If you are seeking employment before moving to Switzerland, we recommend that you consult the EURES advisers in your own country. If you are already in Switzerland, you can register free of charge with your local Regional Placement Office (RAV/ORP/URC).
Most vacancies in Switzerland are advertised on the internet. Various websites offer targeted jobseeking by area of activity (e.g. building, catering, healthcare services, IT, etc.). Another option is to register with a private employment agency. The services provided by these agencies are normally free of charge for jobseekers; if you are given a contract of employment, your employer will be asked to cover the cost of the service.
In Switzerland, vacancies are very often advertised in special supplements in the main daily newspapers too. The best known supplements are: ‘Emploi&Formation’, published by Le Temps in Geneva, ‘Emploi’, published by 24Heures in Lausanne, ‘Stellefant’, published by the Basler Zeitung, ‘Stellenmarkt’, published in Bund and in the Berner Zeitung, ‘Stellen-Anzeiger’ and ‘NZZ Executive’, which appear in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and ‘Alpha’, which can be found in the Zurich-based ‘Tages-Anzeiger’ and ‘SonntagsZeitung’ and in the ‘Corriere del Ticino’.
Jobs in Switzerland
A job application in Switzerland usually comprises a covering letter, a CV including a photograph, copies of diplomas and certificates of employment. The covering letter should interest the personnel officer sufficiently to induce them to take a closer look at your application. It must be typed and should not exceed one A4 page in length. State the reasons why you are interested in the job or the company as well as the skills and experience you have to offer the company. End the letter by suggesting a personal interview.
The CV should be no longer than two A4 pages and should contain the following information (if possible in table form): full name, address, telephone number, date of birth, nationality, professional experience and any work experience obtained during your training, general education (school, higher education and vocational training), knowledge of languages, computer skills, specific aptitudes and personal interests (leisure activities, clubs, etc.). Great importance is attached in Switzerland to diplomas and certificates of employment: describe your career progression, avoiding gaps if possible, and specify the Swiss degrees or other qualifications to which your diplomas correspond.
Another way of seeking work is to submit a speculative application, contacting an employer without knowing whether a vacancy actually exists. In this case, make your covering letter as specific as possible. It should be accompanied only by your CV. Certificates of employment and diplomas should be provided only if requested or should be taken to the interview. Prospective employers will tend to disregard speculative applications in the form of standard letters.
Lavoro.Swiss – Jobseekers > Publications – Applications
- Traineeship agreements are fixed-term contracts, generally of short duration.
- Generally yes, even if it is low, except in cases where the traineeship is mainly in the interests of the trainee, such as for career guidance or a short work placement. In such cases, the duration of the unpaid traineeship will be relatively short, i.e. 1 or 2 weeks.
- Rights to holidays and paid sick leave: as for other workers, trainees have a right to holidays as well as to paid sick leave. The latter only applies to periods of employment exceeding 3 months, or where an agreement has been concluded for a minimum period of 3 months.
- Social security contributions (AVS, AI, APG, AC and LPP): social security contributions are payable when the salary is above the thresholds defined by law.
- What about young trainees? The law contains several rules that strictly regulate, in particular, working hours and holidays.
Beyond these issues, trainees are regarded as ‘normal’ workers with the same rights and obligations as their colleagues.
Foreign workers who are gainfully employed in Switzerland must be in possession of a work permit. This obligation also applies to trainees. In the case of European Union nationals, authorisations for traineeships are granted on the basis of a written work contract.
Living and working conditions
Where to find opportunities
Funding and support
Where to advertise opportunities
The Swiss portal for traineeships publishes the traineeship places available from the beginning of 2023, as sent in to the cantons by companies.
Funding and support
The apprenticeship contract is governed by Articles 344 to 346a of the Code of Obligations (CO), along with the general provisions of Articles 319 et seq. of the CO which may apply. The Federal Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act (VPETA) must also be complied with.
Description of schemes
Would you like to have an overview of the vocational education and training system? The formazione professionale plus [vocational training plus] website contains a brief description of the various offers together with links to more detailed information.
Foreign nationals coming to work or study in Switzerland are subject to various requirements, such as having a residence permit, a visa for some nationalities, etc. In Switzerland, a distinction is made between EU/EFTA nationals and third-country nationals. Depending on the designated profession (i.e. a regulated or non-regulated profession) or the type of training to be undertaken in Switzerland, it may prove useful, or even necessary, to obtain official recognition of non-Swiss qualifications. In Switzerland, the authorities authorised to recognise qualifications vary according to the professional field and the level of education.
Living and working conditions
Would you like to have an overview of the vocational education and training system? The formazione professionale plus [vocational training plus] website contains a brief description of the various offers together with links to more detailed information.
Where to find opportunities
Funding and support
The free movement of goods is one of the cornerstones of the European Single Market.
The removal of national barriers to the free movement of goods within the EU is one of the principles enshrined in the EU Treaties. From a traditionally protectionist starting point, the countries of the EU have continuously been lifting restrictions to form a ‘common’ or single market. This commitment to create a European trading area without frontiers has led to the creation of more wealth and new jobs, and has globally established the EU as a world trading player alongside the United States and Japan.
Despite Europe’s commitment to breaking down all internal trade barriers, not all sectors of the economy have been harmonised. The European Union decided to regulate at a European level sectors which might impose a higher risk for Europe’s citizens – such as pharmaceuticals or construction products. The majority of products (considered a ‘lower risk’) are subject to the application of the so-called principle of mutual recognition, which means that essentially every product legally manufactured or marketed in one of the Member States can be freely moved and traded within the EU internal market.
Limits to the free movement of goods
The EU Treaty gives Member States the right to set limits to the free movement of goods when there is a specific common interest such as protection of the environment, citizens’ health, or public policy, to name a few. This means for example that if the import of a product is seen by a Member State’s national authorities as a potential threat to public health, public morality or public policy, it can deny or restrict access to its market. Examples of such products are genetically modified food or certain energy drinks.
Even though there are generally no limitations for the purchase of goods in another Member State, as long as they are for personal use, there is a series of European restrictions for specific categories of products, such as alcohol and tobacco.
