Relocating and officially moving to Switzerland is definitely an exciting process for those who are moving here, but before you move, you need to know what to bring with you to Switzerland. You may need a work permit based on your situation as well as a local contract. Other things to consider will be about your health insurance, a new bank account, what belongings you wish to bring and if you are travelling with any pets. Read on to see what we advise based on our situation.
Moving To Switzerland: Our Situation
This post is fully based on our own personal situation of moving to Switzerland in August 2022, which is;
- We are both EU nationals
- We were relocating from Netherlands to Switzerland
- We were relocating with our kitty cat
Moving To Switzerland Requirements: WHat Do You need To Do?
So this is the first and main step we focused on for making the decision to move to Switzerland. Because in short, without a Swiss contract, you cannot easily move to Switzerland.
I was personally extremely lucky that the company I worked for in the Netherlands approved that I could switch to a Swiss contract. So that allowed me to stay at my company and stay in my team, but then to be based in Switzerland. It was a win-win situation, as I could stay longer with my team and company and in return they could learn and gain knowledge from myself (through additional trainings) as well as have a lot longer time to transfer the workload to others.
The special part was that I was super transparent with my manager in sharing that I was planning to leave in 2022. This was due to of course wanting to move to Switzerland and find a new job opportunity more locally. Within 1 week of telling my manager this goal, she had researched about the possibility for me to be switched to a Swiss contract instead. It wouldn’t be for long term and of course a big exception, but without telling her the truth it likely would have taken me longer to find a local Swiss job instead. So I have a high gratitude to my manager and my team for providing the approvals for this, to start my new life in Switzerland.
Switzerland Work Permit
As I am a Dutch citizen, for me it was quite an easy process for moving to Switzerland (but still had to do my research!). It is also one of the top moving to Switzerland requirements you need to research into, since this is important to have for working.
To get my residence permit I needed to simply process my request for the correct permit on the official government website. The requested form is easy to complete, but it is only in Italian, since its the Ticino canton. It required my personal details, my contract details and of course some additional information about my company. Once this was finalised and submitted, I then had to print this and make sure it was also signed by myself and and my employer. Once this form was completed, I had to send this alongside my contract (which has to be legally translated to Italian) and a confirmation of where I would be staying at.
I sent all these next to the Ticino governmental office in Bellinzona, which needed to be at least 14 days of my arrival. Since I was registering at the Ticino canton, I used the Ticino Government website to submit the request for the correct permit based on my Swiss contract.
I then had to wait for the confirmation and once ready, head to an appointment to complete the photo and biometrics checks. A permit was then provided based on my Swiss contract and home address while being in Switzerland.
Housing in Switzerland
Even months before I had my Swiss contract confirmed, we were looking into the housing situation in Switzerland. We had a rough idea on the prices and locations, but of course any additional information we didn’t know until we were actually applying.
When searching for rental and properties to buy, there are a few main top websites that help best with your initial searching. For our search within the Ticino region, we used the following:
Ultimately we found a place first with someones personal property listed on Airbnb. We had first messaged the owner to see if we could book her apartment as our first 2 months to register at. Since it was important we can register there since we need the registration for the permit and health insurances. She agreed that this was fine (and its allowed in general from an Airbnb location with permission), so we booked this in May ready for our relocation in July. We also checked that our cat could join us, which she was happy with too.
This was the best option for us, as we did not want to rent something for 1 year via those websites without having the possibility to view it first. This of course is rather difficult when you are abroad but looking for a place in Switzerland for when you arrive. Staying in an Airbnb for 2 months allowed us the opportunity to check more places out once we arrived via those sites.
For the second property after our Airbnb location, we decided to rent long term at the Centro Cadro Panoramica. Here we could also officially register at as long as we stay for a minimum of 3 months. This works out perfect for us. This also gives us more time to find a nice place that we want to stay longer in.
There are many rules with bringing a pet to Switzerland, such as making sure they have the right documentation and vaccines. Of course bringing your pet when relocating to Switzerland is usually a must, since they are part of the family after all. There are rules for every animal type, so this must be strictly followed. For example, it is good to also know that some specific breeds of dogs are not allowed to enter, as well as there being a maximum amount of dogs you can bring. This official website of Switzerland is the best place to check the rules and requirements based on your own pet.
We personally own a cat (called Szila), so for us we already looked into what would be required as soon as we picked Switzerland as our future home location. For our kitty to travel with us to Switzerland, we needed to make sure of the following was in order:
- That she was microchipped
- That she has had her rabies vaccination at least 21 days before travel to Switzerland
- For all normal vaccines to be up to date
- A valid EU Passport
For housing, we also saw that most rentals were advertised as allowing pets, which is great! It seem’s that Switzerland is very open and accepting to having pets, so we were pleased to see this before we found a place. There is no cat tax either, but we did see for dogs there is a certain tax you need to pay if you own one or more.
