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Complete guide to obtaining a Switzerland retirement visa, the required documents, and the best places for retirees

A safe and quiet life is everything you need for your retirement, and Switzerland offers the perfect life quality needed for every retiree. Located in Central Europe, Switzerland is home to numerous lakes, villages, beautiful Alps, cheese, and delicious chocolates, surrounded by magnificent landscapes everywhere you go.

Non-Swiss citizens can apply for a Switzerland Retirement Visa once they prove they have  enough money so that they do not become dependent on the Swiss social security benefits.

A Switzerland Retirement Visa is a type of residence permit that is issued to pensioners if they meet certain criteria depending on their nationality.

Who Is Eligible For a Retirement Visa in Switzerland?

The criteria for a Switzerland Retirement Visa are different for non-EU and EU citizens.

Non-EU citizens must meet the following criteria to be eligible for a Switzerland Retirement Visa:

  • You must be over the age of 55.
  • You must be able to support yourself financially.
  • You must live in Switzerland for most of the year.
  • You must have proof of a personal link to Switzerland (Swiss origin, spending a relatively long time in Switzerland, owning real estate, etc.).

EU citizens must meet the following conditions to be eligible for a Switzerland Retirement Visa:

  • You must have sufficient financial means to support yourself.
  • You must have adequate health and insurance in case of an accident.

Requirements For a Switzerland Retirement Visa

These are the requirements you must meet when applying for a Switzerland Retirement Visa:

  • Switzerland Retirement Visa application form.
  • Passport. Attach your valid passport together with your visa application form.
  • Means of subsistence. Provide proof that you have enough money to support yourself financially during your stay in Switzerland.
  • Proof of health and accident insurance valid in the territory of the Swiss Confederation.

NOTE: The Swiss representation may require you to submit additional documents depending on your nationality.

How to Apply For a Switzerland Retirement Visa?

The application procedure for a Switzerland Retirement Visa may differ depending on your country of residence. For example, non-EU/EFTA nationals are obliged to check if they need to apply for a Switzerland Visa to enter the country beforehand, whereas EU/EFTA nationals do not need a visa to enter the territory of Switzerland.

  • Non-EU/EFTA nationals must submit their Switzerland Retirement Visa application together with the Swiss visa application to the relevant Swiss representation. After entering the country, you must register with the relevant municipality in your canton.
  • EU/EFTA nationals must apply for a Switzerland Retirement Visa  in the municipality within two weeks of entering the country.

Depending on the canton you are residing in, you must visit the cantonal migration offices to apply for a retirement residence permit. The cantonal migration offices are responsible for issuing the retirement residence permit.

What Is the Duration of a Retirement Visa for Switzerland?

Once EU/EFTA nationals are granted the retirement visa, they are allowed to stay in Switzerland for a period of five years. The retirement visa is extended automatically if you continue to meet the criteria.

For non-EU/EFTA nationals, the retirement visa is issued for 12 months (one year) and can be renewed once it expires.

*The retirement visa can be renewed/extended for a further period (one year) each time.

How Much Does it Cost to Retire in Switzerland?

Switzerland is considered one of the most expensive countries in the world; therefore, you need a considerable amount of money if you want to move in. For a comfortable retirement, you would need around $1500 for your daily and monthly living expenses without including rent. For rent, you would need an amount of about $2500 to $3500.

Apartments in Switzerland range from $900 being the cheapest accommodation option and $5200 being the most expensive option. However, the accommodation prices vary depending on what area you locate and the size of the apartment. 

Overall, to live comfortably in Switzerland, a single person would need around $3500 to $4000 per month.

Here is a presentation of the average living costs in Switzerland:

ACCOMMODATIONMonthly Cost
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Center$1700
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Center$1400
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Center$3100
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Center $2400
FOODCOSTS
Milk$1.70
Rice $2.90
Eggs$6
Tomato$4.25
Potato$2.55
Apples (kg)$3.90
UTILITIESMONTHLY COSTS (85m2)
Electricity, Water, Heating, Cooling, Garbage$220

Can I Bring My Dependents To Switzerland With a Retirement Visa?

Yes, one of the benefits of obtaining a Switzerland Retirement Visa is that you can bring your dependents (spouse, children) with you. All you need to do is prove that you have sufficient financial resources to support yourself and your dependents during the period of your stay in Switzerland.

Can You Work in Switzerland With a Retirement Visa?

No, to obtain a Switzerland Retirement Visa you are required to prove that you do not participate in any gainful employment or benefit from such activities. Thus, as a retiree, you can pursue employment neither in Switzerland nor abroad.

Can US Citizens Retire in Switzerland?

Yes, US citizens can retire in Switzerland once they meet the requirements and criteria for obtaining a Switzerland Retirement Visa. As a US citizen, you must receive a visa from the Swiss consulate, and apply for a residence permit without gainful employment within two weeks of entering the country. 

You also need to purchase health and accident insurance plans.

Can I Become a Permanent Resident in Switzerland with a Retirement Visa?

