Working in Switzerland: which work permit must you request?

Mis à jour le Tuesday 16 January 2024
Publié le Monday 26 June 2023 par Aïni Rouiaï

Switzerland provides a dynamic labor market that abounds with professional opportunities for qualified professionals who come from abroad. However, if you plan to work in Switzerland, it is crucial to be aware of the required procedures and to undertake them.

In this article we will take a look at the different work permits that exist in Switzerland and the steps to obtain them.

femme qui travaille sur son ordinateur

If you work in Switzerland as a foreigner, then you must take a few precautions. In fact, a work contract is not enough to conduct a professional activity legally on Swiss territory. In addition to the contract, you must have a Swiss work permit (aka travel authorisation).

The Swiss work permit is an official document issued by the Cantonal Population and Migrations Office (OCPM) and which gives you authorisation to work in Switzerland. 

There are many types of permits according to your situation. 

A distinction is first made between permits for European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) citizens, subject to the agreement on the free movement of people. They can obtain 4 different work permits (B,C, G or L) which vary according to the place of residence (Switzerland or member country of the EU and EFTA) and the duration of their work contract.

Zoom in on the principle types of permits.

The G permit, for border workers

The G permit is allocated to border workers who have a work contract in Switzerland but live in another country such as France, Italy, Germany, Austria or any other European country. To obtain this permit, the worker must justify their border dweller status and, therefore, effectively return to their country of residence at least once a week.

As for a permanent or fixed-term contract that lasts longer than 12 months, your permit is valid for a renewable period of 5 years. For fixed-term contract lasting between 3 and 12 months, its validity duration is equal to that of the work contract. 

Work contracts lasting less than 3 months do not require the G permit. You just have to fulfil an “announcement procedure” with the competent cantonal authorities.

The L permit for short-term contracts

If you have a fixed-term contract lasting 3 to 12 months, you can qualify for the L permit. It is valid throughout the duration of your contract and can be extended for a maximum of 12 months, without the need to leave Switzerland.

For work contracts lasting less than 3 months, all you have to do is notify the cantonal authorities.

The B permit for residing in Switzerland

The B permit is a residence permit allowing EU and EDAF citizens who work in Switzerland to reside in Switzerland.

To qualify for a B permit, you must have a permanent or fixed-term contract lasting more than 12 months. The permit, which is valid for 5 years, can be renewed under certain conditions.

The C permit for residing permanently in Switzerland

After continuously residing in Switzerland for at least 5 years, a C permit can be allocated to any foreign EU and EDAF citizen. It lets you benefit from a permanent and unconditional right of residence. 

If you are citizen from a country out with the EU and the EDAF, you must refer to the law on foreigners and not the agreement on the free movement of people. You will then be faced with more restrictive conditions of entry (national preference for recruitment, control of salary conditions) and with the principle on quotas (limited number of Swiss permits).

Our teams are at your full availability for any questions and will guide you through the process. 


As Marketing and Communications Manager at Helvetic Payroll, I have the chance to explore new ways of working and to develop both professionally and personally. Thanks to my encounters with talent and experts within our company, I’ve gained an in-depth understanding of payrolling and consulting. This enables me to analyse and highlight the latest developments and advantages of this status, with a view to sharing them with everyone.

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