Free movement of capital
Another essential condition for the functioning of the internal market is the free movement of capital. It is one of the four basic freedoms guaranteed by EU legislation and represents the basis of the integration of European financial markets. Europeans can now manage and invest their money in any EU Member State.
The liberalisation of capital markets has marked a crucial point in the process of economic and monetary integration in the EU. It was the first step towards the establishment of our European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the common currency, the Euro.
The principle of the free movement of capital not only increases the efficiency of financial markets within the Union, it also brings a series of advantages to EU citizens. Individuals can carry out a broad number of financial operations within the EU without major restrictions. For instance, individuals with few restrictions can
- easily open a bank account,
- buy shares
- invest, or
- purchase real estate
in another Member State. EU Companies can invest in, own and manage other European enterprises.
Certain exceptions to this principle apply both within the Member States and with third countries. They are mainly related to taxation, prudential supervision, public policy considerations, money laundering and financial sanctions agreed under the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.
The European Commission is continuing to work on the completion of the free market for financial services, by implementing new strategies for financial integration in order to make it even easier for citizens and companies to manage their money within the EU.
There are two main ways of finding accommodation in Switzerland: browsing the property advertisements published online or in local and regional newspapers on a regular basis, or contacting estate agents in the area where you wish to live (see ‘Links’).
Housing availability on the Swiss market is somewhat limited, especially in certain regions; it is therefore sometimes very difficult to find accommodation, especially in the towns and cities. You are therefore advised to start looking as soon as possible. You should also bear in mind that rents in Switzerland are relatively high compared with those in other European countries. Renting is quite a costly option in the long run, and EU nationals living in Switzerland may prefer to buy a flat or a house. However, this is also a rather costly option. To obtain a mortgage, you must put down a minimum deposit of 20%. Residential property for sale can be found in the same way as rented accommodation (through websites, newspapers or estate agents).
We also recommend that you read the ‘Accommodation’ section, which contains a great deal of practical information on terms and conditions of renting and buying, tenancy agreements, deposits payable, etc.
Swiss Government portal – Rent
To find a school for your child (pre-school, primary school or lower secondary school level), we recommend that you contact your local municipality or chosen school directly. In the latter case, you should take along, if possible, a residence permit and a health insurance certificate for your child. If your child does not speak the language of your canton of residence, we recommend enrolling them in an integration class to improve their language skills before starting the normal school curriculum. For more information, see EDUCA, the Swiss information platform for education.
A wealth of useful information on higher education (universities) is available on the ‘swissuniversities’ website, the common body responsible for university policy. Admission criteria for higher education in Switzerland are very strict, and university courses are generally very expensive. In certain cases, you can apply for a grant. Relevant information can be obtained from the Federal Commission for Foreign Student Grants. Another option is to enrol your child at an international school or a private school. For the former, you should contact your home country’s diplomatic representative in Switzerland. For the latter, we would advise you to visit the website of the Swiss Federation of Private Schools.
Scholarships for foreign students
The implementation of the principle of free movement of people, is one of the cornerstones of our European construction, has meant the introduction a series of practical rules to ensure that citizens can travel freely and easily to any Member State of the European Union. Travelling across the EU with one’s car has become a lot less problematic. The European Commission has set a series of common regulations governing the mutual recognition of driving licences, the validity of car insurance, and the possibility of registering your car in a host country.
Your driving licence in the EU
The EU has introduced a harmonised licence model and further minimum requirements for obtaining a licence. This should help to keep unsafe drivers off Europe's roads - wherever they take their driving test.
Since 19 January 2013, all driving licences issued by EU countries have the same look and feel. The licences are printed on a piece of plastic that has the size and shape of a credit card.
Harmonised administrative validity periods for the driving licence document have been introduced which are between 10 and 15 years for motorcycles and passenger cars. This enables the authorities to regularly update the driving licence document with new security features that will make it harder to forge or tamper - so unqualified or banned drivers will find it harder to fool the authorities, in their own country or elsewhere in the EU.
The new European driving licence is also protecting vulnerable road users by introducing progressive access for motorbikes and other powered two-wheelers. The "progressive access" system means that riders will need experience with a less powerful bike before they go on to bigger machines. Mopeds will also constitute a separate category called AM.
You must apply for a licence in the country where you usually or regularly live. As a general rule, it is the country where you live for at least 185 days each calendar year because of personal or work-related ties.
If you have personal/work-related ties in 2 or more EU countries, your place of usual residence is the place where you have personal ties, as long as you go back regularly. You don't need to meet this last condition if you are living in an EU country to carry out a task for a fixed period of time.
If you move to another EU country to go to college or university, your place of usual residence doesn't change. However, you can apply for a driving licence in your host country if you can prove you have been studying there for at least 6 months.
Registering your car in the host country
If you move permanently to another EU country and take your car with you, you should register your car and pay car-related taxes in your new country.
There are no common EU rules on vehicle registration and related taxes. Some countries have tax-exemption rules for vehicle registration when moving with the car from one country to another permanently.
To benefit from a tax exemption, you must check the applicable deadlines and conditions in the country you wish to move to.
Check the exact rules and deadlines with the national authorities: https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/registration/registration-abroad/index_en.htm
EU citizens can insure their car in any EU country, as long as the chosen insurance company is licensed by the host national authority to issue the relevant insurance policies. A company based in another Member State is entitled sell a policy for compulsory civil liability only if certain conditions are met. Insurance will be valid throughout the Union, no matter where the accident takes place.
Value Added Tax or VAT on motor vehicles is ordinarily paid in the country where the car is purchased, although under certain conditions, VAT is paid in the country of destination.
More information on the rules which apply when a vehicle is acquired in one EU Member State and is intended to be registered in another EU Member State is available on this link https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/vehicles/registration/taxes-abroad/index_en.htm.
The cantons are responsible for issuing permits. If you would like detailed information on the administrative formalities relating to the issuing of permits (place of application, forms to be filled in, duration of the procedure, etc.) please contact the competent cantonal authorities
Under the safeguard clause, Croatian nationals wishing to take up gainful employment in Switzerland as of 1 January 2023 require a residence permit, subject to a quota.
