Residence permit

Several documents can attest your right to stay or live in Switzerland. Which one fits your situation?

If you are from a European country (EU/EFTA), you can stay in Switzerland for 3 months as a tourist, after this time you will need to obtain a residence permit. This will allow you access to employment and family reunification.

If you are from another country, a non-member state, then you will need a VISA to enter Switzerland. This will be issued by the embassy or the consulate in your country of origin. Please note, there are very few authorisations of extended stays to persons of non-member states.

The different types of permits

The residence permit that you will receive depends mainly on your country of origin (EU/EFTA or non-member state), the reason for your entry into the country, and the conditions behind your entry (for example, the duration of your work contract, permits and nationality of your partner in the case of marriage, or family reunification).

In Switzerland, there are six different residence permits: L, B, C, N, F and G.

Category
Details
L

short-term residence permit (less than 1 year, renewable)

B

long-term residence permit (1 year or 5 years, renewable)

C

established residence (5 years, renewable)

N

temporary residence while applying for asylum (3 to 6 months, renewable)

F

provisional permit (1 year, renewable)

G

work permit for persons who cross the border (for the duration of the work contract, or 5 years if the contract is indefinite)

 

If you are coming to live in a Vaud commune for work, family reunification or studies, you can apply for an L or B permit by addressing the Habitants Registration office in the commune where you are living.

If you are a citizen of a non-member state, already in possession of a permit B, you have the possibility of applying for an advance C permit from the commune you are living in. For this, you must have a regular and uninterrupted stay of five years in Switzerland and be integrated into your commune. This is demonstrated by:

  • Respecting the laws and the values of the Federal Constitution
     

  • Mastering the national language of the commune you are residing in to an A2 level (knowledge of another national language may also be taken into account in certain cases)
     

  • Showing willingness to participate in the economic life and receive any necessary training

Support and advice

The CSP fraternity can offer you advice on any issues relating to permits and provide legal support in case of a disagreement with a cantonal or federal decision.

Asylum seekers (N permit) and provisional permits (F permit) are accommodated and assisted by the Vaud Immigrant Reception Establishment (EVAM).

People who have been granted asylum, and thus refugee status, are supported by the Social Integration Centre for Refugees (CSIR).

There are other working associations specialised in asylum that can also offer advice and support, contact: the Service of Legal Aid to the Exiles (SAJE) of the Protestant Mutual Aid (HEKS), as well as the Swiss Refugee Council (SRC).

Civil status and naturalisation

For all events related to civil status (for example, marriage preparation or changing of name), you must contact the administration centre of civil status. On this website, you can also order civil status certificates/documentation, which will be sent to you by post. If you are a foreigner, do not forget to announce any changes to your consulate or embassy of your country of origin.

After many years living in the canton of Vaud, some persons of foreign nationality wish to mark their attachment to Switzerland by obtaining Swiss nationality, the country where they are building their life, this procedure is known as naturalisation. More information is available at the commune you are living in or from the Service of the Population, naturalisation sector.
Some associations offer courses on the naturalisation process. Find the list of activities in the section "Leisure & citizenship".