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EXPLAINED: How to prove you are a resident in Switzerland

EXPLAINED: How to prove you are a resident in Switzerland
If you wear this, you might not get asked for your proof of residency.People in Swiss traditional costumes on Swiss National Day. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Depending on where you're from, there are different ways to prove you're a resident in Switzerland in case you ever need to.
Here are some important documents to keep in mind, particularly during the pandemic when travel restrictions may apply. 

Occasionally you may be required to prove you are legally a resident in Switzerland, rather than a visitor. 

This became especially important with the many global travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In this case, you’re likely to have to provide a residency permit of some description.

Here’s the crucial documents you’ll need. Note: the following applies to anyone who has stayed or is planning to stay for more than three months. 

Under three months, getting around on your home country passport or ID document (for EU) will suffice. 

One further reminder – when arriving in Switzerland, you must register with your new municipal authority in your canton of residence. 

While this may not seem unusual if you come from a country like Germany where mandatory registration is common place, arrivals from other countries may find this strange. 

In doing so, you'll receive a certificate confirming your registration: Wohnsitzbescheinigung / Attestation de résidence / Certificato di domicilio.

In most cantons, you must do this within 14 days of arriving – although some have a shorter time frame. Be sure to check with cantonal and/or municipal authorities. 

Swiss citizens

If you’re a Swiss citizen, your best bet will be to show either your passport or your Swiss Identity Card. 

Similar to the government-issued cards in other European countries, a Swiss identity card is a small plastic card which can be used for travel within the EU. 

How to apply for Swiss citizenship: An essential guide 

Importantly for people who may have come from the United States, Australia or elsewhere where the situation is different, a Swiss drivers licence may be proof of identity but not official proof of residence. 

Non-citizens who live in Switzerland

For non-citizens, you can prove your resident status by showing your residency permit. 

READ: Am I eligible for Swiss citizenship? 

This will usually be connected to your work, i.e. the permission which allows you to work in Switzerland. 

If you are only here on a temporary basis, you will be able to show your B-Permit – a permit which is renewable and which has an expiry date. 

You may also show your L-Permit, which is a short-term residency permit that allows residency for up to 12 months. Unlike B-Permits – which usually run for multiple years – L-Permits will run for a year at most. 

Permanent residents will be issued with C-Permits – which cannot be withdrawn unless you leave Switzerland for good.

Cross-border workers

Cross-border workers – i.e. workers who live in neighbouring countries but who work in Switzerland – may need to prove their status, particularly during times of the pandemic. 

At the peak of the pandemic when Switzerland closed its borders, only residents, citizens and cross-border workers were allowed across the country’s frontiers. 

How Switzerland avoided a coronavirus 'catastrophe' by protecting cross-border workers 

Cross-border workers are issued with G-Permits, which allow them to cross the border for the purposes of work. In some cases, these permits also entitle workers to beneficial tax arrangements

G-Permit holders must return home at least once per week. 

What is a certificate of residence in Switzerland? 

Although it might sound like the one document you will need to prove residence no matter what, this is a formal document that is unlikely to be requested to prove residence. 

Instead, this may be relevant in relation to making tax and social security contributions, or when renewing your drivers licence. 

Editor's note: Please keep in mind that this article, as with all of our guides, are to provide assistance only. They are not intended to take the place of official legal advice.


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