Expat Forum

Guide to Switzerland, find expat clubs, accommodation, healthcare & more

Guide to Switzerland, find expat clubs, accommodation, healthcare & more

Living in Switzerland


The seat of the UN and the EU, Switzerland sees the faces of many expats from all over the world daily. Geneva has a huge number of expatriates ranging from diplomats to foreign employees. There are many things Switzerland is known for; watches, banking, chocolate and skiing. Yet even just standing still, foreigners will marvel at the picturesque mountain tops, crisp cold weather, and bright blue skies.

Switzerland Lake Lugano

Expat Clubs


American Club of Zurich
The American Club of Zurich (ACZ) is here to provide you a smooth integration into the community. In addition, the club, through its own volunteers, organizes wonderful events that enable you to fully benefit from your experiences in Switzerland.
Address: Postfach, 8000 Zurich, Switzerland
Tel: +41 79 243 5681, Fax +41 86079 243 5681
Email: info@acz.ch
Website: www.acz.ch
 
American Women's Club of Bern in Switzerland
The American Women's Club of Bern is a non-political organization of American women meeting for social, charitable, and cultural activities and to facilitate better understanding of Switzerland.
Address: AWC Bern, 3000 Bern, Switzerland
Website: www.awcbern.org
 
 
American Women's Club of Zurich
The American Women's Club of Zurich (AWCZ) is a non-profit, volunteer organization providing friendship and support among American women as well as non-American women with close ties to the United States, living in Switzerland and to facilitate their efforts to integrate into the Swiss community.
Website: www.awczurich.org
 
American Women of Ticino
The group meets regularly to share information on topics of mutual interest and to provide support for one another. We also plan special events to commemorate American holidays.
Email: awotcontact@gmail.com
Website: www.awot.ch
 
 
Fribourg Expat Woman's Group
Our group's main aim is to unite women who are living in the surrounding areas of Fribourg.  We offer the ability for new comers to meet existing members so they can share and swap information plus experiences, whilst making and building new friendships in a new country.
Website:  www.fewgroup.org
 
 
International Women's Club of Lucerne
We are an active English-speaking club in the Lucerne area, and we are delighted to share with you our interests and events on the web. It is our hope that this homepage will reach out to English-speaking women in the Lucerne area and lead to many new and rewarding friendships.
Website: www.iwscol.shuttlepod.org
 
 
International Women's Club of Lugano
The Club's purpose is to bring women together in order to share resources, hobbies, interests, skills and contacts via a wide variety of informal and formal activities. The Club now has more than 210 members from over 30 countries. Most of the members live in Ticino.
Website: www.iwcl.org
 
Organization of Women in International Trade
OWIT Lake Geneva connects professionals across industries, providing networking, development, and social opportunities. OWIT Lake Geneva's members represent a diverse spectrum of cultures and industries. Our members benefit from a world-wide network of like-minded women and men interested in expanding their professional networks, sharing ideas and best practices, and continuing their education.
Address: Rue du Mont Blanc 18, Case postale 1542, 1211 Genève 1, Switzerland
Email: administrator@owit-lakegeneva.org
Website: www.owit-lakegeneva.org
 
Professional Women's Group of Basel
The Professional Women's Group of Basel exists to offer women of diverse professional and cultural backgrounds a platform to gain new insights, exchange information and share experiences whilst building friendships and professional relationships in a welcoming and social environment. PWG is a not-for-profit organization with 130 members from more than 25 countries.
Address: Centrepoint. In Lohnhof 8 .  CH – 4051 Basel, Switzerland
Email: info@pwg-basel.ch
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=66861
Website:  www.pwg-basel.ch
 
Professional Women's Group of Zurich
The Professional Women’s Group of Zurich (PWG) provides support for English speaking women who are interested in meeting and networking with other women, for professional or social purposes, and to exchange experiences about the working world. Women of all nationalities are welcome whether currently employed or not.
Address: Zurich , ZH 8000, Switzerland
Website: www.professionalwomensgroup.com
 
Zurich International Women's Association
ZIWA is Zurich's leading International Women's Association. Our purpose is simple. We bring together women of all ages and nationalities to help celebrate different cultures, expand our viewpoints and build friendships. With over 650 members representing 65 different nationalities, ZIWA is dynamic, very international and most importantly fun!
Address: ZIWA, 8000 Zürich, SWITZERLAND
Website: www.ziwa.com/new/about.html

International Schools 


Inter-Community School of Zurich
ICS is an IB World School offering the Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes of the International Baccalaureate.
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Address: Strubenacher 3, Postfach, 8126 Zumikon. Switzerland
Tel: +41 44 919 8300
Email: contact@icsz.ch
Website: www.icsz.ch
 
