Free movement of persons

A laboratory technician at work.
The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons makes it easier for Swiss and EU nationals to live and work in each other's territories. © Pixabay

The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) gives Swiss and EU citizens the right to live and work anywhere within the territories of the contracting parties. In addition to the free movement of persons, the agreement provides for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, the coordination of social security systems and the right to acquire property. 

The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) came into force on 1 June 2002 after the Swiss people had voted in favour of the AFMP and the other Bilateral I agreements in 2000.

Better residency and employment conditions

The AFMP and its additional protocols secure better residency and employment conditions for Swiss nationals in EU member states and EU citizens in Switzerland. It permits nationals of either contracting party to access the job market of the other contracting party without discrimination. However, exercising the right of free movement is subject to certain conditions. For example, a valid employment contract is required for salaried employment, while self-employed individuals must provide evidence of self-employment. Individuals who are not gainfully employed, including students or pensioners, must have comprehensive health insurance and sufficient funds so that they do not need to claim social security.

Gradual extension of the free movement of persons

The AFMP came into force on 1 June 2002. With each enlargement of the EU, the AFMP has been extended to the new EU Member States through an additional protocol.

Croatia joined the EU on 1 July 2013. The conditions for the extension of the AFMP to Croatia were negotiated in an additional protocol (Protocol III). On 1 January 2017, the AFMP was extended to Croatia.

Safeguard clause for Croatia

The Federal Council has activated the safeguard clause with effect from 1 January 2023 and extended it to 2024. Croatian nationals will now require a quota permit if they wish to take up gainful employment in Switzerland after this date. Both the short-term L permit and the B residence permit for Croatian nationals are subject to quotas from 1 January 2023.

You can find further information on the SEM-Website: FAQ – Free Movement of Persons

United Kingdom

The AFMP has ceased to apply to the UK since 31 December 2020 due to Brexit. However, British citizens living in Switzerland before that date will retain their acquired rights under the AFMP.


General information

Fact sheet: Free movement of persons  (PDF, 6 Pages, 126.5 kB)

Presentation "Free movement of persons" (PDF, 17 Pages, 524.6 kB)

Presentation "The bilateral approach" (PDF, 18 Pages, 1.6 MB, English)

Presentation The bilateral Agreements Switzerland-EU (PDF, 35 Pages, 625.6 kB, English)

List of Agreements Switzerland-EU (PDF, 28 Pages, 634.0 kB, German)

List of abbreviations European policy (PDF, 10 Pages, 660.7 kB, English)

Useful addresses and websites

European Nationals in Switzerland (PDF, 3 Pages, 30.3 kB)


Declaration of the Federal Council pertaining to non-discrimination of Croatian citizens  (PDF, 87.0 kB, English)