What You Need to Know About Relocate to Switzerland

Swiss cities are very clean and everything is well maintained. You can drink from any public water fountain without fearing for your health. This high standard is one of the reasons why Zurich consistently ranks in the World’s Top 3 Cities to live in. The cost of living is obviously higher in the bigger cities. Here are some estimates of what living expenses in Geneva could be like excluding rent: Single person, per month – CHF 1,144 (1,179 USD) Single person, per year- CHF 17,328 (17,864 USD) University student, per month – CHF 1,062 (1,094 USD) 4-person family, per month – CHF 5,362 (5,528 USD) 4-person family, per year – CHF 64,344 (66,336 USD) All public transport in Switzerland is free and accessible with a Swiss travel pass. Meanwhile, purchasing a Zurich Card allows free public transport throughout the city as well. Whether travelling “inter” or “intra” city, you can rely on Swiss trains to take you where you need to go. The Swiss public transport system runs like clockwork—everything arrives and departs on time. All locations, even the most remote places in Switzerland, can be reached by public transportation. How’s that for efficiency? People work from 8 to 5 and are not expected to work at night or the weekends. The same holds true for establishments such as malls and general stores. This means that except from bars, Zurich turns into a ghost town by 7pm. If that isn’t peculiar enough, establishments are only open until 4pm on Saturdays and nothing is open on Sundays! This means better work-life-balance and more time to spend with loved ones or engage in other activities such as sports. It is no wonder that the Swiss are so fit!


The Swiss are proud of being environmentally aware. In 2016, Switzerland opened the Gotthard Base Tunnel, a railway system that runs through the Alps which significantly lessened the number of trucks traveling between Italy and Switzerland. Air conditioners are not commonly used, even during the summer. The Swiss make do with fans in the sweltering heat to cut down on CFC emissions.  There are also strict regulations regarding the use of air conditioners in buildings.

Landfills in Switzerland are non-existent. The Swiss take pride in being active recyclers and have strict regulations regarding litter. Despite all these efforts, Switzerland’s air quality continues to struggle, although it has improved significantly over the last 25 years. Air pollution is responsible for most respiratory and cardiovascular disorders in the country.

Switzerland is an attractive option for the expat who likes to live well. After all, the country is known for making the best watches and chocolates. Swiss life is what most dreams are made of and if you are seriously considering moving to the “Land of Milk and Honey”, we are providing you with various tips for relocation and what to expect should you make the leap.


Moving your belongings to Switzerland should be a pretty standard affair, but you will definitely benefit from the expertise of a relocation expert who knows the ins and outs of the process. You will be needing proper documentation every step of the way, so be prepared to fill out a lot of forms. To avoid paying importation tax, please present proof that you have owned and used an item in the last 6 months.

Immigrants from EU and EFTA countries will need:

  • Application for clearance of personal property (form 18.44)
  • Inventory list
  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of employment contract or copy of residence permit
  • List of wines and spirits if included in the shipment

Immigrants from all other countries:

  • Application for clearance of personal property (form 18.44)
  • Inventory list
  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of residence permit
  • Copy of rental or purchase agreement for a house or residence
  • List of wines and spirits if included in the shipment

Importing Alcoholic Beverages

A maximum of 12 liters with an alcohol content of over 25% and 200 liters of wine with alcohol content below 25% may be imported duty-free. A separate list with precise information about the beverages is required.

Importing a Used Car

There are certain things to consider if you’re planning on bringing your UK registered vehicle to Switzerland. For one, you need to adjust to driving a Right-Hand Drive (RHD) vehicle on the other side of the road. This is not as easy as it sounds- most people end up selling their British cars and switch to a Left-Hand Drive vehicle within 6 months up to a year upon their arrival. The problem is, buying an RHD car for use in Swiss roads is unheard of and these vehicles end up being sent back to the UK to be resold.

Importing your car from outside of Europe will obviously be a challenge, to say the least. It is a very complicated and costly affair. Make sure to study your options carefully before taking the plunge. For one, American cars, even those that carry European emblems, are built differently from their European-made counterparts. Consider servicing and maintenance costs and the fact that it might be difficult to resell down the line. Studies show that expats tend to sell their non-European vehicles for 20% under the current market value. Also, American insurance will not cover your vehicle if it is driven in a foreign country. Another thing to consider is that most satellite navigation systems in a US-made vehicle will not work properly in Switzerland.

If you are still determined to bring your vehicle to Switzerland then be prepared to pay 8% Swiss VAT and 4% of the car’s current value for customs. There are also other bureaucratic obstacles to consider, all of them can be found on:

Customs Allowances

Bringing in the rest of your belongings to Switzerland should be pretty straightforward, as long as you can prove that they are for personal use and not for sale. “Sensitive” items such as medicines, plants or excessive amounts of agricultural goods are subject to restrictions.

Other items which may be subject to restrictions are:

  • Cash, foreign currencies, securities
  • Narcotics
  • Cultural property
  • Radar warning devices
  • Weapons
  • Meat and fresh produce

Relocating with Pets

Pets are part of the family and we know you would want to bring them with you, wherever you go. If they are part of your relocation plans to Switzerland, then prepare the following documents:

  • Identification (microchip)
  • Pet ID card
  • Valid certificate of vaccination
  • Valid blood test

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