Emigration checklist

Are you planning to leave Switzerland and settle permanently abroad?

In the «ABC of Emigration» you will find all the information you need on the topic of emigration:

The following checklist provides an initial overview of the main steps in preparing for emigration, plus information about the associated formalities (deregistration in Switzerland and registration abroad). You can download the list as a PDF document.

Early preparation

  • Allow sufficient preparation time – obtaining all the necessary papers could take up to two years.
  • Find out as much as you can about your future country of residence. Go there at different times of year, read travel guides and consult the FDFA’s travel advice and country dossiers, attend a language course and talk to people from the country you want to live in.
  • Consult the embassy or consulate of your country of destination in order to determine which entry visas and residence permits you will need.

2 to 6 months before departure 

  • Check that your identity card or passport is valid for a sufficient number of years.
  • Find out how long you can continue using your Swiss driving licence in your country of destination.
  • Check the applicable customs regulations for personal effects, motor vehicles and pets.
  • Enquire whether there is a social insurance scheme in the country of destination. Ask your social security office how and whether you can continue to pay Swiss social insurance contributions.
  • Contact your health insurance provider. If you are not moving abroad permanently, you can suspend supplementary insurance cover instead of having to cancel it.
  • Persons liable to compulsory military service have to apply for exemption from service while abroad (or sign off from civil defence service).
  • Make sure you cancel subscriptions, licences (telephone, TV and radio connections) and contracts (rental/lease, gas and electricity, personal and property insurance, memberships, etc.) in good time.
  • Ask your doctor which vaccinations are required and/or recommended. If necessary, ask for your medical files to be handed over to you (and have any particularly important records translated).
  • Important documents such as birth certificate and marriage certificate should be translated into the official language of the country of destination, and notarised.
  • If you intend to study or work, check whether your certificates, diplomas, etc., will be recognised.
  • If you have children of school age, enquire about the local education system and register your children at the corresponding school.
  • Get information about the tax system of your destination country.

Before you leave Switzerland

  • Notify the municipal registration office and ask for confirmation of your deregistration. You will need this document in order to complete the customs formalities at the Swiss border and for securing the tax-free import of your personal effects into your country of destination.
  • Inform the competent road traffic office about your departure from Switzerland.
  • Arrange to have your mail forwarded.
  • Make sure you have all the necessary documents before your departure.
  • Keep all the necessary entry documents together and ready for presentation (passport/identification card, entry visa, confirmation of deregistration, customs inventory, etc.).

Upon arrival in your country of destination

  • Register with the local authorities. This is mandatory in almost every country, and has to be done immediately after arrival. As a rule, the local authority issues a residence and/or work permit for which a fee is charged and which you will require in your daily life, in dealings with the authorities and for personal matters.
  • Swiss citizens who have deregistered from their last commune of domicile have to register with the Swiss representation abroad (embassy or consulate) which covers their current place of residence. They must do so within 90 days of notifying their commune of domicile that they are moving abroad. This registration is free of charge and makes it possible to contact the person concerned in an emergency, facilitates administrative formalities relating to identification documents, marriage, birth and death, and helps them stay in touch with Switzerland. To register as a Swiss national living abroad, Swiss citizens must present their passport (or ID card), the deregistration certificate and (if available) the certificate of origin. In order to register, use the  online desk. Once they have successfully completed their registration, Swiss citizens abroad can vote in elections and referendums (but must register separately to do so), and receive a free subscription to the Swiss Review.