Relocation from Germany to Switzerland

What do you have to pay attention to when moving / relocating from Germany to Switzerland if you want to live in Switzerland temporarily or long-term? We explore these questions in this article.

General information about the Swiss housing market

When you rent an apartment in Switzerland, you benefit from extensive amenities. As a rule, all major electrical appliances such as refrigerator, washing machine and stove are already present. This high standard requires gentle handling from tenants. It is not sufficient, for example, to clean the rented apartment only superficially when handing it over.

With the following link, you will get a rough overview of the Zurich housing market.

Or in our webinar you can learn even more about the peculiarities of the Swiss housing market Webinar: Finding an apartment.

Find apartment

When searching for your apartment or house, you can, for example, search for apartments on comparis (a metasearch platform).

If you do not find what you are looking for, we can offer you our webinar: Finding an apartment.

It is advisable to plan your move/relocation from Germany to Switzerland carefully and, despite speaking the same national language, also adapt to cultural differences and everyday peculiarities.

Visit apartment (change of residence Germany – Switzerland)

If you have found your dream home, we recommend a personal inspection of the object.

Note that in Swiss cities the dates of viewing the apartment are usually set in advance and cannot be customized.

Plan to include the following items in their visit:

  • Time for arrival and return
  • Costs for travel to and from the event
  • Time for stay
  • Cost of tickets or rental car
  • Time to find the appropriate means of transport
  • Costs for accommodation, if any
  • Time for finding temporary accommodation
  • Time and cost of catering

Our main service is to take this work off your hands. We will gladly take over the inspection of the apartment for you.

Checklist for the inspection of the apartment

In addition, pay attention to a few things when viewing the apartment. Here are some points that should be considered:

  1. Condition of the apartment: Check the general condition of the apartment. Look for possible damage to walls, floors or ceilings. Make sure all electrical appliances, faucets, heaters, etc. are working.
  2. Size and room layout: consider whether the apartment meets your space requirements. Check the room layout and make sure that the number of rooms and their size meet your requirements. If necessary, create a small sketch, which depicts the layout of the apartment.
  3. Amenities: Check if the apartment has the desired features, such as built-in wardrobes, cellar, washing machine and/or a balcony.
  4. Incidence of light: Pay attention to the incidence of light in the various rooms. Check if there is enough natural light and if the orientation of the apartment suits your preferences.
  5. Location and surroundings: Get an idea of the location of the apartment. Consider whether the neighborhood meets your needs and whether there are important amenities in the area, such as supermarkets, schools, public transportation, or recreational opportunities.
  6. Noise pollution: Be aware of possible noise sources such as road traffic, neighborhood noise, or construction sites nearby. Make sure that the noise level is acceptable to you. For this purpose, use for example the maps of the Swiss Confederation at Maps of Switzerland – map.geo.admin.ch
  7. Heating and energy costs: Inquire about heating and energy costs to get an idea of monthly utility costs.
  8. Parking facilities: If you own a car, inquire about parking near the apartment. Ask about parking or garages and if there are additional costs associated with them.

It is advisable to bring a checklist with you to the apartment inspection to ensure that you check all relevant items.

Documents for the inspection or apartment registration

At the time of the visit or at the time of registration, you will usually subsequently need the following documents for the rental in Switzerland:

  • Copy of the residence permit
  • valid identity card/passport
  • Copy of the employment contract
  • Contact details of the last landlord
  • Debt collection information (information about your creditworthiness, comparable to the “Schufa” information in Germany). This can be applied for at the debt collection office, information can be obtained from the respective municipality.

Entry: Personal belongings, vehicle, pets (Expatriate Services Germany – Switzerland).

When you move from Germany to Switzerland, questions arise about the customs clearance of luggage and personal belongings. Here is some important information to help you enter the country:

  1. Personal Property:
    • If you transfer your residence from the EU or an EFTA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) to Switzerland, the items you bring with you, such as furniture, are considered household effects. These can be imported duty free.
    • To comply with customs regulations, you must create an inventory of your items and have your rental agreement ready.
    • You must have owned the imported items for at least six months.
  2. Vehicle:
    • If you bring a vehicle that you have owned for at least six months and do not want to sell in Switzerland, you do not have to declare it.
    • At customs, you must show your vehicle registration card and the purchase contract.
    • Within the first year, you should have your driver’s license transferred to Switzerland.
    • To obtain a Swiss license plate, you must present your vehicle to a motor vehicle inspection.
  3. Pets:
    • Pets can be brought into Switzerland duty free.
    • Essentially the same provisions apply as for your personal property.
    • During the customs inspection it will be checked if your pet is vaccinated and marked with a microchip.
    • Make sure you have your pet’s vaccination certificate and EU pet passport handy when you enter the country.

Registration in your municipality of residence (Relocation Germany – Switzerland)

Please register at the Residents’ Registration Office of your municipality of residence within the first 14 days after your arrival in Switzerland and before you start your job. The residence permit is required to ensure that you can legally stay in Switzerland. Please bring the following documents with you:

  • An official identification card
  • A recent passport photo
  • Documents proving your marital status
  • The original employment contract
  • The original rental contract

Please note that some municipalities may require additional documents for registration. Before visiting the Residents’ Registration Office, check the website of your municipality of residence for more information. If you own a dog, don’t forget to register your dog with the municipality as well.