This depends on where you are relocating from and how much stuff you are willing to bring with you. There are of course many international companies that you can request quotes from based on your belongings. So if you are far away, this could be the best option for you for efficiency/timing. It ultimately depends on also how much you want to pay and what you can negotiate for.
For us, since we had moved around a few times in the Netherlands, we already class ourselves as expert movers together. We had already started packing, organising and selling unnecessary items in April, May and June, so at least 2-3 months before our moving date. So once we had everything organised, we decided we would relocate our belongings ourselves since it wasn’t that much.
For our items, we already organised storage at the location we moved to so that we didn’t need to take everything to our airbnb rental. We also rented a van from the Netherlands that allowed us to take it to Switzerland and back within a few days. This was also for a third of the price of the quotes we got from the relocation companies. So for us it was an easy choice to do it all ourselves to save money.
- Pack things yourself in boxes, number each box with a marker and write down on an excel sheet what is in each box. You will need an inventory list when crossing the border to Switzerland too so it’s ideal to have this.
- Sell anything that is not needed before moving (check our full moving suggestion list here!) – such as books, bulky furniture, unwanted clothes etc. For us, we used Vinted for selling personal clothes and shoes. For other items we sold or donated to charity.
Crossing the Swiss Border Control
This one was sure a little daunting for us. Making sure you have all the documents and requirements for them to approve your entrance is strict. You should make sure that you have everything printed and duplicates just in case too.
For our situation, we had the following items printed and handed in:
- a full completed customs form (one for us and one for them to keep)
- a full inventory list printed (showing how many boxes, what was in the boxes and other items we had)
- invoices of all items that were more than 300CHF
- paperwork for the car
- passport for the cat
So as shared above, we had the official customs form completed based on all the belongings we were bringing to the country in our moving van. This is printable from the official customs website of Switzerland, where you have to complete two duplicate copies. This allows you to keep one and for them to keep for their records.
We also made sure to have all invoices and proof of payments printed for items that were more expensive than 300 CHF. This is required to show proof that items are either more 6 months old or you will need to pay import duty costs on these.
Lastly, since we were bringing also a car (at a later stage) and a cat, these could already be mentioned on the main customs form. Even though both the car and cat were arriving at a different date, it should be on the same form.
If you are interested in how the full customs process went for us, between the German and Swiss border. We have a full post sharing in detail the steps here!
Swiss Bank Account
Getting a Swiss bank is recommended from the first week of your arrival. This will of course be needed to pay all your monthly bills such as health insurance and rent. Especially if you are not renting via Airbnb (since you can pay this with your non-Swiss account already). You will of course also receive your salary into your account, so this I had to organise before my company payroll deadline.
I picked Post Finance to set up my bank with, simply because of what they offer as well as it being one of the fastest companies to set up a Swiss bank account for an expat. They have an easy app and I got my cards within a few days of setting up the account.
Swiss Health Insurance
The next step you need to consider is Swiss Health Insurance. This is required from your start date, but you can also only organise this once you have a Swiss bank account. So this can be sorted in your first week together with your bank account. However you can already look in advance online to compare all health insurance policies. There are different ones to also different cantons in Switzerland, as well as different costs based on what you wish to be included. For comparing health insurances, we can highly recommend using Comparis online, which can be done in English too.
For my situation, I already organised my Swiss Health Insurance with my previous Dutch bank account. I did this as I did not want a fine for processing my health insurance late. I will then change the payments to my Swiss bank account after this is all set up.
We hope this post helps with your own research and knowledge on what to do for moving to Switzerland. It’s been an amazing journey for us to move from the Netherlands to Switzerland. If you have the chance to follow in our footsteps, we can highly suggest it!
There are of course a few other things you will need to look into based on our own situation, such as a school for children or other insurances for a house. So keep these in mind and research as much as possible before your arrival.
- For the actual moving, pack only what you need from 4 main categories; practical, sentimental, clothes/shoes and documents
- Make sure you have all documents printed for Swiss Border Customs
- Plan and research in advance regarding housing locations, insurances, schooling and permits etc.
- Learn a local language – depending on the Swiss canton you are moving to, you can already start learning Italian, French or German!
Thank you for reading our Moving To Switzerland Requirements post. If you have any questions, feel free to add a comment or reach out to us via social media!