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Moving to Switzerland

How to prepare for moving to Switzerland? How to apply for a visa or a work permit? What are the Swiss customs formalities, the cost of living and wages? Read all the important information to know to move to Switzerland from the UK.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

What is the Cost of Moving to Switzerland from the UK?

The price of moving to Switzerland, from an apartment of 50 m2 (20 m3), is estimated between £ 1000 and £ 3000. International moving rates depend on the distance, the mode of transport, and the services you choose, not to mention the costs for administrative and customs formalities that apply to your relocation to Switzerland. Check the table below for price estimates based on house size:

House Size20ft Shipping Container40ft Shipping Container
1-2 Bedroom Flat£900 – £1,300£1,700 – £2,255
3-5 Bedroom House£1,550 – £2,100£2,420 – £3,250

How to Organise a Cheap Move to Switzerland?

Moving to Switzerland can become expensive, especially considering the distance. The cost of living in Switzerland, moreover, is one of the most expensive in the world. So we suggest you prepare a budget for your move to Switzerland. Do not hesitate to compare the services offered and the rates when moving to Switzerland from the UK by requesting several quotes from reliable professional movers.

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Breaking Down the Cost of Emigrating to Switzerland

Several factors determine the total cost of moving to Switzerland, such as the mode of transport, the total distance of the move, and the weight of your cargo.

2. Your Shipping Type

There are three main means of transport from the UK to Switzerland:

Air Freight

Air transport is by far the fastest method because you can get your items within 1 to 3 days. However, air freight is the most expensive means because the cost is calculated based on weight.


It is possible to transport your items by road using lorries. However, if you plan on driving yourself, you can be sure of a very tiring journey. You also need to know the best and shortest routes to your destination.

You should also be aware that if you are driving between November and March, you have to be extra careful because driving in the winter can be hectic. If you do want to move by road, get yourself a reliable moving company that will help you move.

Sea Freight

Sea freight is convenient, especially if you are transporting bulky household items such as furniture or even your car. If you are transporting your goods by sea, it could take almost a week for your goods to get to the port.

Despite being slow, transporting goods by sea is cost-effective and won’t break the bank. Besides, you need to save every penny so that as you start living in a new place you have enough savings.

2. The Distance of the Move

The farther away your end destination is within Switzerland, the more expensive it is to move your goods there. However, given that Switzerland is somewhat small compared to other EU countries, the cost should not vary significantly between cities. Most removal companies will give you a final quotation based on the distance.

3. Your Cargo’s Weight

Ideally, with sea freight, one can use either a 20-foot or a 40-foot container for shipment. The 20-foot container is enough to transport goods that previously fit a three-bedroom house. If you live in a four or five-bedroom house plus a car, then the best choice is a 40-foot container.

In case you only have a few belongings, then you can have shared space with other clients who want goods transported. Consider requesting a quote for LCL or Less Than Container Load Shipping.

4. Swiss Customs Charges

When moving, British nationals have to declare their personal belongings at the Swiss customs. Your international move must take place during the opening hours of customs offices. Payment of customs taxes is made only in Swiss Francs.

4.1. Mandatory Documents for Swiss Customs

  • Proof of your change of address (employment contract or rental lease)
  • duly completed customs form
  • inventory, in duplicate, detailed and cost of all your goods (including vehicles)
  • a valid Swiss residence permit and identity document
An illustration of a remover in green dungarees in front of his truck during a move to Switzerland, giving a thumbs up with one hand, while holding a box in the other.

Step-by-Step Guide for Your Relocation to Switzerland

When moving to Switzerland, the legal formalities are many. That’s why we have compiled a step-by-step guide to all preparations and Swiss formalities when moving here:

Step 0: Compare Several Moving Quotes

A professional mover is a real advantage in taking charge of the relocation procedures. They are also the point of contact with the various administrations, to better focus on your moving. Compare several quotes from international moving companies before making your choice.

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Step 1: Register With your New Municipality

  • Register with Swiss social security
  • Open a bank account
  • Register your pet
  • Working license
  • Registration of your car in Switzerland

2. Make your Administrative Declaration

British residents of Switzerland are required to register with the municipality of their new residence. This declaration must be made no later than fourteen days after your removal or before the first day of the new employment contract. If you’re renting, Swiss house owners must declare all occupants and tenants of a dwelling.

3. Swiss Social Security

Anyone residing or working in Switzerland must be affiliated with the Swiss social protection scheme LAMal. Registration must be completed no later than three months from the date of arrival.

