Cross-border commuters are people who work (in an employed or self-employed capacity) in a member state of the European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA), and who live in another member state and who usually return to their place of residence abroad daily, or at least once a week.
In principle, cross-border commuters are covered by social insurance in the country where they work. However, if employees work for the same employer in two or more countries, and work 25% or more in their country of residence, they must be registered by the employer with the social insurance institution in the country of residence in accordance with the applicable regulations. If they work less than 25% in the country of residence, they are subject to the regulations of the country in which the employer’s head office is based.
Social insurance usually includes health insurance, accident insurance, unemployment insurance, pension provision, compensation for loss of earnings, maternity/paternity, family allowances.
Work permits for cross-border commuters in Switzerland
In order to be allowed to work as a cross-border commuter in Switzerland, an EU/EFTA cross-border permit is required. This has to be applied for by the employer from the competent cantonal authorities (usually immigration offices) by presenting an employment contract or a sponsorship declaration in the case of a binding job offer, as well as an identity document or valid passport.
Cross-border commuters who are third country nationals must hold a permanent residence permit in one of Switzerland’s neighbouring countries and be resident in the border region for at least six months. Third party nationals are subject to Articles 35 and 39 of the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration (FNA) (SR 142.20 (admin.ch)). An important requirement when reviewing cross-border permit applications for third country nationals is consideration of the labour market regulations (precedence of domestic workforce, work and salary conditions, 18-23 FNA (see Weisungen).
The work permit application must always be submitted before the person starts work. The G EU/EFTA permit for cross-border commuters is issued for people working in an employed or self-employed capacity. In the case of self-employment, evidence of self-employed status must be provided when the application is submitted. The necessary documents can be found on the application forms of the cantonal immigration offices.
If the employment relationship lasts less than a year, the permit is valid for the duration of the employment or assignment contract. If the employment is extended, the permit is usually renewed. Fixed-term contracts lasting one year or more are granted a permit that is valid for five years. The employer is entered in the cross-border permit.
The competent authorities should be notified of any changes (personal details, change in place of residence, change of job etc.). Cross-border commuters must return to their place of residence abroad at least once a week.
Cross-border commuters who live in Switzerland during the week should register with their local registry office in Switzerland as a weekly resident.
The competent cantonal migration offices that are responsible for issuing or renewing permits can provide more details.
Cantonal immigration and employment market authorities (admin.ch)
Links to useful regional organisations for cross-border commuters: