The independent alpine nation of Switzerland has a strong economy and structured business environment that may be ideal for contractors. If you do find a Swiss client to work with, your first concern will be finding out what visas are required. This guide will cover the various visas and work permits in Switzerland available to different types of foreign contractors.
Working in Switzerland
Switzerland is not a part of the European Union but does have access to its single market. This means that EU member nations can interact more easily with Switzerland, and that includes foreign workers. Switzerland is less friendly toward citizens of ‘third countries, as it is dedicated to preserving jobs and opportunities for Swiss or EU citizens.
Much of the governmental oversight in the country is administered at the canton level, which are regions within Switzerland. Therefore, some of the standards or regulations may differ depending on where you work and live.
What type of visas are required to work in Switzerland?
The type of visa that you need will depend in large part on your nationality, and if you are a citizen of the European Union. Briefly, EU nationals will have an easier time of it, but there are pathways for those from third countries (which now includes the UK).
Any foreign contractor who has less than 90 days’ stay or per year will not need a work permit but must register online if working more than 8 days.
EU nationals don’t need a visa and will only apply for a ‘B’ residence permit. This doubles as a work permit and allows for self-employment.
Non-EU nationals from non-member countries can only engage in self-employment if they already have a ‘C’ residence permit or are married to a Swiss citizen. The other route is to apply for a self-employment permit (SE1) with the Cantonal immigration authorities (not federal), who may approve it based on your finances, business plan and experience.
If you want to apply for a work permit as an employee of your client, keep in mind there are strict quotas for traditional employment visas. That makes this approach less practical than in other countries.
What is required to apply for a work visa in Switzerland?
To apply for the self-employed work permits in Switzerland, you will have to apply for the SE1 with the canton as a sole proprietor. You will have to show a business plan and financial means, and in many cases, the approval will vary by canton.
How can I apply for a Swiss work visa?
You can apply on your while still at home or on a temporary visa. This is assuming that you can navigate the documentation and rules. You can also engage a Swiss umbrella company to apply for you as your sponsor.
Are there any important considerations/regulations I should know about the work visas?
Switzerland is well-known for its strict approach to both business and immigration compliance. So, there won’t be any shortcuts or borderline compliance methods as in some countries.
For example, entering for 90 days and working visa-free is allowed. However, beyond that, it is essential to obtain the correct work permit. Continuing to work without a permit would certainly result in expulsion from the country if discovered.
How Contractor Taxation can help you with work permits in Switzerland
If the work permit process seems daunting, then we can help you through our licensed umbrella companies in Switzerland. They can assist you with a wide range of contracting issues so that you can concentrate on serving your clients.
The umbrella company will:
- Handle all client payments, tax withholding and any social contributions
- Issue you a payslip each month, to a local or foreign account
- Can sponsor visas, work permits and extensions
- Help set up the contract with the client
- Moderate any disputes with your client
- Advice on access to totalization and double taxation treaties
Contractor Taxation has experienced umbrella companies in Switzerland who are ready to help you with your work permit right away, even before you leave home. Please contact us for more information on how an umbrella company can be your essential partner in international contracting.