Whether you intend to visit the country as a tourist or if you plan to work in Switzerland (or accompany someone who does, e.g. as a partner or family member), makes a huge difference. Switzerland has a dual system for granting foreign nationals access to the Swiss labour market.
Anyone who works during his/her stay in Switzerland or who remains in Switzerland for longer than three months requires a permit. Residence permits are issued by the Cantonal Migration Offices. A distinction is made between short-term residence permits (less than 1 year), annual residence permits (limited) and permanent residence permits (unlimited).
From 1 June 2016, the same conditions apply to all citizens of member states of the EU-27/EFTA, i.e. citizens of the EU-25/EFTA (EU-17/EFTA plus EU-8). Since 1 January 2017, Croatian nationals benefit from the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons. However, transitory provisions apply.
EU-2 Member States (Bulgaria and Romania)
The Federal Council decided on 10 May 2017 to invoke the safeguard clause provided for in the Agreement between Switzerland and the EU on the free movement of persons, applying it to the EU-2 Member States (Bulgaria and Romania). Since 1 June 2017, category B EU/EFTA residence permits granted to citizens of these countries will be subject to quotas.
This measure applies to citizens from Bulgaria and Romania who possess an employment contract in Switzerland that is valid for more than a year (or unlimited duration) as well as for self-employed persons.
The Federal Council decided on 18 April 2018 to extend by a further year until 31 May 2019 the validity of the safeguard clause for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals. As the threshold set in the AFMP was not reached by 31 May 2018, the safeguard clause for short-term permits (L EU/EFTA) has not been activated.
The transition period for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals will end from 1 June 2019 and they will enjoy full freedom of movement from this date.
From the moment you cross the border to take up residence in Switzerland, you have 14 days in which to register with the authorities in your commune. As a rule, the commune will then send your papers to the appropriate cantonal authority, which will deal with your application and issue the residence permit. Please present the following documents:
valid passport (for yourself and for each member of your family accompanying you)
certificate from your health insurance provider (which proves that you are a member of a recognized health insurance scheme)
rental contract or sublease agreement
registry office documents (e.g. family record book, marriage certificate, birth certificates of minor children, etc.)
employment contract/confirmation of enrollment at a university
Biometric residence permits for foreign nationals: Since joining Schengen on 12 December 2008, Switzerland has been issuing a new credit card-sized identity document for foreign nationals. lt is issued to people in Switzerland who are not nationals of the European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Member States, or who are not in Switzerland by virtue of the Free Movement of Persons Agreement. The biometric identity document indicates the foreigner's status in Switzerland and, together with a valid national passport, entitles the holder to travel throughout the Schengen area without a visa.