Non-staff members IO and interns PM - tax and social legislations

Swiss tax and social legislation concerning non-staff members (consultants, interns or volunteers) of the international organisations (IO) and interns of the permanent missions (PM) holding a type « H » FDFA legitimation card  

In principle, non-staff members of the IO receive a FDFA legitimation card of type « H » (cf. Guidelines regarding the issuance of FDFA legitimation cards, see link below).

In principle, interns of the PM receive a FDFA legitimation card of type « H » (cf. Guidelines regarding the issuance of FDFA legitimation cards, see link below).

These persons do not enjoy privileges and immunities and remain subject to Swiss law. The same applies to Swiss citizens or holders of a B, C or Ci permit working as non-staff members (IO) or interns (PM) (who do not receive a legitimation card). 

They must take the following steps as soon as they begin working. 

All contact addresses and links to the relevant documents are provided at the end of this information note.

1. Income and wealth tax at federal, cantonal and communal level

The person in question must write to the tax authorities of their canton of residence to request to be recorded on the tax roll (enclosing a copy of their legitimation card). They will then receive a tax return form each year, and the tax authorities will send them their tax assessment. 

If they live in France (or Germany or Austria), they must contact the cantonal tax authorities of their place of work.

2. Social insurance (AHV/AVS)

The person must contact the AHV/AVS cantonal compensation office of their place of residence; some cantonal compensation offices provide an application form on their website. 

The cantonal compensation office will classify them as an employee of an employer not subject to mandatory contributions. The cantonal compensation office will calculate their social insurance contributions on the total income received (salary or other payments) and will invoice them directly for their social insurance contributions. 

If the person does not have an insurance certificate, they should request one from the cantonal compensation office (see link below). 

If they live in France (or Germany or Austria), they must contact the AHV/AVS cantonal compensation office of their place of work.

Situation for interns, non-earning persons, holders of an 'H' FDFA legitimation card (IO and PM):

  • Persons who are not resident in Switzerland are not subject to the AHV/AVS insurance system.  According to Federal Social Insurance Office directives (link below), persons who are coming to Switzerland who do not engage in remunerated activity but are there for the sole purposes of visiting, receiving treatment, spending holidays, studying or undertaking vocational education are not resident in Switzerland.

  • Non-earning interns coming from abroad to undertake an internship in Switzerland are therefore not subject to the AHV/AVS system. They must however report to the cantonal compensation office, which may make a formal decision on their exemption.

  • However, persons who were resident in Switzerland before being employed as interns continue to be subject to the AHV/AVS system and must report to the cantonal compensation office even if they are not paid. This applies in particular to Swiss nationals and holders of 'B', 'C' or 'Ci' permits.

3. Health and accident insurance

See also the information note on health insurance (see link below). 

As is compulsory for all residents of Switzerland, the person must take out health insurance with a recognised Swiss health insurance provider (including accident cover) within three months of taking up residence. 

If they live in France (or Germany or Austria), they are considered a cross-border commuter. In this case, their situation will depend on their nationality: 

  • European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) (or Swiss) citizens may choose between health insurance in Switzerland or their country of residence; however, they must give notice of their choice to the cantonal health insurance office responsible for their place of work (see link below).

  • Citizens of other countries may obtain insurance from a Swiss health insurer upon request. They are strongly advised to have health and accident insurance (under a Swiss or foreign healthcare plan) to cover medical and hospital expenses in Switzerland. 

Application for exemption: 

  • Interns (IO and PM): under Article 2 paragraph 4 of the Ordinance on Health Insurance (see link below), persons living in Switzerland for the purpose of training may be exempted from compulsory health insurance. However, they must have equivalent insurance cover for treatment in Switzerland. They must submit a written application for exemption to the cantonal health insurance office of their place of residence (see link below). This must be accompanied by a written attestation from the foreign health insurer providing all the necessary information (concerning the cover offered for treatment in Switzerland) and an equivalence form completed by the insurer (see link below).

4. Competent authorities