Living and working in Switzerland

Languages

Switzerland has four official national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. English is also used frequently, often serving as a lingua franca. For a good overview, see:

Language regions

German (62.1%)
The majority of the Swiss population lives in German-speaking Switzerland. Swiss-German dialects are primarily spoken in 19 of the 26 cantons. Foreign nationals with knowledge of German often do not understand these dialects and rely on people speaking high German.

French (22.8%)
People in the west of the country, Romandy, speak French. Four cantons are French-speaking: Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel and Jura. Three cantons are bilingual, with both German and French being spoken in Bern, Fribourg and Valais.

Italian (8.0%)
Italian is spoken in Ticino and four southern valleys of Graubünden.

Romansh (0.5%)
Several languages are spoken in the canton of Graubünden: German, Italian and Romansh. Accounting for just 0.5% of the population, Romansh is the smallest Swiss language group.

We very much recommend having some language skills in the language spoken in your desired region upon arriving in Switzerland. In general, language level B2/C1 is required for qualified activities.

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages – self-assessment grid can be found here.

Living and working in Switzerland as a foreign national

The website ch.ch provides information on work, moving house, tax at source, social security and supplementary school offerings for children.

Information can be found here on your rights and obligations in relation to working in Switzerland.

Health insurance

No matter which country you are a citizen of, if you live or work in Switzerland, you must have health insurance. Even people who work for less than three months in Switzerland are required to take out mandatory health insurance. Information on “health insurance for foreign nationals” can be found here.

Finding somewhere to live

To find somewhere to live, we recommend searching on specialist home websites. Or you can contact property management companies in the region where you plan to live.

The website ch.ch contains information on tenants’ rights in Switzerland.

More practical information can be found on the “Living in Switzerland” information sheet published by the Federal Office of Housing (FOH).

Migrants’ associations in Switzerland

Switzerland is a country where associations play a key role in social integration. For this reason, EU/EFTA citizens living in Switzerland have founded associations. Further information can be found here on the migraweb website.

Link collection - Living and working in Switzerland (PDF, 238 kB, 26.08.2021)

Entering Switzerland and residence

Detailed information on entry into, residence and work permits in Switzerland can be found here on the website of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). 

More practical information on your entry into and residence in Switzerland can be found here on the ch.ch website.

Video on living in Switzerland

FAQs – frequently asked questions (SEM)

Registration for short-term work for EU/EFTA nationals

Foreign workers from EU/EFTA countries can work in Switzerland without a permit, but with a compulsory registration, for up to 90 working days a year.

More information can be found here on the website of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

You can register for short-term work with the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) here.

https://www.secoalv.admin.ch/content/secoalv/en/home/menue/stellensuchende/berufliche-mobilitaet-in-der-eu-efta---eures/leben-und-arbeiten-in-der-schweiz.html