Planning to go abroad? The FDFA provides a range of useful information on travelling abroad, learning languages and studying abroad, working as an au pair, and trainee programmes.
Temporary stay abroad
The FDFA publishes travel advice for most countries around the world. If a country's security situation has been affected, the travel advice section will be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis.
You and your family can enter the dates of your holidays, visits or business trips abroad (short stays) in the Travel Admin app. This information makes it easier for the FDFA to find and contact you if there is an emergency where you are. If you want to settle abroad, please contact the Swiss representation responsible for your destination country.
The Swiss government may under its provisions for assist natural persons and legal entities abroad if they cannot reasonably or are not in a position to safeguard their interests on their own or with the help of third parties (Art. 42, SAA).
- Accident and sickness insurance including repatriation by ambulance or plane
- Accident and breakdown cover for vehicles
- Legal expenses insurance for vehicles and persons
- Luggage and theft insurance
Do not leave Switzerland without the right insurance cover. The most important ones are:
If you are planning a short trip abroad, you do not have to deregister from your residents' registration office in Switzerland. This is because your primary and usual place of residence is still Switzerland. As a general rule, you only have to deregister from your commune of residence if you go abroad for more than three months, give up your accommodation, and have no intention of coming back to Switzerland in the near future. If you do not give up your place of residence and continue to return to Switzerland once in a while, find out what you need to do in advance from your residents' registration office. Cantonal residents' register offices often have different reporting requirements.
If you are planning a short trip abroad, you do not have to register with the Swiss embassy or consulate responsible for your destination country. You only have to do this if you have moved abroad and have deregistered from your last commune of residence in Switzerland. Once you have deregistered in Switzerland, you have 90 days to register with the Swiss representation responsible for your destination country. You do not need to pay a fee for this, but it means you can be contacted more easily if there is an emergency. You also need to be registered if you want to use any of the consular services like registering a marriage, birth or death.
You must follow the local regulations on entry, residence and reporting in your destination country. For questions about entry and residence, please contact your travel agent or the foreign representation of your destination country. The local police authorities are usually in charge of reporting requirements.
Further studies and language learning abroad
In the sections below you can access information, resources and relevant contact details for exchanges, studying abroad, scholarships, working as an au pair, and secondments. Useful information on entry requirements, insurance and tax is also available.
The Swiss government supports exchange and mobility for extracurricular activities at all levels of the education system (compulsory schooling, vocational education and training, higher or continuing education).
Movetia, which is supported at federal and cantonal level, has a range of national and Europe-wide offers in this field as well as several options in non-European countries.
The Swiss government also promotes higher education mobility by helping students access the Erasmus+ programme, the EU's main instrument for implementing its common education policy.
Members of Intermundo, the Swiss umbrella organisation for youth exchange, provide support in particular to upper-secondary level pupils (in general education or vocational training) who would like to spend a few months abroad for language studies or other intercultural activities.
If you are a student looking to go abroad to do part or all of your university studies, you can get details about what opportunities and scholarships are available from a number of places, including swissuniversities. If you would like to do other further related studies, talk to the person in charge of international mobility at your university or university of applied sciences about which study course or university to join.
In Switzerland, the cantons are usually in charge of the public grants system. Allowances are either awarded as scholarships or loans. The Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education provides basic information on grants and student financing and, alternatively, details of private foundations and funds that you can also approach. If you are a doctoral student enrolled in Switzerland, you can also apply to the Swiss National Science Foundation for short-term research scholarships abroad. Swissuniversities is officially in charge of managing government scholarships from around 40 countries.
If you want to work abroad as an au pair, Switzerland will still usually remain your place of residence. Notify the residents' registration office in your commune of residence of your planned departure before you actually leave. The registration rules you will need to follow depend on the right of residence in your canton of residence. If you are planning to work abroad as an au pair for more than six months, please contact your residents' registration office as soon as possible. You should also find out about employment conditions and other regulations in your destination country from the local authorities.
Note concerning the UK: since 1 January 2021, a new points-based immigration system has been in effect in the UK. Au pairs are permitted to work in the UK under certain conditions: if they were already residing in the country before 31 December 2020, if they have 'pre-settled' or 'settled' status, or if they meet the requirements of the new immigration system. For further information, please refer to the official UK government website.
Ask for a written employment contract. A lot of countries require this before you can register locally or get a visa.
Switzerland has trainee exchange agreements with a number of countries so that young people can develop their professional and language skills abroad. These agreements make it easier to get the entry, residence and work permits you need regardless of the job market situation.
Once you have found an employer, you have to apply for a residence and work permit for trainees (trainee exchange). Make sure that foreign employers know about these trainee exchange agreements and that you can arrange a visa yourself. You can find everything you need to know on the website of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).
An employee is on secondment if they are sent by their employer to work in another country for a limited period of time. If you are seconded, all social security provisions in your sending country continue to apply during this time. For practical information on secondments and the required forms, please visit the website of the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO).
What else do I have to do?
If you are planning to spend a short time at a language school or do an exchange semester at a university, you do not usually have to change your main place of residence during that time. This is standard practice around the world. During this time, Switzerland will remain your usual place of residence and you will continue to be subject to the registration requirements in your canton. You should therefore contact your residents' registration office well in advance of your departure. This is particularly important if you want to stay abroad for a longer period of time and keep your Swiss residence at the same time. If you have decided to leave Switzerland and settle abroad however, you must deregister from your commune of residence and then register again with the Swiss representation that has consular jurisdiction for your destination country.
If you are a student and do not have a paid job, and you keep your Swiss residence whilst studying abroad, you will continue to be covered by the compulsory social security system in Switzerland. Please contact the OASI compensation office at your place of residence. This is where you have to pay the minimum annual OASI/IV/EO contribution until you turn 25. After that, the amount you contribute will depend on your financial circumstances. If you are a student and do not have a paid job, and you are resident in the country where you are studying, you can also continue to be covered until you turn 25 if the conditions are met. You will have to pay the minimum annual contribution to the Swiss Compensation Office. This is only possible until you turn 25; after that, the amount you contribute will depend on your financial circumstances. You can find out more about social security for Swiss people abroad on the website of the FSIO.
If you are a student at a university or language school and do not have a paid job, and you keep your Swiss residence whilst studying abroad, you will continue to be covered by the Federal Health Insurance Act (LAMal). Please contact your health and accident insurance company to find out what cover you need during your studies abroad. Make sure you ask about what proof of insurance cover you will need to organise your studies in your destination country. If you are studying in an EU/EFTA country on a short-term basis only and have kept your Swiss residence, take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you – this is printed on the reverse side of your Swiss health insurance card. This will allow you to receive medical treatment in your destination country and the costs will be reimbursed by your health insurance company in Switzerland. The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) can provide you with more detailed information.
If you need information on Swiss tax law, contact the tax authorities in your canton or commune, or talk to your tax adviser. The government office in charge of taxation matters is the Federal Tax Administration. If you have questions about international tax law in terms of double taxation agreements, contact the Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF).