1. Before Arrival

Congratulations, you are about to join IDYST! | 1.1. Visa | 1.2. Work and residence permit | 1.3. Finding a flat | 1.4. Living costs in Switzerland

Congratulations, you are about to join IDYST!

Here, we have put together some information that should help you as you prepare to make the move to UNIL. First off, here are some useful links to check out for general information about moving to Lausanne and Switzerland in general.

Checklist from the UNIL welcome centre

Arriving in Switzerland


1.1. Visa

This is usually the first issue to tackle in planning to move to Switzerland as a citizen of a non-EU/EEA country. To travel to Switzerland to take up your employment, you would need a Visa D and importantly, this visa application needs to be submitted from abroad. Generally, the IDYST secretariat (usually Sabrina Damiani) would send you the necessary information to begin your visa application process. Since the process for obtaining a visa can be quite lengthy, it is recommended to consult the Swiss consular authorities in your country of domicile as soon as possible after receiving your employment offer.


1.2. Work and residence permit

For both non-EU and EU citizens, a work permit is required before taking up employment in Switzerland. You would need your work contract as well as other documents, which would be provided to you by the IDYST secretariat (usually Sabrina Damiani) in order to obtain a residence permit.

Generally, a residence/work permit would usually only be obtained after arrival in Switzerland. The application for this is usually made at the commune of residence in Switzerland. The documents required for this usually include:

  • Employment contract
  • Rental contract or attestation from landlord in Switzerland
  • Valid identity document (i.e. Passport)
  • Passport photographs.
  • Marriage certificate in English, French, German or Italian (if you are married)

The complete/accurate list of required documents can be obtained from the commune of residence in Switzerland. Also, remember that an application fee is usually charged.


1.3. Finding a flat

Most apartments in Switzerland are administered by housing agencies (also known as régie or gérance). To apply for an apartment from one, some documents are usually requested (list below) which you may not yet have as a new resident in Switzerland. As such, it may be better to look for room/apartment sublets or shared apartments (collocations) in the beginning. After settling a bit more in Switzerland, you can then set about finding your desired long-term accommodation. Alternatively, you may ask your professor to circulate an email on your behalf to see if any member of the institute has or knows of a free accommodation. As it might be tricky to find suitable accommodation in Switzerland, it is best to begin the search process as early as possible before your planned arrival.

For shared apartments, here are some useful pages to check out:
Shared Apartments
Facebook Groups

If you are searching for your own apartment, these links should be helpful:


The following are the documents required when applying for a flat


  • Completed application form (from housing agency)
  • Copy of residence permit
  • Current record of debt collection
  • Attestation of employment OR Employment contract OR Last 3 salary payment slips. The attestation of employment can be obtained from the IDYST secretariat.


  • Personal application letter: you can increase your chances by succinctly describing in your letter why you like this flat and why you would be the ideal tenant.
  • Taking out home content and personal liability insurance are sometimes required by landlords and the latter is in any case recommended.
  • Recommendation letter (in French) written by a Swiss person.

You may also check the website of the welcome center of the UNIL which contains information about accommodation, among other things. In addition, the welcome center can provide a weekly updated list of available accommodation for rent to new employees by email. However, you need to contact them (by email: welcomecentre@unil.ch) to request and obtain this list.

Also, asking friends and colleagues at UNIL is a good way to find accommodation.

If you encounter any communication problem with landlords or agencies (as some would essentially speak French), do not hesitate to ask Sabrina Damiani for some help (phone calls to landlords or agencies for  instance).


1.4. Living costs in Switzerland

Generally, the cost of living in Switzerland is high. However, the ultimate living cost of an individual will generally depend on living habits and preferences. Below is an indicative student budget.