There are certain conditions one must fulfill to be eligible for a Swiss Permanent Residence Permit (Permit C).

  • EU/EFTA nationals can become permanent residents of Switzerland after living in Switzerland for five continuous years.
  • Non-EU/EFTA nationals must live in Switzerland for ten consecutive years before applying for permanent residency.
  • American and Canadian citizens can apply for permanent residence after five years of continuous residence in Switzerland.

Health Insurance in Switzerland

Switzerland has a universal healthcare system regulated by the Swiss Federal Law on Health Insurance.  The state does not provide free public health services, and private health insurance is obligatory for all residents of Switzerland. 

Once you purchase basic health insurance, it will cover the cost of medical treatment and hospitalization, but you will need to pay part of the cost of treatment. 

You can pay for part of the treatment cost by:

  • Means of an annual deductible ranging from 300 CHF (approx. $190) to 2,500 CHF (approx. $1500). 
  • A charge of 10% of the treatment cost over and above the excess for an amount of 700 CHF (approx. $430).

The Federal Council of Switzerland will take new measures on health insurance premiums starting from 2022. There will be a significant decrease of 0.2% in the average premium and a reduction of 1.2% in reserves of the average premium health insurance.  

The average monthly compulsory basic health insurance premium for 2022 will be:

  • CHF 373.80 (approx. $380) for an adult (age 26+)
  • CHF 263.80  (approx. $270) for a young adult (age 19–25)
  • CHF 99.60 (approx. $105) for a child (age 0–18)

Benefits of Switzerland Retirement Visa

Obtaining a retirement visa in Switzerland grants you many benefits:

Retirement in Switzerland comes with many benefits:

  • You are allowed to bring your family (spouse, children under 18) with you.
  • You can purchase real estate in Switzerland.
  • You will not have to pay double taxes on pension. 

NOTE: To benefit from the retirement visa, you are required to spend most of the year in the territory of Switzerland. In case this is not possible, and you spend most of your time in a different country, you will not be a beneficiary of the retirement benefits.

Why Retire in Switzerland?

Here is why you should make Switzerland your new retirement home:

  • Healthcare. The Swiss healthcare system ranks first out of 31 countries in the World Index of Healthcare Innovation. Switzerland has an extensive network of well-qualified doctors, clean hospitals, and clinics equipped with the latest technology. Residents have access to specialists and are free to choose their own doctor.
  • Tax system. Considered tax heaven, Switzerland remains on top of the list due to its low taxation of foreign corporations and individuals. The federal government, cantons, and communes levy taxes. Taxes in Switzerland are calculated based on specific figures for specific cantons and municipalities, and the maximum rate of federal income tax is 11.5%..
  • Life quality. Switzerland is known for the high life quality it offers to its citizens. Peacefulness, cleanliness, air quality, and infrastructure are just a few of the factors that help Switzerland rank above other countries.  With the living standards so high and a stable economy, Switzerland is an ideal place for expats. 
  • Safety. Switzerland is one of the safest countries to live in and has been ranked high on the list of the safest countries in the world for years. The crime rate is so low that the only thing you should be careful of is injuring yourself doing outdoor activities in nature.

Best Places to Retire in Switzerland 

Switzerland is undoubtedly one of the best places to live in the world and an expat’s dream. Choosing where to move in for retirement in Switzerland can be difficult and stressful, which is why we have listed some of the best places to retire in Switzerland.

Geneva

Geneva is a compact and beautiful city that offers a global perspective. One of the best things about living in Geneva is the local public transport connections. No matter in which part of Geneva you decide to live, you will be able to get around quickly and efficiently. This makes Geneva a favorite destination for expats to move in.

Winterthur

Winterthur is located in the northeast of Zurich, near the German border. The city is quiet as it is not that popular among tourists. Winterthur is known for its numerous museums such as Oskar Reinhart Collection ‘Am Römerholz’, Oskar Reinhart Collection am Stadtgarten, or Kunstmuseum Winterthur that offer world-class art.

Bern

The city of fountains is the de facto capital of Switzerland. Bern is a picturesque place built around a crook in the Aare River and is considered one of the best cities to live in the world. It is a beautiful and tranquil city that offers a variety of things to do and see.

Due to its long history and mesmerizing old town, Bern has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lugano

A city with a breathtaking view filled with mountains and lakes. Lugano is a city in southern Switzerland’s Italian-speaking Ticino region. The lakeside of the city is an attractive place for tourists all over the world. This lakeside is a wealthy and beautiful area with amazing views, culture, and food. Lovers of pasta, pizza, and red wine will have a great time visiting the luxurious restaurants of Lugano.

Zurich

Zurich is often referred to as one of the most expensive cities to live in Europe, but you get what you pay for. The capital of canton Zurich is famous for its luxurious lifestyle, high-end shopping, and fancy chocolate shops.

What makes Zurich a great place to live in is the quality of life, high salaries, high-quality healthcare, and low crime rates.

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