Customs, Visas and Permits

Customs Regulations

Here is some important information regarding Swiss customs. When importing goods from abroad, the duty-free limit is CHF 300 on the net value of your shopping. If it exceeds this amount then it is mandatory to pay the duty. It is forbidden to add the duty fee amount together with other people.

If you buy goods in euros and then bring your goods into Switzerland, you can get your foreign VAT refunded, make sure the sales person provides you with a form for a refund, which you can show at the border customs.


Visas and Permits



To live and work in Switzerland, you require a residency permit, issued by the local cantonal authorities. For long-term assignments, it is advisable to bring important original documents with you, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, insurance policies, medical prescriptions, employment information, academic certificates and entry permits. A number of passport-size photos for the whole family are also useful.

Since some permits have to be applied  from your home country, you should start this process well in advance of your move to Switzerland. For many, the Swiss immigration laws are complex and confusing. In 2002 a new bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the EU has considerably changed the laws on work and residence permits. This means that the immigration rules for EU and EFTA States Citizens are now easier and for non-EU citizens, things have become more challenging.


EU Citizens’ rights

As an EU citizen you have the right to settle in Switzerland and set up your own business, provided that you do so assuming full responsibility and at your own risk. Spouses and children under 21 may also settle and work in Switzerland as may other direct relatives. Non-EU nationals can only get a Swiss work permit if their future employer proves there is no Swiss, EU or EFTA State national available to do the job. As a rule, qualified, indispensable management staff are permitted to enter the country.


Registration at the local district office

Registration needs to be completed within 14 days at the local district office as soon as you move into your house or apartment.

The following documents are required when you do so:

– an employment contract

– a tenancy agreement for your new apartment

– valid identity documents or passport

– health insurance certificate (show within 3 months)

– civil status documents such as a family booklet and marriage certificate, birth certificates of children


Driving Licence

It is also advisable to arrange a Swiss driving licence as soon as possible, although you have a maximum of one year in which to do so.