You will find the documents relevant to your stay, according to nationality, at the following link:
State Secretariat for Migration SEM
Cantonal migration and labour market authorities
Cantonal migration and labour market authorities (admin.ch)
Leaving your home country to live and work abroad is not an easy decision to make. Nothing can be left to chance if you are emigrating. Here are some practical tips to help you to decide on and plan your move.
The two most important considerations when moving to another country are seeking work and finding somewhere to live. Given the problems of arriving in another country without a job or somewhere to live, we recommend that you do everything you can to organise these aspects before making the move to Switzerland. For this purpose, you may find it useful to visit our country beforehand to make the necessary preparations. See the relevant sections on jobs and accommodation for practical information to help you with your search.
Once you have found a job and accommodation in Switzerland, you will have to deal with the various formalities, such as moving house, customs clearance and notification of departure from your previous place of residence. As for the actual move, we recommend the use of a company specialising in international removals. Although this will probably be quite expensive (we recommend obtaining several estimates), it will potentially save you a great deal of trouble. Some of these companies also handle the customs formalities. If you decide to organise your move yourself, it is advisable to contact all the customs stations on your removal route in advance to save precious time.
Please see the relevant sections for information on importing a vehicle, pets and plants. You should also inform your bank and the authorities in your country (tax authorities, insurance schemes, population register, etc.) of your impending move.
On arrival in Switzerland, you must register with the relevant authorities in the municipality in which you arrive within 14 days, and in any case before starting work. You should also inform the electricity provider that provides residents with water and electricity, and take out health insurance within 3 months. Finally, you have 1 year to exchange your driving licence for a Swiss licence at your canton’s Road Traffic Office.
State Secretariat for Migration
Quality of work and employment - a vital issue, with a strong economic and humanitarian impact
Good working conditions are important for the well-being of European workers. They
- contribute to the physical and psychological welfare of Europeans, and
- contribute to the economic performance of the EU.
From a humanitarian point of view, the quality of working environment has a strong influence on the overall work and life satisfaction of European workers.
From an economic point of view, high-quality job conditions are a driving force of economic growth and a foundation for the competitive position of the European Union. A high level of work satisfaction is an important factor for achieving high productivity of the EU economy.
It is therefore a core issue for the European Union to promote the creation and maintenance of a sustainable and pleasant working environment – one that promotes health and well-being of European employees and creates a good balance between work and non-work time.
Improving working conditions in Europe: an important objective for the European Union.
Ensuring favourable working conditions for European citizens is a priority for the EU. The European Union is therefore working together with national governments to ensure a pleasant and secure workplace environment. Support to Member States is provided through:
- the exchange of experience between different countries and common actions
- the establishment of the minimum requirements on working conditions and health and safety at work, to be applied all over the European Union
Criteria for quality of work and employment
In order to achieve sustainable working conditions, it is important to determine the main characteristics of a favourable working environment and thus the criteria for the quality of working conditions.
The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) in Dublin, is an EU agency that provides information, advice and expertise on, as the name implies, living and working conditions. This agency has established several criteria for job and employment quality, which include:
- health and well-being at the workplace – this is a vital criteria, since good working conditions suppose the prevention of health problems at the work place, decreasing the exposure to risk and improving work organisation
- reconciliation of working and non-working life – citizens should be given the chance to find a balance between the time spent at work and at leisure
- skills development – a quality job is one that gives possibilities for training, improvement and career opportunities
The work of Eurofound contributes to the planning and design of better living and working conditions in Europe.
Health and safety at work
The European Commission has undertaken a wide scope of activities to promote a healthy working environment in the EU Member States. Amongst others, it developed a Community Strategy for Health and Safety at Work for the period 2021-2027. This strategy was set up with the help of national authorities, social partners and NGOs. It addresses the changing needs in worker’s protection brought by the digital and green transitions, new forms of work and the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the framework will continue to address traditional occupational safety and health risks, such as risks of accidents at work or exposure to hazardous chemicals.
The Community policy on health and safety at work aims at a long-lasting improvement of well-being of EU workers. It takes into account the physical, moral and social dimensions of working conditions, as well as the new challenges brought up by the enlargement of the European Union towards countries from Central and Eastern Europe. The introduction of EU standards for health and safety at the workplace, has contributed a lot to the improvement of the situation of workers in these countries.
Improving working conditions by setting minimum requirements common to all EU countries
Improving living and working conditions in the EU Member States depends largely on the establishment of common labour standards. EU labour laws and regulations have set the minimum requirements for a sustainable working environment and are now applied in all Member States. The improvement of these standards has strengthened workers’ rights and is one of the main achievements of the EU’s social policy.
The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers
The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will not become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.
Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU
As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.
For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.
Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe
The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:
- An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
- The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.
Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU
Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.
In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.
The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.
A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.
The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.
Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents
- a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
- a cover letter editor,
- certificate supplements,
- diploma supplements, and
- a Europass-Mobility document.
The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.
In Switzerland, the statutory minimum working age is 15. In some exceptional cases, however (messenger services, light work, cultural, artistic and sporting events or advertising), young people from the age of 13 may be employed.
Switzerland has various types of employment contracts. First, there are individual employment contracts, under which an employee undertakes to work for an employer in return for payment. These involve certain rights and obligations: the employee must perform the relevant work, while the employer must pay the employee’s remuneration and social security contributions, grant the employee paid holidays, etc.
Another common type of employment contract is a collective labour agreement (CLA). Based on negotiations between unions and employers, the CLA contains provisions on the conclusion, content and termination of individual employment contracts, the rights and obligations of the contracting parties, the scope of the agreement and how it is to be overseen. In addition, the authorities may draw up a standard employment contract for particular occupations. Part-time and home working (teleworking) can be regulated by all three types of contract.
For information on self-employment and au pair work, please see the relevant sections.
Switzerland has no special regulations for seasonal workers. There is no definition of seasonal work; the usual rules (labour law, collective labour agreements, etc.) governing the employment contract also apply to persons with short-term contracts.
