Table of contents
Entry & Residence
Entry and Visa
Citizens of EU/EFTA countries need a valid identity card (ID) to enter Switzerland. For third country nationals (citizens from non-EU/EFTA countries) a valid passport is required. Detailed information, including any visa requirements, is available in the section »Migration”.
Moving to Switzerland
There are numerous professional relocation firms that can ease the process of moving for you, with services ranging from finding suitable accommodation to assisting with enrolling your children in a local school.
Addresses of Relocation Firms
Following your move to the Canton of Zurich, and after any change of address, you are required to register with the Residents’ Registration Office of the City of Zurich or with your municipality’s Residents’ Registration Office.
Residence and Permanent Residence
In terms of residence permits, there are differences between citizens of EU/EFTA member states and other countries. Special conditions apply to Croatian citizens. Residence and permanent residence permits are issued by the Migration Office of the Canton of Zurich. No permit is required for stays up to three months. Depending on the type of permit, it may be possible to work. Foreigners residing in Switzerland receive a foreigner’s permit (»Ausländerausweis”) with the type of the permit indicated on said document.
Stays without Gainful Employment
Permits are required for any stays longer than three months, including for persons who are not gainfully employed (pensioners, students, job seekers and others). The permits are issued by the Migration Office of the Canton of Zurich.
Newcomers to Switzerland are encouraged and expected to integrate into Swiss life. This means becoming familiar with and adapting to Swiss culture and living conditions.
Thanks to the freedom of movement between Switzerland and the EU, it is fairly simple for EU/EFTA citizens to stay in Switzerland. They have the same rights as local citizens on the labour market. Specific conditions apply to citizens from third countries who wish to live and work in Switzerland.
Living in Zurich
The demand for living space in the Canton of Zurich is very high. As a result, finding suitable housing can be difficult. The list below contains helpful links on the subject (including internet gateways, current real estate construction projects, estate agents, temporary accommodation, etc.):
Links to Help Find Suitable Housing
Schools & Education
Zurich is an outstanding location for science with a broad array of educational opportunities: state run schools offering high quality education, numerous universities of applied sciences, renowned universities, a large choice of international schools and bilingual schools, ample opportunities to learn trades and professions as well as plenty of internship opportunities. Below a selection of key Facts and Figures on education in the Canton of Zurich:
Are you moving to the Canton of Zurich and looking for a suitable school for your child? The publication »Educational System” provides a concise overview for newcomers in the Canton of Zurich.
International and Bilingual Schools
Three international schools and one kindergarten with classes taught in English, one French school and one Japanese school make sure that the children of internationally mobile families receive an excellent education and can easily transfer to other international schools and universities in the world.
The choice of bilingual schools in Zurich is wide and multi-facetted, whether it be in early education or in bilingual schooling from pre-school right up to university entrance level.
International and Bilingual Schools
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The municipalities in the Canton of Zurich are obliged to provide child care structures supplementary to school and family in accordance with demand. Whereas availability varies according to region and municipality, there is a steady increase in the number of child care places on offer.
Taxes are collected on three levels in Switzerland. The Confederation levies taxes on income, as do the cantons and municipalities; the latter two also charge a wealth tax. Individuals only submit one tax declaration, but they receive two tax bills: one for federal tax and one for cantonal and municipality taxes.
The tax burden in the Canton of Zurich is relatively moderate by international standards. A typical feature of Switzerland’s federal structure is that each municipality and each canton can determine its own rate of taxation for the municipal and the cantonal tax; by contrast, the federal tax is the same throughout Switzerland.
The Cantonal Tax Office provides comprehensive information about the tax system in the Canton of Zurich, and the »Tax calculator” web application is a useful tool to obtain a provisional tax assessment.
Self-employed persons declare their income by way of their personal tax declaration form.
Taxation at Source
Foreign employees who do not hold a »C” residence permit are subject to taxation at source. This means their employer will deduct the municipal, cantonal and federal taxes directly from their salary. In the event that their gross income exceeds CHF 120,000 per year, a retrospective ordinary tax assessment will be carried out.
Expatriates may also benefit from the deduction of extraordinary professional expenses pursuant to special guidelines.
Special Guidelines for Expatriates Provided by the Cantonal Tax Office
Double Taxation Agreements
Switzerland has entered agreements to avoid double taxation (→ double taxation agreements) with more than 100 states – among them all of the EU and EFTA countries. These agreements prevent double taxation of income, assets and inheritance and, to some extent, also include provisions for reduction of withholding tax.
A thirty-five (35) per cent withholding tax is charged on deposit interest paid by Swiss banks and on earnings from Swiss securities; banks deduct the tax directly from the interest credited. Withholding tax is refunded on application provided the taxed securities are declared in the tax declaration form.
Switzerland’s social welfare and pension system combines and coordinates state, company and personal pensions. These include
- The Old Age and Survivors Insurance (AHV)
- The Invalidity Insurance (IV)
- Accident insurance
- Health insurance and daily indemnities for sickness insurance
- Compensation for loss of earnings and maternity benefits
- Unemployment Insurance (ALV)
- Family allowances
- Occupational pensions
More money is spent on insurances in Switzerland than in any other country in the world. Examples of non-mandatory insurances are private liability insurance and household contents insurance.
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Office for Economy and Labour - Business and Economic Development Division