Residence permits

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

The various residence permits

B Autorisation de séjour

Third- country national
Duration of one year, possibly renewed for 2 years.

European national (EU, EFTA)
Duration longer than one year, renewable for 5 years. The possibility of working depends on the person’s situation.

C Settlement permit

The settlement permit no longer depends on the reason for presence in Switzerland. The permit (document) is renewed every 5 years. In general, the C permit is only granted to persons holding a B permit, after 5 or 10 years depending on the situation. Allows gainful activity.

F Provisional admission

Granted to people who have not formally obtained asylum, but who can legally stay in Switzerland. Possibility of working in the same way as a B or C permit holder or a Swiss national.

In the event of successful integration (economic autonomy and absence of conviction, in particular) the F permit can be transformed into a B permit.

G Cross-border commuter permit

For people who work in Switzerland but do not have their main residence there.

L Short-term residence permit

Third-country national
Duration up to one year, possibly renewed once for one year.

European national (EU, EFTA)
Renewable for the duration of the first stay (less than one year). The possibility of working depends on the person’s situation.

N Permit for asylum seekers

As soon as the holder leaves the Federal Asylum Centre and is attached to the Canton by the Confederation, they have the right to take up employment.

Permit renewal

When the permit expires, the federal authorities send a “Notice of end of validity” to your municipality of residence or to you directly. You must then submit a renewal application to your commune of residence, which will forward it to the competent cantonal service (Service de la Population, SPOP). Your situation and your degree of integration are examined, in particular your financial autonomy.

It may happen that the new permit is not immediately issued, because the volumes of applications to be processed are very large. In this case, the cantonal migration authorities will of course not question your stay until the application has been processed. If you are travelling abroad, you must first apply at the counter of the Service de la Population for a “return visa” in order to be able to return to Switzerland in the absence of the new permit.

Transformation of B permit into C permit

The settlement permit (C permit) offers a more stable status than the residence permit (B permit). After a period of 5 to 10 years, depending on the nationality and the reason for the stay, it is possible for a B-permit holder person to apply for a C permit.

Apart from nationals of certain countries* which have specific agreements with Switzerland, it is necessary to have a language level certificate to obtain a C permit.

*Germany, Austria, Belgium, Danemark, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, Netherlands and Portugal. 

People without residence permit

Swiss legislation provides under certain conditions the possibility for a person living in Switzerland without a residence permit to be regularised if their integration is successful and if the duration of their stay is significant and sufficiently proven. In concrete terms, the application is sent to the Canton (Service de la Population - SPOP), which decides whether to forward it to the federal authorities. The regularisation is only effective once approved by the Confederation.

Cases in which the residence or establishment permit may end, be revoked or not renewed

  • Offence or crime resulting in a conviction accompanied by a decision of criminal expulsion.
  • Under certain conditions, in the event of the end of the marital union with the person with whom the family reunification was carried out.
  • Received a significant amount of social assistance.
  • At the end of a course (completed or interrupted), the temporary residence permit for studies is not renewed.
  • As soon as the departure from Switzerland is announced or after a stay outside Switzerland of more than 6 months without the prior agreement of the authorities.

More information

Steps to follow for a residence permit

More information

Political rights

More information

Becoming Swiss: naturalisation

More information

Do you have specific questions?

Your privileged contacts

The Fraternity of the Centre Social Protestant (CSP) and the Habitants Registration office of your municipality are at your disposal to help you with administrative procedures.

“Welcome” brochure

To facilitate the settling of the newcomers in the canton, the brochure “Welcome to the canton of Vaud” (available in 13 languages) contains the practical information you need.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Listed on one page, you can access the most frequently asked questions on various topics.

Find out more

Administration's website

It contains the useful information on integration and prevention of racism matters in the canton of Vaud. The site is dedicated to migrants, Swiss citizens as well as to professionals in these fields.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Published four times a year, the newsletter “IntégrAction” presents various news of the BCI and its regional offices (projects, activities, publications, etc.).

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