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Non-Residents in Switzerland: Can You Work Remotely in Local Companies?

Switzerland is rightly considered to be one of the richest and most reliable states in Europe. Many non-residents choose this country to register a company and start their entrepreneurial activities. The Swiss Confederation has world recognition in the following spheres:

  • Finances and banking
  • Foundations and investments
  • Insurance and reinsurance
  • Education and research
  • Crypto and innovations
  • Industry and services
Work in Switzerland

Numerous small and medium enterprises in Switzerland focused on niche strategies regularly receive the highest marks in the field of innovations, which increases the country’s attractiveness as the world center. Stable economic and political conditions are yet additional factors that make the Swiss labor market even more appealing.

Switzerland has won the reputation of one of the best places on the planet in terms of safety, cleanliness, and living standards. The state also has a strong and stable economy, which makes it attractive for work and life. This makes qualified specialists from all over the world flock to the Swiss Confederation looking for a job. 

The country’s laws set a number of requirements and obligations for those planning to work in Switzerland. Therefore, we recommend studying the main nuances of employment for non-residents if you consider one of the following options:

  • relocation
  • business registration in Switzerland
  • work for a Swiss company
  • receiving a visa to live in this country
  • remote work

Contact our specialists to find out how to get a business visa to Switzerland.

Why is Switzerland So Popular with Labor Migrants?

On the whole, work abroad makes it possible to:

  • expand career opportunities
  • increase living standards
  • get to know different cultures
  • expand useful professional connections
  • improve your skills

Switzerland offers a lot of opportunities for career growth with a competitive salary. Another well-known fact is that its residents skillfully strike the work and personal life balance and enjoy a number of benefits for employees. 

If we look at the living standards, Switzerland often takes leading positions in different international ratings. For instance, Switzerland takes the first place according to the UNDP’s human development index calculated on the basis of living standards, health, and education of the country’s residents. The population of the Swiss Confederation is also considered to be one of the happiest ones in the world. A proof of that is the state’s position among the top ten in the World Happiness Report annually published by the UN.

Besides, many non-residents make a decision to relocate to this jurisdiction and work for a Swiss company as this is one of the most economically stable countries. Switzerland annually increases its GDP and has quite a stable currency rate. A very low unemployment level (2.2%), high average salary and purchasing power contribute to the financial independence of citizens. 

The country has a diversified economy with many spheres of activity, as well as a well-organized taxation system to satisfy the economic needs. Switzerland’s main visiting cards also include its banking system and reliable financial institutions that provide high-quality services.

You may be interested to read whether you should relocate to Switzerland and how friendly it is to expats.

Working for a company in Switzerland has a lot of advantages. 


High Salary

According to the American Bloomberg Businessweek, the average salary in Switzerland is almost twice as high as the average world salary level. Also, there is statistical data which testifies to the fact that Switzerland takes first place among the European countries with the highest salaries. The average net salary makes up 5,542 euros a month (after taxes). The second and third place is taken by Luxembourg (4,358 euros) and Iceland (3,528 euros), respectively.

The amount of salaries in Switzerland reflects the high living standards in the country. The jurisdiction boasts well-developed healthcare, education, and safety spheres, and also good infrastructure. Despite the fact that the population needs to spend quite a lot on accommodation, transport, food products, and different services, the salary makes it possible to put some money aside. 

Taxation System: Peculiarities

Switzerland has the reputation of a country with a favorable tax climate, and the applicable tax rate may vary. Individuals and legal entities are taxed on the federal and canton level. 

Income tax rates are progressive on the federal level and in the majority of cantons. Some cantons have recently introduced a fixed taxation rate, but taxes are not uniform in the majority of regions. The global tax rate for individuals with the salary of 150-250 thousand Swiss francs before taxes may vary from 20% to 35%. Thus, the tax rate in Switzerland is much lower than in other European countries (for example, in Germany, Finland, Austria, or Netherlands).

Read our article to find out why the Swiss passport is considered to be one of the strongest ones in the world.

Work-Life Balance

The Swiss business culture is known for the following characteristics:

  • responsibility
  • qualification
  • punctuality
  • hard work

At the same time, you will be amazed to discover how diligent the country residents are when it comes to keeping the work and life balance. That is, punctuality is welcome not only with regard to the start of the working day but also to its completion. People do not stay at the workplace for longer than needed and do not work overtime, which is an essential component in other cultures (for example, Japan or South Korea). 

According to OECD, the average working week in Switzerland is limited to 35.2 hours. The labor laws in Switzerland set the maximum number of working hours per week. The number of hours may vary in different spheres of activity and make up from 45 to 50 hours a week. 

If the employee works overtime, his or her remuneration for this time increases by at least 25%. Besides, periods of overtime may not exceed two hours a day and 140 hours (for a 45-hour working week) or 170 hours (for a 50-hour working week) a year. The exact number will depend on the weekly limitation of hours. 

All Swiss employees that live and work in the country are protected by labor laws. The main sources of labor laws in Switzerland include the Swiss Code of Obligations, Labor Law, and the conditions stipulated in the employment agreement. Also, the labor relations may be subject to the laws that regulate gender rights, data protection, etc.

Multicultural Workforce

Switzerland is an open country, so about one third of its population is made up of people of foreign origin. The advantage of companies that conduct their activities in Switzerland lies in their openness to different language and cultural communities. French, German, and Italian are the country’s official languages. English is also widespread in business circles. This multilingualism also contributes to the development of a rich and diverse business culture.

Opportunity to Participate in Global Innovative Projects

According to the Global Innovation Index, the Swiss Confederation has been considered an innovative country for over a decade. The list of top states by this indicator is regularly published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). 