Citizens of EU-27/EFTA member states do not require a residence permit to take up employment with a company in Switzerland for a period of up to 3 months per calendar year. Nevertheless, such employment requires an electronic notification of short-term stays. An online notification form must be submitted no later than the day before starting work.
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs > Employment
Swiss law does not stipulate a specific form for a contract of employment.
In principle, even an oral contract is possible, but a written contract is recommended. A collective labour agreement (CLA) may stipulate the need for a written contract, while the law requires that certain types of contract (for example, apprenticeship contracts and agency-arranged temporary employment contracts) be concluded in written form.
Where an employment contract is concluded for an indefinite term or for more than 1 month, the employer must, within 1 month following the commencement of the contract, inform the employee in writing of the main contractual provisions (names of contracting parties, start date of employment contract, position of employee, remuneration, including any supplements, and weekly working hours). This obligation on the employer’s part is particularly important if there is no written contract of employment.
An employment contract must specify at least the employer’s and employee’s names, the start date of the contract, the work to be performed and the remuneration to be paid in return. Other important provisions of a contract are the probation period, which cannot exceed 3 months, and the period of notice (see section on ‘End of employment’). In addition, employment contracts must not make provision for immoral or illegal tasks.
As with any contract, the essential provisions of an existing employment contract may not be amended except by agreement between the parties. If an employer should decide to amend any essential provision of an employment contract (for example a reduction in the employee’s pay), the amendment must be submitted to the employee, who must be allowed an adequate period for reflection. If the employee fails to object during this period, the amendment is deemed to have been accepted and is adopted.
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs > Labour rights
As stated in the section ‘Kinds of employment’, the statutory minimum working age is 15. The working hours of young people must also take account of their age, lack of experience and educational obligations. In principle, they will not be allowed to work at night or on Sundays.
People with disabilities still suffer from discrimination in the labour market. To address this issue, Switzerland has adopted a disabled persons’ law that provides for various measures to facilitate their professional integration (adaptation of workplaces, financial assistance with integration, etc.). Invalidity insurance is the primary insurance scheme for the professional integration of people with disabilities into the world of work. It provides for measures to help both employees (careers guidance, reintegration into the labour market, daily subsistence allowances, travelling expenses, etc.) and employers (meeting the cost of the necessary workplace aids, building work, etc.). The accident insurance scheme can also offer assistance in this respect. In addition, there are private organisations devoted to reintegrating people with disabilities into the labour market (see links below).
Procap for people with disabilities
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs > Pregnancy and Motherhood - Female employee protection
If you are self-employed, you have the same rights as an employed worker to set up and work in Switzerland provided that you do so under your own responsibility and at your own risk. Residence permits are issued for a 5-year period and carry the right to unlimited geographical and occupational mobility.
EU and EFTA nationals who plan to be self-employed must register with the municipal authorities or with the cantonal labour or migration authority within 14 days of arriving in Switzerland and before starting work. They must also apply for a residence permit for self-employment. This requires the presentation of a valid identity card (or valid passport) as well as documents proving compliance with the requirements for genuine self-employment (start-up capital, bank statements and, where appropriate, inclusion in the register of companies). They may not start gainful self-employed work before obtaining a permit.
The Federal Council has activated the safeguard clause with effect from 1 January 2023 for Croatian nationals. As a result, quotas are reintroduced for Croatian nationals for the issue of EU/EFTA L short-term residence permits and EU/EFTA B residence permits. The measure affects Croatian nationals with an employment contract of more than four months who wish to take up employment in Switzerland, as well as Croatian nationals who wish to pursue self-employment in Switzerland.
Please note that if your annual turnover exceeds CHF 100 000, value added tax (VAT) of 7.7% is payable (2023). You are personally responsible for carrying out the necessary procedures to arrange social security insurance (old-age insurance (AVS), invalidity insurance (AI), loss-of-earnings insurance (IPG) and health insurance). A number of organisations can help you to set up in Switzerland on a self-employed basis (see 'Related topics').
Contributions by self-employed persons to the AVS/AI/IPG
SME-Portal of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO
Switzerland does not have a statutory minimum wage at the present time. Only certain collective labour agreements include binding provisions on remuneration. Even so, wage levels in Switzerland overall are higher than in other European countries. In 2020, the gross median wage was CHF 6 665. However, levels vary considerably from one economic sector to another. The pay calculator provided by the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (SGB) can be used to determine age- and qualification-related pay levels in seven major regions of the country and more than 40 industries (see 'Related topics').
Wages and salaries in Switzerland are still determined on the basis of seniority. However, more and more employers in both the public and the private sector are switching to a system of performance-related pay. Women’s pay is still lower on average than men’s, regardless of qualifications.
Social security contributions deducted at source by employers in Switzerland are generally lower than in the majority of European countries. Net pay (i.e. gross pay less contributions deducted for occupational benefit schemes, unemployment, insurance, tax, etc.) is therefore higher in Switzerland than in other European countries. However, it is important to remember that the cost of living in Switzerland is also higher than in the rest of Europe. Overall, social security deductions amount to about 16% of gross pay.
Swiss nationals pay their taxes at the end of the year, while foreign employees other than holders of category C EU/EFTA permits have their tax deducted at source each month by their employer (pay as you earn). Employers pay the deducted amounts directly to the tax authorities. Tax rates vary between cantons.
Under Swiss law, the maximum weekly working hours for industrial workers, office staff, technicians and other employees, including the sales staff of major retailers, are set at 45 hours. The limit for all other workers is 50 hours per week. The average weekly working time in Swiss enterprises in 2018 was 41.08 hours (source: Federal Statistical Office).
The scheduling of working hours is, in principle, the responsibility of employers. Employers must, however, observe the relevant statutory requirements (rest periods, breaks, public holidays, time off at weekends, prohibition of night and Sunday working, etc.) and must consult staff with regard to work schedules, allowing as far as possible for individual needs. For more information, we recommend consulting your employer or the relevant authorities.
