Which nationalities moved to Switzerland most in 2023?

Which nationalities moved to Switzerland most in 2023?

The latest data from the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) has revealed the most common nationalities of newcomers to Switzerland. The government estimated that a net 98.000 people came to the alpine nation in 2023, to fill jobs, rejoin their family or claim asylum.

Net migration reaches record highs in Switzerland

According to the SEM, 81.345 people started claiming Swiss residence permits between January and October 2023. By the end of the year, the Federal Council said it expects net migration to total +98.000 people - that's 17.000 more than last year and equal to the previous migration record set in 2008.

Of these new arrivals, 54 percent moved to Swiss cities and cantons to fill a job. 26 percent came to the alpine nation to reunite with their family, while 10 percent came to study at a university or technical college, 5 percent to claim asylum, 3 percent to look for work and 3 percent for other reasons.

Of those who took up jobs in Switzerland, nearly 40 percent filled roles in the IT and hospitality sectors. Expats were also in high demand in healthcare, pharmacies and education

Swiss worker shortage continuing to spur migration

Speaking to Watson, Michael Siegenthaler of the KOF Institute of ETH Zurich explained that the high levels of net migration can be attributed to the continued worker shortages in Switzerland. He added that while countries like the Netherlands, the UK and Germany also have chronic worker shortages, “If Swiss companies want to recruit abroad, they can still do it now – especially because of the attractive wages.” 

At the same time, despite migration being a key topic during the recent federal elections, Siegenthaler claimed that the lack of coherent and enforced “anti-migration” policies was making a move to Switzerland seem less of a risk. 

In his opinion, the failure of the 2014 Federal popular initiative against mass immigration had convinced many people, especially EU citizens, that the alpine nation was friendly towards migrants once again. The referendum to make all new arrivals subject to migration quotas was narrowly approved by Swiss citizens, but the government largely failed to achieve its aims due to resistance from both parliament and the European Union.

The most common arrivals to Switzerland in 2023

Between January and October 2023, the majority of migrants to Switzerland were German citizens, with a net migration figure of 12.522. They were followed by French (9.018), Italian (8.837) and Spanish (4.271) nationals. In all, here are the 10 most common nationalities to move to Switzerland in 2023:

  1. Germany (12.522)
  2. France (9.018)
  3. Italy (8.837)
  4. Spain (4.271)
  5. Poland (4.086)
  6. Romania (3.834)
  7. Afghanistan (2.801)
  8. Turkey (2.475)
  9. Portugal (2.141)
  10. Hungary (1.994)

In terms of English-speaking nations, the United States was in 41st (291), Canada was in 47th (199), Australia took 52nd (168), South Africa took 71st (86) and the UK was in 83rd (61).

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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