Moving to Switzerland as a family is very attractive. Safety, good quality of life, wonderful landscapes, a good education system — all these recognized assets explain why the country is always in a very good position in the rankings of countries to move to with children.
But even if the country is welcoming, you still should be well-prepared before moving to Switzerland with kids.
Moving to Switzerland with Family: Administrative Procedures
Legal requirements to move to Switzerland with your family
European citizens only need their passport or national identity card to live in Switzerland as a family.
But even if no visa is required to entry Switzerland, the work permit and the residence permit are still legal obligations. The children and spouse of the applicant also benefit from these permits.
The type of permit to apply for depends on the expatriate’s employment contract:
- Employment contracts of less than one year, or job seekers: Livret L, valid for 12 months and renewable.
- Employment contracts of more than one year or persons without activity who can justify sufficient means: Livret B, valid for 5 years and renewable.
After 5 years of uninterrupted residence in Switzerland, it is possible to apply for a Livret C, which is valid for an unlimited period.
Other useful administrative procedures for moving to Switzerland with kids
Among the other important steps to take when moving to Switzerland with your family, there is the obligation, after 3 months of residence, to exchange your driving license for a Swiss one, otherwise you will not be allowed to drive in the country.
You must also be concerned about your tax situation: moving to Switzerland with your family generally implies the loss of your original tax resident status. In this case, the Swiss legislation will apply in terms of taxation.
However, some amounts may still be due in your country of origin, such as property taxes on real estate.
To be in order and avoid any risk of double taxation, as well as to obtain more precise information, you should think about notifying your change of residence to your country’s tax authorities, and make an appointment with an advisor if necessary.
Cost of Living in Switzerland with a Family
Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in Europe
We must be honest: if Switzerland is a particularly welcoming destination, it is also one of the most expensive countries in Europe to live in, in all areas:
Of course, the high salaries offered in the country compensate for most of these expenses, and there are important differences between the different cantons.
But this is still something to consider before moving to Switzerland with your family.
This cost is particularly high for health care. Even if the medical field is of excellent quality in Switzerland, a simple visit to the general practitioner sets the tone: billed by time, a 20-minute consultation costs about 60 euros. As for the dentist, a check-up costs about 200 euros.
It goes without saying that with kids, health expenses can quickly become a financial drain.
Health Insurance for a Family Living in Switzerland
Expats are required to join the Swiss health insurance system (LaMal) within three months of moving to the country, unless they are seconded workers. It covers :
- General medical expenses
- Hospitalization in a general ward
- Maternity care
- Prescription drugs
- Certain treatments, such as vaccinations or gynecology, under certain conditions.
An annual deductible (the amount above which reimbursements are triggered) and a co-payment (10% of the expenses to be paid by the insured) are applied, and the insured may therefore find himself with significant amounts to pay.
It is therefore recommended that expatriates in Switzerland take out a good international health insurance policy before moving to Switzerland.
It does not exempt from the compulsory health insurance, but allows the whole family to benefit from much more interesting reimbursements and services, and to be treated in Switzerland but also abroad, including during stays in the country of origin.
Schools in Switzerland
One of the most important questions to ask yourself before moving to Switzerland with your family is the schooling of your children.
Whatever their age, there is no need to worry: from school to university, the Swiss education system is excellent.
Students can choose from a wide range of higher education opportunities, but some programs have quotas or require applicants to pass language and aptitude tests.
Others are only open to foreigners if they are already resident in Switzerland at the time of application (e.g. medical studies).
For younger students, it is possible to attend an English-speaking school in the area where they live, where the level of education is quite satisfactory.
FAQs About Moving to Switzerland with a Family
Yes, there are a lot of international schools approved by Foreign Ministries of Education. These schools are generally located in major cities, such as Zurich, Geneva, Lausanne, Bern and Basel.
European and US nationals simply need their identity card or passport to enter Switzerland. However, a work permit and a residence permit are required to settle permanently in Switzerland.