Overtime, defined as hours worked over and above the agreed working hours but not exceeding the statutory maximum weekly working hours, must be compensated with a premium of 25% of the normal hourly wage; alternatively, if the employee agrees, it can be compensated with time off of the same duration. Different arrangements may, however, be agreed in writing between employers and employees. Overtime in excess of the maximum weekly working time of 45 or 50 hours is governed by the provisions of the Employment Act. It must be compensated with a premium of 25% or, if the employee agrees, with time off of the same duration.
Temporary work performed at night, on Sundays or on public holidays carries an entitlement to special remuneration. For regular night work, for instance, the Employment Act provides for an obligatory 10% time credit for all employees. This cannot be converted into a pecuniary equivalent unless the person’s employment ends.
Working hours in Switzerland
Working hours and breaks
The statutory minimum annual leave is 4 weeks for employees and apprentices over the age of 20 and 5 weeks for employees and apprentices up to the age of 20. This minimum may be increased by contractual agreement. Collective labour agreements often provide for longer periods of leave, especially for employees with a specified number of years’ service and/or of a certain age. The period of leave can be reduced if employees are unable to work for a long period following a prolonged illness, a long period of unpaid leave, etc. Generally speaking, leave must be agreed for the current year of service and must include at least 2 consecutive weeks. Employees continue to receive their full pay during annual leave. Throughout the term of employment, leave entitlement cannot be converted into pecuniary compensation or other benefits.
Switzerland’s statutory public holidays are as follows: New Year’s Day (1 January), Ascension Day, Swiss National Day (1 August) and Christmas Day (25 December). All other public holidays (Easter, Whitsun, Corpus Christi, etc.) are decided on a cantonal basis, with each canton being able to decide whether or not to grant a holiday on these days. An overview of the holidays observed in each Swiss canton can be found below under ‘Related topics’. As regards sick leave, most employers require a medical certificate for any absence in excess of 3 consecutive days due to sickness. The law requires employers to continue to pay, for a limited period, employees who are unable to work due to sickness. In addition, all mothers engaged in gainful employment are entitled to paid maternity leave for 98 days (14 weeks) after the birth of their child. They receive 80% of their pay in the form of a daily allowance, subject to a ceiling of CHF 220 per day (2023). Cantonal provisions, staff regulations and collective labour agreements apply if they provide for more generous benefits.
With effect from 1 January 2021, fathers engaged in gainful employment are entitled to 2 weeks of paternity leave (a maximum of 14 working days) during the 6 months following the birth of their child. To compensate for the loss of earnings, they will receive an allowance equal to 80 % of the average income, less AVS, prior to the birth of the child, up to a maximum amount of CHF 196 per day (2023).
Lastly, Switzerland has a number of types of leave that are guaranteed by law or by collective labour agreements. These include leave for youth workers, which provides 5 days of extra leave per year for employees and apprentices under the age of 30 who perform voluntary work with young people. Employers must also grant workers the customary days off for events such as marriage, childbirth, the death of a close relative or moving house.
Table of public holidays
Fixed-term employment contracts, which are concluded for a period specified by the two parties (employer and employee), end on the final day of the agreed period, without notice having to be given. If a contract is tacitly renewed after the end of the agreed period, it is deemed to have become an indefinite contract. Indefinite contracts of this kind may be terminated by either party, provided that the period of notice is observed. The party giving notice must state the reasons for this decision in writing if so required by the other party. In addition, employers and employees may agree at any time to end their employment contract. This is known as termination of employment by mutual consent (cancellation agreement).
During the probationary period, either party can terminate the contract at any time, subject to 7 days’ notice. Different arrangements may be made by means of a written agreement, a standard contract or a collective labour agreement, but the probationary period must not exceed 3 months. After the end of the probationary period, an employment contract may be terminated with effect from the end of any month, subject to 1 month’s notice in the first year of service, 2 months’ notice from the second to the ninth year of service inclusive and 3 months’ notice thereafter. These periods may be amended by a written agreement, a standard contract or a collective labour agreement.
Special provisions apply if an employment contract ends on account of retirement. The normal retirement age is 65 for men and 64 for women. Persons reaching these ages are entitled to an old-age pension (AVS). The flexible retirement system allows people to retire 1 or 2 years early or to continue working for an additional 1 to 5 years. Early retirement carries the penalty of a reduced pension for the entire period of entitlement, whereas a higher pension is payable in the event of deferred retirement. To qualify for a full pension, men must have 44 years of contributions and women must have 43 years. To supplement the old-age pension (the ‘first pillar’ of the pension system), an occupational benefit scheme (second pillar) must guarantee those insured an income equivalent to 60% of their last pensionable salary. An optional linked personal pension (third pillar) can be obtained by means of a life-insurance policy, savings plans or top-up insurance policies.
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs > Labour rights
Approximately one in four workers in Switzerland is a member of a trade union or similar association. This is quite a small proportion by Western European standards. Most trade unions and professional organisations belong to one of the two umbrella associations, the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (SGB/USS) and Travail.Suisse. The level of union fees varies substantially, depending on members’ occupations and incomes.
Trade unions champion workers' interests, with a focus on working conditions. In their bid for better conditions, unions play a part in the organisation of day-to-day activities in business enterprises by concluding collective labour agreements (CLAs) and, if necessary, by taking direct action in the workplace. Trade unions also pursue political and social aims, campaigning alongside politically like-minded bodies and individuals for social justice and better working conditions.
In addition, there are various national, cantonal and municipal organisations for the protection of workers’ rights, such as the cantonal labour inspectorates. In companies with 50 or more employees, staff may elect one or more worker representatives to exercise workers’ participation rights.
Swiss Federation of Trade Unions
Cantonal civil courts – usually the labour courts – have jurisdiction in disputes arising from individual contracts of employment. Collective labour disputes are settled in a different manner in each canton. All cantons have conciliation agencies that deal with such disputes. The Federal Conciliation Office has jurisdiction in disputes extending beyond the territory of a single canton, but acts only if explicitly requested to do so by the parties (employers or employers’ associations and trade unions) and only if attempts to reach agreement by direct negotiation have failed.