Residence permit

(Relocation advice Germany – Switzerland)

Citizens of the EU and EFTA have the possibility to live and work in Switzerland for up to three months without needing a residence permit. However, it is necessary to register with the relevant cantonal labor market authorities. If one intends to stay in Switzerland for longer than three months, a residence permit is required, which can be applied for at the migration office of the canton of residence. There are different types of permits:

  • The short-term residence permit L is valid for a period of less than one year and is valid as long as the temporary employment lasts.
  • Residence permit B can be applied for if you are employed in Switzerland for more than one year or for an indefinite period of time. It has a validity period of five years and can be extended.
  • After an uninterrupted stay of five years in Switzerland, one receives the C settlement permit. This is valid indefinitely, but is reviewed every five years.

Taxes (Change of Location Services Germany – Switzerland)

In most cases, when moving / relocating from Germany to Switzerland, a withholding tax must be expected at the beginning. Info can be found at the Federal Tax Office of Switzerland

Tax deductions for pension

The following mandatory social contributions are deducted directly from the salary:

  • Old-age and survivors’ insurance (AHV), disability insurance (IV) and compensation for loss of earnings (EO): Approximately 5 percent of gross salary (without upper limit).
  • Unemployment insurance (ALV): Approximately 1.1 percent of salary up to a maximum limit of 148,200 francs per year. For amounts over 148,200 francs, the contribution is 0.5 percent.
  • Occupational pension plan (BVG): Contributions for pension insurance vary depending on the insurance and the age of the insured person and range from 7 to 18 percent of salary.

Cell phone (Relocation Switzerland – Germany)

If you are staying in Switzerland for a longer period of time, it is advisable to cancel your existing cell phone provider contract and take out a mobile subscription in Switzerland. As Switzerland is not part of the EU, EU roaming cannot be used for Switzerland, which can lead to high costs. To sign up for a subscription. For this you also need an official ID or a passport.

Fitness subscription, Netflix subscription and other subscriptions (Global Mobility Service Germany – Switzerland)

If you are staying in Switzerland for a longer period of time, it is recommended to either change all your subscriptions to your new address or to cancel them. It is easy if they do this while they are not yet officially registered at the new address.

Internet

Before moving/re-locating from Germany to Switzerland, most likely the internet will be important at your new place of residence as well. Internet coverage in Switzerland is generally very good. Switzerland has a modern and well-developed infrastructure for telecommunications and Internet services. Both mobile networks and broadband Internet connections are available in most parts of the country.

In terms of mobile coverage, there is good coverage of 4G LTE networks in Switzerland, and the rollout of 5G networks is also progressing. Mobile operators provide good coverage in most urban areas, as well as along major transport routes and in rural areas.

As far as broadband Internet is concerned, Switzerland has a high penetration of broadband connections. Most households have access to DSL, cable or fiber-optic connections with high speeds. Internet coverage is generally very good, especially in cities and densely populated areas. In remote rural areas, however, there may still be some broadband challenges.

However, it is important to note that the quality of Internet coverage may vary depending on the location. Coverage may be more limited in some remote mountainous areas or outlying towns. Overall, however, Internet coverage in Switzerland is at a high level compared with many other countries.

With the following link, for example, you can check the Internet speed of a provider (main provider, but not the cheapest).

Bank account in Switzerland

To open a bank account in Switzerland, you usually need to follow the steps below:

Find out about different banks in Switzerland to find the one that best suits your needs. Consider factors such as account fees, minimum deposits, banking services and reputation.

Obtain identification documents: Make sure you have valid identification documents, such as a passport or ID card. In some cases, the bank may also ask for additional documents such as proof of residency or information about your financial situation.

Insurances

In Switzerland, a lot of emphasis is placed on insurance, which is why it is advisable to find out about the various insurances and providers before moving/relocating from Germany to Switzerland. But which insurances are mandatory and which are optional?

Mandatory insurances:

  • In Switzerland, health insurance is mandatory. You are responsible for obtaining your own health insurance. Accident insurance is an exception. If you work more than eight hours per week for the same employer, you are covered by accident insurance through that employer. Otherwise, you must add accident insurance to your health insurance. Only basic insurance is mandatory.
  • Liability insurance for motor vehicles is mandatory in Switzerland. Without this insurance your car will not be registered in Switzerland. It covers damage to people, property and other people’s vehicles that you cause with your car or motorcycle. Depending on the type of vehicle, liability insurance is either part of car insurance or motorcycle insurance.

Optional insurances:

  • Personal liability insurance covers damage you cause to other people or their property. Certain landlords / owners require proof of personal liability insurance
  • Home contents insurance protects you against the financial consequences of damage to your movable property caused by burglary, fire or flood, for example. Certain landlords / owners require proof of personal liability insurance
  • There are countless other insurances that you can take out, but which do not deal at all or only very remotely with the topic of housing.

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