This plan has 3 pillars: compulsory health insurance for all, occupational retirement provision (only compulsory for employees) and individual supplementary insurance (optional).

4. Health Insurance Fund Deductible in Switzerland

For health insurance, it’s necessary to pay an annual deductible of around CHF 300 (around £ 232). This is a minimum amount per person to be paid directly before the insurance covers the costs of care. A contribution of up to 10% of the amount of care billed is also payable by the insured.

5. Open a Bank Account in Switzerland

The main feature of Swiss banks is that you cannot open an account online. You have to go in person to the bank with an ID, proof of address and your residence permit. Most Swiss banks offer banking facilities for bank accounts, whether in Swiss Francs or another currency such as the euro or pound.

5.1. Security Deposit Rule in Switzerland

You must open a bank account to deposit your security deposit which can represent up to three months’ rent! Life in Switzerland is also very regulated. Even in your own accommodation, you will not be able to do everything you want. The lease is often supplemented by an “internal regulation” which must be respected, otherwise, your lease may be cancelled.

6. Swiss Housing Application File

To constitute your application file, you will need to present the following documents:

  • a photocopy of your residence permit,
  • the completed application form,
  • an extract from the prosecution register
  • and a letter of application.

Once the accommodation is found, you will still have to comply with the formalities required to sign the lease.

7. Residence Permit in Switzerland

British citizens need a work visa to settle in Switzerland. Furthermore, it may be necessary to have your diplomas recognised to exercise certain professions or in the context of continuing your studies.

A residence permit is required to work in Switzerland or to live in the country for longer than 3 months. You can apply for a residence permit directly in the neighbourhood of your new home. If you move for work, your future employer generally takes care of these steps.

Students must apply for a residence permit according to the conditions required. This residence permit is valid and equal to the duration of their study and renewable annually.

Short-term residence permitValid 1 year / renewable
For people with a fixed-term contract of less than one year.
Type B permitValid 5 years/renewable
For people with a fixed-term contract of more than one year, a permanent contract or establishing themselves in Switzerland (on presentation of proof of employment or sufficient financial means).
Type C permitResidence permit with unlimited validity
For people staying regularly and continuously for 5 years in Switzerland.
Type G permitFor frontier workers and members of their families. The validity of the residence permit is 5 years for workers holding a CDI or CDD longer than 12 months or limited to the duration of the contract if it is less than one year.

8. Accreditation of Your Qualifications

For regulated professions such as doctors, caregivers, taxi drivers, civil engineers, teachers, etc., a recognition procedure is compulsory to have the right to practice on Swiss territory.

9. Moving to Switzerland and British Driving License

You have 12 months from your move to Switzerland to exchange your British driving license for a Swiss license. Beyond this period, you will need to retake your driving license in Switzerland. The British authorities nevertheless advise that you make a photocopy of your British document and keep it before exchanging your license.

A Couple Intriguing Facts About Switzerland

Switzerland is a good choice of expatriation for the British. The attractiveness with regular growth each year. Indeed, Switzerland is home to a large British community of 43K people established in the country.

If Switzerland is one of the most attractive destinations for expatriates, it is also because of its quality of life. and his very high wages. Furthermore, Switzerland has no less than four official languages ​​(German, British, Italian and Romansh).

Living in Switzerland

Prepare yourself, Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world! Even if very often high wages compensate for the high cost of living, it must be taken into account that daily expenses are however much more expensive than in the UK when one wishes to settle in Switzerland.

Cost of Living in Switzerland

Purchasing power is on average 20% higher than in the UK, i.e. around £37,034 in income compared to 30.35 thousand British pounds in 2019. Indeed, Switzerland is the 2nd country in Europe with the strongest purchasing power after Liechtenstein.

Working in Switzerland

With a national unemployment rate of 2.4% in 2019, Switzerland is experiencing constant dynamism and full employment, which has led many British people to move to Switzerland. In addition to enjoying very high wages, working conditions are also highly appreciated.

FAQs About Emigrating to Switzerland

How do I move to Switzerland with my pet?

Moving to Switzerland with your pets is possible on presentation of the up-to-date vaccination certificate and identification passport to be presented to customs. Your pet must have a microchip or tattoo. Dog owners must declare it to their municipality of residence and have it registered in the canine database by a veterinarian.

Why should I consider health insurance for my pet?

The keeping of certain dog breeds may be prohibited depending on the neighbourhoods. As veterinary care can be very expensive in Switzerland, it is advantageous to take out insurance for your animal.

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