From 01 January 2021, EU rules no longer apply to UK nationals with regard to living and working in Switzerland. But what does that actually mean? In this FAQ, we take a look at the most important questions for UK Nationals:
Switzerland is not part of the EU – so why should EU laws apply?
Switzerland is not a member state of the EU but it is associated with the EU through a series of bilateral treaties. This means Switzerland has adopted many of the provisions of European Union law in order to participate in the Union’s single market, without joining as a full member state.
What is the Swiss-UK Citizens’ Rights Agreement?
The agreement protects the rights of UK and Swiss nationals who have chosen to call each other’s countries home. This refers to 14’000 Swiss nationals already living in the UK and 40’000 UK nationals already living in Switzerland, as well as around 2’600 UK frontier workers already in Switzerland before 1 January 2021. This agreement broadly mirrors the citizens’ rights part of the EU withdrawal agreement.
Will I need a visa to enter Switzerland as a UK citizen?
UK citizens will still be exempt from visa requirements for the Schengen Area including Switzerland for short stays up to 90 days even after 31 December 2020.
If I have obtained a permit by 31 December 2020, do I need to do anything?
If you are a UK citizen already residing in Switzerland and in possession of a short-stay, residence or cross-border commuter permit, or you have obtained permanent residence on or before 31 December 2020 you may be requested to exchange your current permit for a biometric one, but this will not affect your right to remain in Switzerland.
My pre-2021 permit is about to expire, what do I do?
You simply have to apply for a new permit prior to the expiry date of your current permit. As long as you do not leave Switzerland you will continue to be treated in the same way as you were before 2021.
I would like to move to Switzerland in 2021 to work – is that possible?
From 1 January 2021 UK citizens will be treated like all other non-EU/EFTA citizens with regard to relocating to Switzerland, unless an additional bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the UK is concluded.
In addition, from 1 January 2021, the Swiss Federal Council has created separate quotas for UK Nationals which will be distributed quarterly to cantonal authorities:
- 3’500 overall for 2021 annually, comprising
- 2’100 B-permits
- 1’400 L-Permits
Note: these quotas are considered consistent with the historic numbers of UK nationals. You will need to submit an application to the Swiss migration authorities, which will require approval before taking up residency and work in Switzerland.
In order for a Swiss based employer to hire a UK national they will need to prove that no suitable EU or Swiss national could be found for that role after a reasonable search effort. This would require a four-week recruitment period to take place. This subject is still under review however and the Swiss Authorities have indicated that they may consider waiving this in the near future.
Can I still make use of the online notification procedure for up to 90 days within a calendar year after the transition period?
On 4 December 2020, an agreement was approved between Switzerland and the UK on the mobility of service suppliers. The agreement is currently restricted to two years but may be extended. This means that with some restrictions, companies located in the UK may still send their employees to Switzerland to provide services for up to 90 days per calendar year using the online notification procedure. However Swiss employers can no longer make use of this mechanism for UK citizens.
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