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B or C residence permit in Switzerland – what are the benefits?

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Source: iStock / Alexey Morozov

Are you a foreign national looking to live and work in Switzerland? Then you will need a valid permit. Comparis explains the difference between the B and C permits, and the benefits of each.

If you are employed and are from an EU or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member state, you may stay in Switzerland for a period of three months without a permit. You are simply required to register with your municipality of residence.

If you wish to live and work in Switzerland longer than three months, you will need a residence permit. You must apply to the relevant cantonal authority for this permit within 14 days of arrival and before you start work.

Living and working in Switzerland – which permit do I need?

The type of permit you need depends on the length of your employment contract:

L short-stay permit

Is your employment contract for a maximum of 364 days? If you are an employed foreign national from an EU or EFTA country, then you will get an L permit (short-stay). This permit is valid for the duration of your employment contract.

B residence permit

Is your employment contract temporary for more than one year or permanent? If you are an employed foreign national from an EU or EFTA country, then you will get a B residence permit. This permit is valid for five years and can be extended.

If you are self-employed, you will also get a B residence permit, but you must provide proof of your self-employed activity. Here you can find out more about about how persons from EU and EFTA member states can start a business in Switzerland

C permanent residence permit

Have you been living in Switzerland for more than five years? If you are an employed foreign national from an EU or EFTA member state and have been living legally in Switzerland for more than five years uninterrupted, you will be granted the C residence permit. This is valid permanently, but there is a renewal check every five years.

B residence permit – the benefits

  • No need to file a tax return if your annual salary is less than 120,000 francs
  • Instead, payment of withholding tax – set by the canton and deducted directly from your monthly salary
  • Pillar 3a: retrospective adjustment of witholding tax possible
  • Depending on the canton, tax benefits compared to permanent residents with C permit 

C residence permit – the benefits

  • Right to permanent residence
  • Right to residence cannot be linked to conditions (e.g. attending German lessons)
  • Same rights and obligations as the Swiss, except for the right to vote in elections and referendums

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