2. At arrival/first days

2.1. Local municipal authority registration | 2.2. Bank account | 2.3. Taxes | 2.4. Getting a swiss mobile phone | 2.5. Transportation | 2.6. Insurance | 2.7. Buying household items and furniture

2.1. Local municipal authority registration

Upon arrival in Switzerland, it is obligatory to register with the local municipal authority within 14 days of arrival. Most municipal authorities require registration in person. The responsible body is the residents' registration office. The following documents are required for registration at the municipality:

  • A valid official identification document.
  • A passport photo
  • Documents regarding your family status (family register, marriage certificate, etc.).
  • Your contract of employment
  • Proof of accommodation in Switzerland


2.2. Bank account

It is important to open a bank account as soon as possible after arriving in Switzerland for your salary to be paid as the university does not pay salaries to non-Swiss bank accounts. Generally, in Switzerland, it is not possible to open a bank account for the first time over the internet. Therefore, it may be necessary to make an appointment with the bank of your choice. Documents to take along to an appointment include:

  • An official identity document.
  • Residence permit or proof of submitted application for one.
  • Employment contract

If you are from a country outside of the EU/EEA, it is likely that you do not have a residence permit already in the first few weeks of your arrival. Therefore, be sure to have an attestation that you have applied for your residence permit OR a copy of the application OR copy of the completed arrival form from the commune (annonce d’arrivée), which will serve as a substitute pending the receipt of the official residence permit. However, this option is only available in some banks, for example: UBS and Migros bank.


2.3. Taxes

All foreign workers who do not have a C residence permit have the taxes payable to the federal state, canton and municipality deducted at source from their salary. Taxes payable will vary depending on your civil status and whether you have children or not. Therefore, be sure to communicate any changes in your family situation to the IDYST secretariat as soon as possible.


2.4. Getting a swiss mobile phone

A swiss mobile phone number is usually important for the paperwork associated with moving to Switzerland such as opening a bank account and applying for accommodation. Although most people usually take out a phone contract, it is possible to obtain one without a contract. This is possible from companies such as Lebara, M-budget and Lycamobile. Prepaid mobile sim cards can usually be purchased at the post office or in kiosks.


2.5. Transportation

Most parts of Switzerland are very well connected by public transportation (train, bus, boat). Unless you live within walking distance from work, it is advisable to purchase a monthly public transportation card (abonnement). In addition, if you plan to visit places outside of your usual commute, it is advisable to purchase the yearly half-fare card. This way, you only pay 50% of the ticket price to those destinations. UNIL can reimburse the price of your half-fare card. The reimbursement for this is not made upon arrival but will be made once the amount of the subscription for a half-fare card has been met. For this, please send an e-mail to Carole Schrocker (carole.schrocker@unil.ch). More information is available in the links below:

Half fare or GA Swisspass

Lausanne public transportation

Other interesting deals for train tickets are the day passes that you can buy for about 40 CHF at your municipality (exact price depends on the municipality you are registered at, search for “carte jounalière <municipality name>”) or the super saver tickets that you can find on the SBB mobile app or the SBB website.

Cars can be rented in multiple car rental offices in Lausanne, but you can also use the ‘Mobility cars’ of the train companies.

Cycling to work can also be an option (but do note that Lausanne is very hilly). You can have a look on Facebook Marketplace or on other second hand websites. You can have your bike repaired for free at the ‘Atelier vélo’ located right next to Géopolis. If you don’t want to buy a bike, you can rent the pink PubliBikes that are spread all over the campus (50 CHF per year).


2.6. Insurance

Taking out the necessary insurances is very important in Switzerland. Apart from the health insurance, which is mandatory and must be taken out within the first 3 months of arriving in Switzerland, there are other insurance covers which are necessary in Switzerland and canton Vaud. These include:

  • ECA insurance: a mandatory fire and natural hazards insurance in the canton of Vaud. After renting an apartment, you would usually receive a letter from the canton to this effect.
  • Personal liability and household content insurance. This is necessary for renting an apartment.

In addition, it is mandatory in Switzerland to pay TV/radio tax. This is usually billed annually and residents are sent a bill directly from the company in charge (SERAFE).


2.7. Buying household items and furniture

Although things are considered to be generally expensive in Switzerland, they do not necessarily have to be if you are flexible with buying non brand-new items. Inexpensive household items, electronics, furniture etc. can be purchased on various online platforms as well as physical stores. Be sure to ask your swiss counterparts for the tips on where to get the good deals. Some examples include:

  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Anibis.ch
  • Gloryland store (close to the Geopolis)