International School of Bern
ISBerne continues to offer, in addition to the IB, an accredited US High School Diploma.  Additionally, since 2012, ISBerne offers ISBerne Online, a new online school powered by K12 Inc.’s outstanding curriculum, which opens ISBerne to students around the world.
Currlculim: American International Baccalaureate
Address: Mattenstrasse 3, 3073, Gümligen, Bern, Switzerland
Website: www.isberne.ch
 
International School of Geneva
The International School of Geneva serves both the international and local communities of the Geneva area. They offer programmes in English and in French.
Curriculum: American
Address: 62, route de Chêne, CH - 1208 Genève, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 787 24 00
Fax +41 22 787 24 10
Website: www.ecolint.ch
 
International School of Schaffhausen
The International School of Schaffhausen offers high quality education to students ages 3 to 17. ISSH is a private, non-profit institution owned by the International School of Schaffhausen Foundation. It was founded in 1999 to serve the needs of the local international community. The school is an IB world school, authorized by the IB – International Baccalaureate to offer all three IB Programmes: IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) and IB Diploma Programme (DP), leading to university entrance.
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Address: Mühlentalstrasse 280, CH-8200 Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Tel: +41 52 624 17 07
Fax: +41 52 624 17 56
Email: info@issh.ch
Website: www.issh.ch
 
International School of Winterthur
International School Winterthur was founded in 2001 and is a not-for-profit organization governed by a foundation. The school opened its doors in 2002 with just 12 students and to keep pace with the development of the school, ISW has moved facilities 3 times in the last 6 years. They have a multicultural student body as well as faculty and staff.
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Address: Zum Park 5, CH-8404 Winterthur, Switzerland
Tel: +41 52 269 59 00
Fax: +41 52 269 59 02
Email administration@iswinterthur.ch
Website: www.iswinterthur.ch
 
Swiss International School – Zurich North
International School - Zurich North is an IB World School, which offers students an international education in the English language and the benefits of living in a local culture.
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Address: Industriestrasse 50
CH-8304 Wallisellen
Tel: +41 44 830 7000
Fax: +41 44 830 7007
Email: info@iszn.ch
Website: www.international-school.ch
 
Zurich International School
Zurich International School is a leading, non-profit day school offering a comprehensive education program for students aged 2 to 18 in the greater Zurich and Baden areas. Over 1,500 students from more than 55 countries attend one of the school’s five campuses.
Address (Early Childhood Center): Seestrasse 169, 8802 Kilchberg
Tel: +41 (0) 58 750 2250
Fax: +41 (0) 58 750 2251
 
Address (Lower School Wadenswil): Steinacherstrasse 140, 8820 Wädenswil
Tel: +41 58 750 2200
Fax: +41 58 750 2201
 
Address (Early ZIS, Wadenswil): Steinacherstrasse 150, 8820 Wädenswil
Tel: +41 58 750 2210
 
Address (Middle School, Kilchberg): Nidelbadstrasse 49, 8802 Kilchberg
Tel: +41 58 750 2300
Fax: +41 58 750 2301
 
Address (Upper School): Eichenweg 2, 8134 Adliswil
Tel: +41 58 750 2400
Fax: +41 58 750 2401
 
Address (Baden): Mellingerstrasse 18, 5400 Baden
+41 58 750 2280
+41 58 750 2281
Email: zis@zis.ch
Website: www.zis.ch

Local News in English


The Local
This is an independent English-language site that covers local events and happenings. It also has job postings, accommodation listings and a community page.
Website: www.thelocal.ch

Country Information 


Location: Euro
Capital City: Bern
Other Important Cities: Zurrís, Geneva, Zurich, Interlaken, Basel.
Currency: Swiss Franc
Language: German, French, Italian, Raeto-Romance
Calling Code: +41
Internet TLD: .ch
Electricity: Switzerland runs on 230V 50Hz. Electricity is provided by a number of companies:

Alpiq
Website: www.alpiq.com
 
Axpo
Website: www.axpo.com/axpo/global/en/home.html
 
BKG FMB Energie
Website: www.bkw.ch
 
Kraftwerke Oberhasli AG
Website: www.grimselstrom.ch
 
Repower
Website: www.repower.com/group
 
Emergency Numbers:
Emergency Rescue: 144
Fire: 118
Police: 117
Country Information
en.wikipedia.org  

Embassy Information


Find your local embassy in Switzerland...
embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-in/switzerland

Residents Visa and Work Permit information


Schengen visa regulations apply when visiting Switzerland. Nationals from certain countries are exempted from visas for up to 90 days; this includes the US and the EU. Other nationals will have to apply for a Schengen visa at a Swiss embassy or consulate.

