C Permit

The Swiss C permit is the equivalent of Swiss permanent residency, allowing a non-Swiss citizen to work and live in Switzerland without any restrictions. The permit C holder does not need an authorization to change employment or to work as an independent. Additionally, the C permit does not restrict employment to a specific canton (art. 34 LEI).

Holding a C permit allows holders to apply for Swiss citizenship after 10 years of residency and a good integration (art. 9 LN).

The C permit expires after 6 months spent outside Switzerland, however an authorization of absence can be requested in some cases to suspend a C permit for a period of maximum 4 years while living abroad.

Legitimation card holders (CDL) are not eligible to obtain a C permit, except in specific circumstances such as when retiring or for children holding a B permit having lived and studied for more than 12 years in Switzerland. A B permit can be sometimes requested after years spent under a CDL in Switzerland, if the applicant wishes to work in the private sector.

The C permit is granted on request of the applicant on two conditions:

If the applicant has lived in Switzerland for at least 10 years on a B or L permit (permits N, F are not taken into account) and if the last 5 years have been spent in the country without any interruption (art. 34 let. a LEI).

If there is no reason for the permit to be refused (criminal record, debts, threat to national security).

The C permit is granted after 5 years of legal residence in Switzerland to:

Spouses of Swiss nationals or holders of C permits as from the date of marriage in Switzerland or the date of entry into Switzerland in the case of marriage abroad.

Citizens of Germany, Austria, Belgium, Danemark, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Portugal.

The fast-tracked permit or “permis C anticipé”:

The required time of 10 years of residency in Switzerland for all other applicants may be shortened for important reasons which are not necessarily economic or tax-related. Thus, it is granted at the end of an uninterrupted stay of 5 years on request of the applicant if the following requirements are demonstrated:

  • Successful integration of the applicant and family members aged 12 years and over
  • Respect of the Swiss legal system and Constitutional values
  • Knowledge of French (for the canton of Geneva) at A2 written B1 spoken level, an official French certificate is required
  • Willingness to participate in the economic and social life of the country and to adapt (being employed or proof of a study plan)
  • When the applicant was previously granted a C permit for at least 10 years and has not lived abroad for more than 6 years.

The years spent under a B study permit are not accounted for the fast-tracked C permit unless the applicant has obtained a B work permit after his studies for a minimum of 2 years (art. 34 al. 5 LEI).

The C permit is also automatically granted to:

  • Children under 12 of a Swiss citizen or C permit holder in the context of a family reunification process.
  • Professors teaching at university level (UNI, EPF, IHEID).
  • Professors teaching at technical schools (HES or HEP).
  • Teachers (HES).

Unfortunately, legitimation card holders are not eligible to obtain a C permit, except in specific circumstances such as when retiring or for children over 21 accumulating at least 12 years of residency in Switzerland (Directives LEI 1st January 2019).


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This website aims to provide general information regarding Swiss law and should not be regarded as a legal opinion. For more specific advice, do not hesitate to contact us.