In Switzerland, an authorization to reside in the country or “autorisation de séjour” is mandatory (Art. 11 Foreign Nationals Act).

Landing in Switzerland as an expat can be quite confusing when it comes to dealing with administrative issues. Applying for permits and visas through the OCPM in Geneva or SPOP in Lausanne, can turn into a challenging experience if you do not speak French fluently and are not familiar with the process. To provide you with a clear vision on the administrative dynamic regulating work and residency permits in Switzerland, here are a few points to know.

Despite the fact that Switzerland is not a member of the EU, the same conditions apply to EU citizens wishing to work on Swiss territory. Switzerland has signed the freedom of movement agreement as part of the bilateral accord with the EU, allowing EU/EFTA citizens to enter, reside and work in the country.

Obtaining a work permit in Switzerland relies on different factors: whether the applicant is a EU-28/EFTA citizen or not, the obtention of a work contract, the actual quotas in force and the applicant skills in a specific area of expertise.

Four main categories of permits exist:

  • The legitimation card or CDL and the associated Ci permit for expats and their families employed by the UN, foreign consulates and permanent missions or inter-governmental organizations
  • The multi-faceted B that can be delivered for different types of activities such as work permits, student permits, temporary residency permits, family reunification permits
  • The G permit or “permis frontalier” for people living in France and working in Switzerland
  • The C permit equivalent to permanent residency in Switzerland


For further information, contact us