Switzerland is well-known for its research centers, development of technological know-how, and qualified and productive workforce. This is the reason why the jurisdiction is always on the list of the world’s most innovative states. In addition, the country spends 3% of its GDP on research and development, which stimulates the sphere of innovations. 

The canton of Zug has long been called a “European cryptovalley” and there are a lot of crypto and fintech companies here. This territory attracts IT specialists from all over the world.

Find out how much money you need to live comfortably in Switzerland, one of the most expensive European countries.

Which Professions Are in Demand in Switzerland?

Despite its stable and thriving economy, Switzerland is a small market, and the labor market competition is quite high. However, practice shows that it is easier for specialists from other countries to find a job in large cities, such as Geneva, Bern, or Zurich.

Vacancies are mainly available in the hospitality sphere and in such areas as banking, information and financial technologies, insurance, engineering, and pharmaceutical industry. The list of largest Swiss recruiters includes different transnational companies, such as Nestle, Zurich Insurance, Coca-Cola HBC, ABB, UBS, etc. 

Can You Work for a Swiss Company Remotely?

In the times of the rapid propagation of COVID-19 pandemic, many Swiss companies transferred their employees to work from home to comply with social distancing measures. This tendency still continues, especially in such spheres as innovations and IT. Therefore, the government provided some explanations as to which legal regime to apply to non-resident employees that work remotely for a Swiss company.

Receiving a Digital Nomad Visa in Switzerland

It is important to understand that working in Switzerland requires obtaining a special visa or a work permit. Many European countries offer a digital nomad’s visa to specialists that work in the field of information technologies, but Switzerland does not have any similar programs. Non-EU citizens cannot live or work in this jurisdiction without a work permit obtained from a Swiss employer.

At the same time. Switzerland is an excellent place for digital nomads from other countries. The most popular cities for digital nomads are Zurich, Geneva, and Basel. The question of whether digital nomads need a work permit in Switzerland depends on a number of factors:

  • whether the specialist is an EU/EEA resident
  • whether the digital nomad works for a local or foreign company

Rules Applicable to the Citizens of EU/EEA and Third Countries

When asked whether a foreigner needs a remote work permit, the Swiss regulating authorities rely on the definition of hired employees

Thus, EU/EFTA citizens that remotely work for an employee based abroad are not classified as hired employees in accordance with the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP). However, if the activity of these persons or a foreign company have an impact on the Swiss economy, the employer will have to provide special documents to the regulators which give the right to invite non-residents to work. 

That is, EU or EEA citizens can work in Switzerland as digital nomads. And if the foreigners work for foreign enterprises that are not connected with the Swiss market, they should be classified as persons that do not conduct labor activity and can work remotely without the need to officially get a work permit. They can stay in the territory of the country for three months (90 days) without limitations. However, such persons should be registered with the local canton authorities to continue living in Switzerland for longer than this. 

You may be interested to find out why you should prefer Grenada to Switzerland when you decide to acquire a second citizenship.

If you are a citizen of a non-EU country, the definition of hired employees and the applicable rules will be somewhat different. According to Swiss laws, any foreigner who is not a citizen of the Swiss Confederation, EU or EEA, should apply for a work permit before getting a job in the territory of the state. This requirement is applicable even if the non-resident intends to work for a company in Switzerland on a remote basis.

Can I Work in Switzerland and Live in Another Country?

As the cost of life in Switzerland is quite high, many foreigners decide to live in neighboring European countries and regularly cross the border to work in the Confederation (such persons are called cross-border workers). 

Swiss cross-border workers usually live in Germany, France, Austria, and Italy (or another country-member of the European Union/EEA), but they work for companies based in the territory of the Swiss Confederation. They don’t need to cross the border every day: cross-border workers usually have to return at least once a week.

Are you a non-resident who wishes to work in Switzerland as a cross-border worker? You will need to get a G-Permit by submitting a relevant application to canton authorities. Swiss G-Permits are usually effective for one year and limited by the border area of the canton where they were obtained.

Mind that Confederation’s authorities provide G-type permits to the citizens of non-EU/non-EEA countries persons only if they have a residence permit in a neighboring country.

According to the effective laws, the citizens of third countries that apply for a G-Permit in Switzerland should also live in the near-border part of the neighboring state for at least six months and comply with the requirements set by the Swiss labor market. It should also be taken into account that crossing the border with Switzerland to work under G-Permit requires several mandatory Swiss insurance policies (medical insurance, work accident insurance, and others).

As for the taxation of cross-border workers, the employer usually deducts taxes from the salary paid. Switzerland is a party to double taxation treaties with more than 100 countries, which means that the Swiss tax at the source (withholding tax) is subtracted from the employee’s tax obligations in his country of residence.

The number of workers in Switzerland that have a permit to cross the border as a cross-border worker grew by 6.1% in the period from the fourth quarter of 2021 to 2022 and totaled to 380,000 persons. 

If you live in other countries or work for a Swiss company on other conditions, get a work visa that will be suitable for your situation. 

There are several options that will help you obtain a Swiss work visa:

  • The most popular of these is obtaining a short-term work permit which gives foreigners the right to live and work in Switzerland for up to 12 months. This type of visa is usually received through the employer in the Swiss Confederation.
  • Another option is a visa for transfer within the company that is effective for up to two years: it allows the employees of multinational companies to be transferred to the Swiss subsidiary. 
  • There is also a professional visa issued to highly-qualified persons with special skills or experience that are in demand in Switzerland. This visa type does not have a maximum duration and may even result in obtaining the right to permanent residence.

Read additional information on whether EU citizens can live and work in Switzerland.

However, there is still one more option: registration of a company in Switzerland or work as self-employed. Our experts will provide the required legal support in the course of business establishment in the following cantons:

  • Bern
  • Vaud
  • Zurich
  • Geneva
  • Zug
  • Lucerne

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