Arriving in Switzerland


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Arriving in Switzerland

Welcome to Switzerland and the Canton of Vaud. Relocating to a new country is no small event, it demands some planning and anticipation. On these pages, we have put together some useful information that is thought to help you find your bearings and sort out the necessary administrative steps in order to get settled. Welcome!

Here is a very useful brochure and website.

Check-list and tips for moving to Switzerland.



Foreign nationals, who take up residence in Switzerland must register within 8 days of their arrival at the Residents' Registration Office ("contrôle des habitants") of the municipality in which they will be living. Please note that there is a fee for registration and for the establishment of the residence permit. The sooner you register, the better it is. For example, you need to be registered before opening a bank account.

You can find a list of municipalities here. 

Nationals of EU/EFTA  countries need a valid passport or ID card to register and a birth certificate. Nationals of non-EU/EFTA countries need a valid passport, visa authorisation or a confirmation of a residence permit to register as well as a birth certificate. Ask the registration office of your municipality for more details about what documents must be shown for registration. If you are married, you have to bring your marriage certificate translated into French, German, Italian or English. 

Health and accident insurance

Health insurance (assurance maladie) is obligatory in Switzerland. This applies for all family members planning to live in Switzerland. The swiss health insurance system guarantees access to a range of quality medical care services and appropriate medical treatment. Please note that the insurance charges are not directly deducted from your salary but are paid separately. 

All employees having a contract with UNIL are covered for professional and non-professional accidents. Visiting researchers must take out a health and accident insurance.

There are many insurance companies to chose from, who are obliged to accept all persons subject to the obligation to insure themselves, regardless of their age and state of health, without reservation or delay.

Here is a document providing the basic information about Swiss health insurance (in English).

In order to make a comparison of health insurance providers, you may check priminfo (issued by the Federal Office of Public Health, available in French, German or Italian) or comparis website.


Liability insurance

A liability insurance covers any damage caused by you, or any of your family members, to a third party. This insurance covers both property and personal damage but not including driving related accidents.

The liability insurance is not yet obligatory in Switzerland. However, it is highly recommended and some landlords want proof of insurance before accepting a tenant. Also, many nurseries also want proof of a liability insurance (in case your child causes dammage, to property or to a person).

The liability insurance is sometimes bundled with the household insurance. The price comparison website can help you make a first calculation and find the best prices.



Household insurance

A household insurance covers everything that you have in your home (content) in the event of fire, water damages, glass breakage or theft. Household insurance is not obligatory but highly recommended. Get help estimate prices and compare different insurance companies on


Fire insurance

The ECA insurance is an obligatory insurance in the Vaud Canton that covers damage from fire and natural disasters. Download the form (in French). Website for more information (in French).


Car insurance

Although the liability insurance described above is not obligatory in general, it becomes obligatory if you want to buy a car or a motorcycle. This insurance thus covers any damage that you may cause to others while driving (both property and personal damage). However, this insurance does not cover damage to your own vehicle. If you wish to have a partial or full insurance for any damage to your own car or motorcycle the website offers a comprehensible price comparison and overview. The Swiss Touring Club (TCS) has more information on their website (in French and in German).


Bank account and payroll taxes

You will need to open an account, either at a Bank or Post Office, on which your salary will be paid directly by the employer. Once you have an account, do not forget to communicate your bank information to the HR department so that they know where to send your pay check.

Switzerland is famous for its banks so there is an abundant selection of banks. There is a BCV (Banque Cantonale Vaudoise) branch on campus, in the Internef building. The nearest Post office is at the shopping centre by EPFL, a couple of stops with the metro M1 to EPFL (right next to the metro platform).

Non-Swiss citizens are submitted to compulsory insurance and taxes deducted directly from their salaries ("impôt à la source"). The insurance contributions are:

  • Pension and disability insurance (including an income replacement scheme AVS/AI/APG=L'assurance-vieillesse et survivants/Assurance-Invalidité/Assurance Perte de Gain)
  • Occupational pension plan (LPP=Loi sur la Prévoyance Professionnelle)
  • Unemployment insurance (AC=Assurance Chômage)
  • Professional accident insurance (LAA=L'Assurance Accidents), this insurance is mandatory if you work more than 8 hours per week. If this is the case, you will not need an accident insurance as part of your health insurance.



Use this website to get an idea of your monthly budget for living in Switzerland (available in French or German). Here you can download pdf examples of a typical budget depending on your family situation and income.

Quick translation:

revenus = income

famille avec un/deux/trois enfants = family with one/two/three children

personnes seules avec un/deux/trois enfants = one parent with one/two/three children

personnes seules = one person

French/English translator:


Ch√Ęteau de Dorigny  -  CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 20 20
Fax +41 21 692 20 05