The lawfulness of strikes and lockouts is enshrined in the Federal Constitution as an expression of freedom of association, although strikes can be prohibited under the Constitution for specific categories of persons. Strikes and lockouts are lawful only if they concern employment contracts, do not conflict with the requirement to maintain peaceful labour relations or to negotiate a settlement and represent a proportionate response. Participation in a lawful strike and the consequent stoppage of work do not constitute non-observance of the contractual obligation to work. On the other hand, employers are not required to pay strikers for the duration of a stoppage.
Diritto di sciopero UNIA > Mondo del lavoro > Diritti sindacali> Diritto di sciopero [The right to strike > The world of work > Trade union rights > The right to strike]
The term Vocational Education and Training refers to practical activities and courses related to a specific occupation or vocation, aimed at preparing participants for their future careers. Vocational training is an essential means to achieve professional recognition and improve chances to get a job. It is therefore vital that vocational training systems in Europe respond to the needs of citizens and the labour market in order to facilitate access to employment.
Vocational education and training has been an essential part of EU policy since the very establishment of the European Community. It is also a crucial element of the so-called EU Lisbon Strategy, which aims at transforming Europe into the world’s most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based society. In 2002 the European Council reaffirmed this vital role, and established yet another ambitious goal – to make European education and training renowned globally by the year 2010 – by championing a number of world-class initiatives, and in particular by strengthening cooperation in the area of vocational training.
On 24 November 2020, the Council of the European Union adopted a Recommendation on vocational education and training for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience.
The Recommendation defines key principles for ensuring that vocational education and training is agile in that it adapts swiftly to labour market needs and provides quality learning opportunities for young people and adults alike.
It places a strong focus on the increased flexibility of vocational education and training, reinforced opportunities for work-based learning, apprenticeships and improved quality assurance.
The Recommendation also replaces the EQAVET – European Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training – Recommendation and includes an updated EQAVET Framework with quality indicators and descriptors. It repeals the former ECVET Recommendation.
To promote these reforms, the Commission supports Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) which bring together local partners to develop ‘skills ecosystems'. Skills ecosystems will contribute to regional, economic and social development, innovation and smart specialisation strategies.
Erasmus+ is the EU's programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe.
It has an estimated budget of €26.2 billion. This is nearly double the funding compared to its predecessor programme (2014-2020).
The 2021-2027 programme places a strong focus on social inclusion, the green and digital transitions, and promoting young people’s participation in democratic life.
It supports priorities and activities set out in the European Education Area, Digital Education Action Plan and the European Skills Agenda. The programme also
- supports the European Pillar of Social Rights
- implements the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027
- develops the European dimension in sport
Who can take part? Find out here.
Adult Education and Lifelong Learning in Europe
Lifelong learning is a process that involves all forms of education – formal, informal and non-formal – and lasts from the pre-school period until after retirement. It is meant to enable people to develop and maintain key competencies throughout their life as well as to empower citizens to move freely between jobs, regions and countries. Lifelong learning is also a core element of the previously mentioned Lisbon Strategy, as it is crucial for self-development and the raising of competitiveness and employability. The EU has adopted several instruments for the promotion of adult education in Europe.
In order to make lifelong learning a reality in Europe, the European Commission has set itself the objective of creating a European Area of Lifelong Learning. In this context, the Commission focuses on identifying the needs of both learners and the labour market in order to make education more accessible and subsequently create partnerships between public administrations, suppliers of educational services and civil society.
This EU initiative is based on the objective of providing basic skills – by strengthening counselling and information services at a European level, and by recognising all forms of learning, including formal education and informal and non-formal training.
EU organisations promoting vocational education in Europe
With the objective of facilitating cooperation and exchange in the field of vocational training, the EU has set up specialised bodies working in the field of VOCATIONAL TRAINING.
The European Centre for Vocational Training (CEDEFOP / Centre Européen pour le Développement de la Formation Professionnelle) was created in 1975 as a specialised EU agency for the promotion and development of vocational education and training in Europe. Based in Thessaloniki, Greece, it carries out research and analysis on vocational training and disseminates its expertise to various European partners, such as related research institutions, universities or training facilities.
The European Training Foundation was established in 1995 and works in close collaboration with CEDEFOP. Its mission is to support partner countries (from outside the EU) to modernise and develop their systems for vocational training.
Quality of life – on top of the EU social policy agenda
Favourable living conditions depend on a wide range of factors, such as quality healthcare services, education and training opportunities or good transport facilities, just to name a few aspects affecting citizens’ everyday life and work. The European Union has set for itself the aim to constantly improve the quality of life in all its Member States, and to take into account the new challenges of contemporary Europe, such as socially exclude people or an aging population.
Employment in Europe
Improving employment opportunities in Europe is a key priority for the European Commission. With the prospect of tackling the problem of unemployment and increasing the mobility between jobs and regions, a wide variety of initiatives at EU level are being developed and implemented to support the European Employment strategy. These include the European Employment Services network (EURES) and the EU Skills Panorama.
Health and healthcare in the European Union
Health is a cherished value, influencing people’s daily lives and therefore an important priority for all Europeans. A healthy environment is crucial for our individual and professional development, and EU citizens are ever more demanding about health and safety at work and the provision of high quality healthcare services. They require quick and easy access to medical treatment when travelling across the European Union. EU health policies are aimed at responding to these needs.
The European Commission has developed a coordinated approach to health policy, putting into practice a series of initiatives that complement the actions of national public authorities. The Union’s common actions and objectives are included in EU health programmes and strategies.
The current EU4Health Programme (2021-2027) is the EU’s ambitious response to COVID-19. The pandemic has a major impact on patients, medical and healthcare staff, and health systems in Europe. The new EU4Health programme will go beyond crisis response to address healthcare systems’ resilience.
EU4Health, established by Regulation (EU) 2021/522, will provide funding to eligible entities, health organisations and NGOs from EU countries, or non-EU countries associated to the programme.
