Documents you should bring with you when moving to Switzerland

Documents you should bring with you when moving to Switzerland

Moving to Switzerland soon? It’s good to have all your documents organised well in advance of your trip as some of them can take a while to obtain. Here are nine items that should definitely be in your suitcase before you head to the airport

1. Passport

While this one might be obvious, it can easily be forgotten when there are so many other things to consider when moving away. Having your passport with you when entering Switzerland is almost always required - especially if you plan to move to the alpine nation permanently.

You also need to make sure that you have the proper permission to enter the country. If you are planning to stay in the country temporarily, this could be in the form of a visa for non-EU / EEA and UK nationals, such as a tourist visa or study permit.

Technically speaking, for EU / EEA and UK nationals, it is still required to have a passport or some form of valid ID to enter Switzerland, even if you are arriving from, or are a national of a Schengen country. While people arriving from Schengen countries do not have to present a passport or ID at the Swiss border, some form of ID is vital in order to become registered in Switzerland.

2. Birth certificate

Another valuable document to have on hand is your birth certificate. Not only can this be used to help show important details about yourself - such as where you come from and how old you are - but it is also used to obtain most residence permits. It is also used for applying for Swiss citizenship and in dealings with the embassy of your country of origin. 

Your birth certificate may need to prove its authenticity or may require a certified translation, depending on the rules for nationals from your country. Be sure to check the rules for your country of origin to find out if you need authentication or a certified translation. This information can usually be found on the official government website of your canton of residence, or by asking your local council.

3. University letter of enrolment

For students looking to attend university in Switzerland, a copy of your letter of acceptance is vital when applying for a student visa. If you are an EU / EEA or UK citizen, you might already have permission to enter the country without proving your university acceptance, but the enrolment letter that proves you are studying in Switzerland can be helpful in a number of different situations. 

For example, if you want to open a bank account in Switzerland as a student, it can be really useful to have your acceptance letter to hand, as well as for joining student associations or clubs, and when you apply for health insurance in Switzerland

4. Education certificates

On the subject of education, it’s also a great idea to bring certificates that prove your qualifications with you when you arrive in Switzerland. This is especially important for non-EU / EEA or UK citizens, who often have to prove competence in their field of work when applying for residence permits.

Perhaps consider getting your certificates recognised or converted by the Swiss authorities to make job applications easier. You can do this via the educationsuisse website. Education certificates that authorities often ask for include high school diplomas, university degrees or professional qualifications obtained abroad. 

Along with making it easier to prove your qualifications, if you choose to get your certificate converted and officially verified, potential employers in Switzerland can also quickly see how your qualifications compare to the Swiss equivalent, speeding up the application process. 

5. Work contract / Up-to-date CV

If you are thinking about coming to Switzerland because you have been offered a job - congratulations! The next step is to make sure you look over your work contract carefully to make sure that everything is in order - it might be a good idea to contact a lawyer in Switzerland if you see anything you’re unsure about. 

Make sure to keep your work contract to hand when you arrive in Switzerland, so that you can prove that you are employed in Switzerland when applying for your residence permit, but also to remind you what your rights and obligations are at your workplace. Each company has different rules on how many days of holiday you are given, entitlements to parental leave and notice periods, so it’s important to keep your contract close in case you can’t remember!

If you are looking for work but haven’t been able to find a job, be sure to always have an up-to-date copy of your CV with you, in case you see an opening. As Switzerland is a country with many national languages, it might be a nice idea to have a copy of your CV in multiple languages, or at the very least the language that is spoken the most in your canton

6. Rental contract

If you have already found yourself somewhere to live in Switzerland, be it a rental property or a newly bought house, you should bring proof that you intend to live there. This could be a rental contract or a copy of some of the documents relating to your house purchase (such as deeds, contracts, etc). This is useful as it proves to your local council (Gemeinde) that you intend to live there when registering and applying for residence permits.

7. Copy of medical records

When coming to Switzerland, it’s smart to get a copy of your medical records so that you can give your doctor in Switzerland a comprehensive overview of your medical history, which they can then use to keep you up-to-date with vaccinations and medications, etc. 

For people with chronic health conditions that require regular medication, it’s also a good idea to have a copy of your prescription or the packaging of your medication in case you need to explain to a doctor or health insurance provider what sort of medication you need to treat your condition.

8. Criminal record check 

Depending on the town or city in which you intend to live, you might need to obtain a police certificate or criminal record check from your home country. This is also the case for some jobs in Switzerland that require different levels of background checks. 

Professions that involve work with children such as teaching at schools or jobs that involve caring for vulnerable people - the elderly or disabled for example - often require some simple background checks, while jobs in high-security roles require more extensive checks. Security clearance and background checks can take time to obtain, and police certificates often require several weeks to process, so it’s a good idea to check in advance which of these documents, if any, you will need. 

9. Proof of health insurance and EHIC

In the case of short-term visa holders, proof of health insurance from either Switzerland or abroad is necessary to enter the country. For everyone wishing to remain in Switzerland for a longer period of time, Swiss basic health insurance is mandatory. 

When preparing to move to Switzerland, make sure you can prove that you have health insurance, such as by providing policy overviews or your EHIC card. Even though Switzerland is not an EU country, agreements are in place so that EHIC-insured visitors can seek treatment from a Swiss hospital or doctor with minimal bureaucracy. Note that EHIC insurance cards can only be used as a valid form of health insurance for visa or short-term visitors, not residents. 

It’s time to move to Switzerland

Now that you have everything you need, it’s finally time to finish your packing and head off to the airport. Your new life in Switzerland is just around the corner!



Emily Proctor

Former Editor at IamExpat Media.

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