Can I retire to Switzerland?
Peaceful landscapes, good amenities, excellent medical facilities and a great base for travelling around Europe: for many people, Switzerland seems like the ideal place to retire. So is this an option for foreigners? As always, the answer depends on your specific circumstances.
I’ve spent my career in Switzerland
If you have lived and worked in Switzerland for a while, chances are you have a settlement (C) permit, or at least the right to obtain one. This kind of permit is permanent and not subject to any particular conditions, so you are perfectly entitled to stay in the country after you retire.
If, however, you moved to Switzerland late in your career and haven’t accumulated the ten years required to gain settled status, or if you hold a legitimation card rather than a permit, you have two options:
1. Request a C permit early – after five years of residency – before you retire. To do this, you will need to prove that you are exceptionally well integrated; or
2. Request a B permit without authorisation to work when you retire, as described below for newcomers.
I don’t currently live in Switzerland
Article 28 of the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA) sets out three criteria that you have to meet if you want to retire in Switzerland:
1. You must be 55 or over (no exceptions are made to this rule);
2. You must have close personal ties to Switzerland:
– Personal ties may include having Swiss heritage or having spent significant amounts of time in Switzerland, whether for study, work, or even repeated holidays;
– Conversely, purely economic links do not fulfil this criteria;
– If your parents, children, grandchildren or siblings live in Switzerland and you have maintained a close relationship with them, this will go some way towards proving that you have close personal ties but may not be sufficient on its own unless you also have some more direct links to the country.
Our top tip: Note that if you want to retire in Switzerland solely because you have close family here, you may be able to do so via family reunification.
3. You must have sufficient financial resources:
– This means being able to more or less guarantee that you can support yourself throughout your retirement without turning to state aid;
– Both your existing wealth and any fixed income (e.g. pensions) that you are guaranteed to receive are taken into account. However, financial support from family members is not taken into account since it may not always be available if their circumstances change.
Our top tip: You will need to have enough to cover your accommodation costs (including rental charges if applicable), health insurance premiums, any medical expenses not covered by insurance, and living costs of around 1000 CHF for a single person or 1500 CHF for a couple. If you are intending to live with family members, your living costs will likely be slightly lower – see the right-hand column of this table for estimates of living costs per person depending on the size of the household.
If your application is successful, you will be granted a B permit without authorisation to work (known as a “rentier” permit). With that in mind, you will need to formally declare that you have no intention to work.