With EU4Health, the EU will invest €5.3 billion in current prices in actions with an EU added value, complementing EU countries’ policies and pursuing one or several of EU4Health´s objectives:
- To improve and foster health in the Union
- disease prevention & health promotion
- international health initiatives & cooperation
- To tackle cross-border health threats
- prevention, preparedness & response to cross-border health threats
- complementing national stockpiling of essential crisis-relevant products
- establishing a reserve of medical, healthcare & support staff
- To improve medicinal products, medical devices and crisis-relevant products
- making medicinal products, medical devices and crisis-relevant products available and affordable
- To strengthen health systems, their resilience and resource efficiency
- strengthening health data, digital tools & services, digital transformation of healthcare
- improving access to healthcare
- developing and implementing EU health legislation and evidence-based decision making
- integrated work among national health systems
Education in the EU
Education in Europe has both deep roots and great diversity. Already in 1976, education ministers decided to set up an information network to better understand educational policies and systems in the then nine-nation European Community. This reflected the principle that the particular character of an educational system in any one Member State ought to be fully respected, while coordinated interaction between education, training and employment systems should be improved. Eurydice, the information network on education in Europe, was formally launched in 1980.
In 1986, attention turned from information exchanges to student exchanges with the launch of the Erasmus programme, now grown into the Erasmus+programme, often cited as one of the most successful initiatives of the EU.
Transport in the EU
Transport was one of the first common policies of the then European Community. Since 1958, when the Treaty of Rome entered into force, the EU’s transport policy has focused on removing border obstacles between Member States, thereby enabling people and goods to move quickly, efficiently and cheaply.
This principle is closely connected to the EU’s central goal of a dynamic economy and cohesive society. The transport sector generates 10% of EU wealth measured by gross domestic product (GDP), equivalent to about one trillion Euros a year. It also provides more than ten million jobs.
The Schengen area
The Schengen Convention, in effect since March 1995, abolished border controls within the area of the signatory States and created a single external frontier, where checks have to be carried out in accordance with a common set of rules.
Today, the Schengen Area encompasses most EU countries, except for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania. However, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are currently in the process of joining the Schengen Area and already applying the Schengen acquis to a large extent. Additionally, also the non-EU States Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have joined the Schengen Area.
The creation of a single European market in air transport has meant lower fares and a wider choice of carriers and services for passengers. The EU has also created a set of rights to ensure air passengers are treated fairly.
As an air passenger, you have certain rights when it comes to information about flights and reservations, damage to baggage, delays and cancellations, denied boarding, compensation in the case of accident or difficulties with package holidays. These rights apply to scheduled and chartered flights, both domestic and international, from an EU airport or to an EU airport from one outside the EU, when operated by an EU airline.
Over the last 25 years the Commission has been very active in proposing restructuring the European rail transport market and in order to strengthen the position of railways vis-à-vis other transport modes. The Commission's efforts have concentrated on three major areas which are all crucial for developing a strong and competitive rail transport industry:
- opening the rail transport market to competition,
- improving the interoperability and safety of national networks and
- developing rail transport infrastructure.
Switzerland is a democratic federal state with three tiers of government: the Confederation, the cantons and the municipalities. The Confederation is endowed with three powers: executive power lies with the Federal Council, composed of seven members elected for a 4-year term; legislative power lies with the Federal Assembly, comprising two chambers with equal rights, namely the Council of States with 46 deputies representing the cantons, and the National Council with 200 deputies representing the people, both sets of deputies being elected for a 4-year term; judicial power lies with the Federal Supreme Court. The second tier of government is formed by the 26 cantons, which have the status of federal states. Lastly, the municipalities are the basic unit of political organisation in Switzerland.
The Federal Constitution confers sovereignty – i.e. supreme political power – on the people, who elect the Parliament. Parliament in turn elects the Government (the Federal Council), which appoints the members of the Federal Supreme Court. The four main political parties (all represented in the government) are: the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the Liberals (FDP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Christian Democratic People’s Party (CVP).
Judicial power in Switzerland is essentially exercised at two levels – nationally by the Federal Supreme Court and regionally by the cantonal courts. As befits Switzerland’s federal structure, the judicial authorities are organised differently in each canton, and procedures in individual areas of the law also differ from one canton to another. See ‘Related topics’ for more information and for the addresses of all Swiss courts.
Swiss political system
Incomes vary depending on the industry, level of training and canton. The social security deductions include contributions to the old-age and survivors’ insurance schemes, invalidity, unemployment and loss-of-earnings insurance schemes, and to occupational benefit schemes, etc. They do not, however, include compulsory health insurance contributions as these are not income-dependent but vary according to the insurance company, place of residence and selected cover.
In Switzerland, income tax is levied both by the Confederation (direct federal tax) and by the cantons and municipalities (cantonal and local taxes). Since each of the 26 Swiss cantons has its own tax legislation, tax rates vary between cantons. As a rule, taxpayers must file an annual tax return.
The relevant tax factors (income and assets) and the amount of tax payable are determined on the basis of this return. Apart from income tax, which is normally deducted at source for EU and EFTA citizens, another major tax is value-added tax (VAT), which is currently (2023) charged at 7.7% and is applied to most goods and services. Other taxes levied in Switzerland include property tax, vehicle tax, the annual motorway sticker (vignette) charge and others.
The cost of living in Switzerland is among the highest in the world.
According to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the average disposable income for private households in Switzerland was CHF 6 789 per month in 2020.
The main household expenses include insurance, such as health insurance (6.7%), and the contributions for old-age pension (AVS) and to the pension fund (10.1%). Other major expense items are housing and utilities (14.4%), taxes (12.4%), food and drink (6.5%), restaurants (3.5%), and leisure and cultural activities (4%).
Source: Federal Statistical Office
Federal Statistical Office
Since housing prices are high in Switzerland, few people can afford to buy property, and so many rent their homes. The rent for an unfurnished dwelling with all modern conveniences, including a kitchen (with cooker and refrigerator) and bathroom differs from region to region. Renting has become much more expensive in recent years. The rent is normally paid monthly in advance, and heating, electricity, hot water, etc. are calculated separately.
The tenancy agreement must include the following details: landlord’s and tenant’s names, identification of the rented property and its use, term of the lease (normally indefinite), amount of the rent and additional charges. A deposit is payable only if specified in the tenancy agreement. The amount of the deposit, which must not exceed 3 months’ rent in the case of residential property, must be indicated in the tenancy agreement and must be paid into a dedicated account in the tenant’s name. Before the keys are handed over, an inspection is usually carried out in the presence of the landlord and the previous tenant too.
If you wish to purchase property, we recommend that you consult the relevant booklet published by the Federal Office of Justice or contact your bank.
Purchase of property by persons abroad
Outpatient medical care is mainly provided by doctors in private practices or in community practices and by the outpatient units of public hospitals or private clinics. Depending on the health insurance package chosen, patients are normally free to select the doctor of their choice and also have unlimited direct access to specialists. The cantons and municipalities provide a school medical service, which provides regular check-ups at state schools, monitors pupils’ immune status, administers vaccinations, etc.
Most dental care is provided by dentists in private practices and by public dental clinics. The compulsory basic insurance scheme covers only the cost of particular categories of treatment, primarily surgical measures. School dental services monitor all pupils’ dental health at various times during compulsory schooling and suggest any necessary treatment, the cost of which is normally paid by the child's family.
The provision of home medical care has increased considerably over the past few years. Basic insurance offers only partial cover for care at home and home help. The provision of these services is the responsibility of the municipalities, which often delegate this task to private bodies.
Around a third of the medicinal products authorised for sale are included in the list of prescription-only medicines; 90% of their cost is refunded by the compulsory basic insurance scheme. Medicines not included in the list are chargeable to the patient, or their cost may be covered by supplementary insurance; these can be obtained from any pharmacy in the country.
It should be noted that the Swiss healthcare system is very expensive. Even though the quality of care is superior to that of other countries, the cost of Swiss healthcare is second only to that of the United States.
Federal Office of Public Health
The characteristic feature of the Swiss education system is its diversity, each of the 26 cantons being responsible for all aspects of education in its territory. Lessons are taught in German, French, Italian or Romansh, depending on the language region. Language learning has traditionally been considered very important in Switzerland. During compulsory schooling, all pupils usually study two foreign languages, namely a second national language and English.
Compulsory schooling lasts for 11 years and includes a primary and a secondary cycle (secondary level I) in all cantons. Attendance is compulsory and free of charge for all children, whether Swiss or foreign. The municipalities seek to ensure that all children can attend a state school in their own locality or in the nearest town or village. The schools’ directorate of each municipality, or the municipal administration if there is no schools’ directorate, can provide information on general schooling matters, such as admissions, regulations and transport. The majority of students in Switzerland complete their compulsory education at a state school in the municipality in which they live. Roughly 5% of students attend a private school.
Post-compulsory education comprises the upper secondary level and the tertiary level.
Upper secondary level: after completing their compulsory schooling, roughly two-thirds of adolescents in Switzerland move on to vocational education and training (dual-track system). This provides them with a vocational certificate and may also lead to a vocational baccalaureate. Around one-third of adolescents opt to continue their education at an upper secondary specialised school or a baccalaureate school, which prepares them for tertiary education at a university.
Tertiary level: the tertiary level comprises universities (including universities of applied sciences and teacher training universities) and, as an important alternative, institutions providing professional education and training. The latter target people with professional experience, enabling them to gain specialist education and additional qualifications.
The Swiss education system
Cultural life in Switzerland is characterised by the country’s diverse geography, multilingualism, religious pluralism and local customs. This is reflected in a vast diversity of literature, art, architecture and music. Cultural traditions are very much alive throughout Switzerland and vary from region to region and even from village to village. Religious holidays, events in the farming year and anniversaries of historical events are all occasions for festivities. When it comes to leisure, a glance at the culture programmes, the visitor guides and the sports directory will suffice to convince anyone of the wealth of recreational and cultural opportunities to be found in Switzerland.
Swiss law requires all births to be reported to the registry office in the place of birth. The declaration of birth must be made in person by the child’s legal father (either the mother’s husband or the man who has recognised the child as his own or intends to do so), by the mother, by a competent medical practitioner or by an obstetrician.
As regards marriage, persons wishing to marry must contact the competent registry office and produce the required documents (for foreign nationals: residence certificate and documents from the country of origin indicating birth, sex, name, parentage, civil status and nationality). The competent registry office is either that of the place of residence or of the place where the wedding will be held. Civil weddings are public and are conducted at the registry office in the presence of two adult witnesses. After the ceremony, the family record booklet and, if the couple so wish, the marriage certificate required for a religious ceremony are issued by the registry office. Same-sex couples have a legal status that is recognised throughout the country. A registered civil partnership gives them similar protection and obligations to those of marriage, except the right to adopt children and the right to assisted reproduction.
All deaths must be reported to the registry office in the place where they occur.
If a person dies in their own home, a doctor must be contacted immediately to certify the death. When a death is reported to the registry office, the following documents must be produced: a death certificate issued by a doctor, the identity document of the deceased and their family record booklet, individual civil status certificate or family certificate. Burial or cremation is permitted only after the death has been reported to the registry office.
Information on formalities and customary funeral practices is available from the municipal authorities.
The Swiss authorities online
The Swiss railway system has a network size of about 5 100 km and is among the densest in the world. The network is entirely electrified and is run mainly by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), the remaining lines being operated by private companies.
Swiss Federal Railways and the other Swiss transport companies offer a wide range of ticket options: standard tickets, multiple-journey tickets and rail passes. Information can be obtained on the internet or from station info points. Public transport is more expensive than in other EU/EFTA countries, but rail passes such as the Swiss Travel Pass and the Swiss Half Fare Card allow substantial savings.
There are approximately 71 500 km of roads in Switzerland. The general speed limit is 120 km/h on motorways, 100 km/h on dual carriageways, 80 km/h on main roads outside built-up areas and 30 or 50 km/h in built-up areas. There is a charge for using the motorways in Switzerland. A motorway sticker is compulsory for all motor vehicles and is charged at a flat rate of CHF 40 per year. It can be purchased from customs offices, post offices, service stations, automobile associations and railway stations. It is valid from 1 December of the year prior to the main year of validity until 31 January of the following year.
Switzerland has a very high volume of air traffic, and the country’s airports are major hubs for international airlines. There are international airports in Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Lugano and Bern.
Swiss Federal Railways
Federal Roads Office
Federal Office of Civil Aviation