General document requirements, not limited to:
  • Valid passport, minimum 6 months
  • Completed Schengen visa application form
  • Proof of solvency or finances that can cover entire stay in the country
  • Payment receipts of corresponding processing fees
Expats who intend to stay in the country for more than 90 days will have to apply for a residence permit. This permit allows them to live and work in Switzerland. These permits are issued by the Cantonal Migration Offices. There are three types: short-term residence, less than 1 year; annual residence, limited; and permanent residence, unlimited.
EU/EFTA nationals and non-EU/EFTA nationals have different terms and requirements. The Swiss government site has outlined these: www.bfm.admin.ch/content/bfm/en/home/themen/aufenthalt/eu_efta.html

EU/EFTA short-term residence permit:

EU-25/EFTA nationals are entitled to this permit provided they are in possession of an employment contract valid from three up to twelve months. Employment contracts of less than 3 months’ duration within a calendar year are not subject to a permit but are regulated via a registration procedure. For nationals of EU-2 member states (Bulgaria and Romania), all employment is still subject to a permit. In addition, the temporary regulations will apply until approximately 2016. The period of validity of the permit is identical to the term of the employment contract. It can be extended for a total period of less than twelve months. Provided the new quota has not been exhausted, the permit can be renewed after an overall stay of one year without foreign nationals having to interrupt their residence in Switzerland. L EU/EFTA permits without gainful employment are granted to job seekers from all EU/EFTA states. However, this practice does not create an entitlement to social insurance.
 
Non-EU/EFTA short term residence permit:

The residence permit with gainful employment is intended for members of the families of intergovernmental organisations and for members of foreign representations. This concerns the spouses and children up to 25 years of age. The validity of the permit is limited to the duration of the main holder's function.
Expats who have obtained employment with a local Swiss company will be assisted by their employers in the residence permit application process.

Accommodation


The expat population in Switzerland is growing, with a number of foreign skilled professionals entering the work-force of multi-national corporations. The most popular places of residence in Switzerland are Zurich and Geneva. Granted, the cost of living, including accommodations are steep, however foreign employees will find that their salary/wage packages are adjusted accordingly to ease this burden. Most of the time, the employer, in some cases, will provide for accommodations a sum will be allocated as living expenses in their contracts.

Living in apartment buildings is the more preferred mode of housing in Switzerland. A majority of the local populace rent apartments, which leaves a short supply of listings for expats. It can be a strenuous activity to find accommodations, so expats more often turn to real estate agencies to facilitate the search and the process of securing a unit and a rental contract.

Competitions are fierce for accommodation; even after a prospective tenant signs up for a particular unit, they will have to provide a number of documentary proof including personal information, financial stability, and even rental history from previous landlords. If the tenant is selected, after all the requirements and screening, they will have to pay the first month rent plus a deposit, which is 1 to 3 months’ rent. Deposits are refundable after the contract has ended or terminated. Contracts usually run for 12 months. Earlier termination dates are usually included in the contract, should a tenant choose to discontinue the lease much earlier than the contractual date.

Geneva is the more international city in Switzerland; being the EU, UN, WHO and multinational corporations’ headquarters, the influx of expatriates within the city makes Geneva a crossroad of cultures. For foreigners with families, it’s a good place to live in with spacious living conditions, international schools, medical facilities and government buildings in close proximity. Finding accommodations here is a tough completion, but expat employees are usually aided by their employers. As initially stated, cost of living is steep with single bedroom apartments starting  at $1,800 per month.

Driving License


Expats may use their domestic license, provided it is recognized by the country, to drive legally in the country for up to 12 months. Legal residents who are going to stay for much longer than that have either the option of exchanging their license for a local Swiss one or securing one as a first time applicant. Nationals from these countries may exchange their license by taking a theory examination: the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and Singapore. Others will have to take both theory and practical examination at the Strassenverkehrsamf road traffic authority.

Documents required:
  • Completed application form
  • Original domestic/foreign license with translation (if not in English)
  • Eye test certificate from registered optician
  • Photo
  • Residence permit, permit ‘L’
  • Certificate of residence
  • A valid ID
For more information please visit: www.stva.zh.ch/internet/sicherheitsdirektion/stva/de/StVAaw/AWumschreib.html (German)

Healthcare


Switzerland is known for its top quality and high standard of medical services and treatments. Both public and private facilities offer virtually equal quality of services. Waiting time isn’t even an issue in government hospitals. Some specialist treatments are only available through private institutions. Private health insurance is mandatory in Switzerland, and should be arranged by the expat within 3 months of residence.
 
Insurance Companies

Allianz Worldwide Care
A wide range of International Healthcare Plans for individuals working or living away from home
Website: www.allianzworldwidecare.com
 
Hospitals
 
Geneva Medical Center
Ideally located in the center of Geneva, the Medical Center Rue de Lausanne provides personalized health care in a modern environment. The medical center takes part in a project of health system innovation with the ambition of becoming a regional reference in community health care.
Address: 80 rue de Lausanne, CH - 1202 Genève, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 908 33 33
Fax +41 22 908 33 08
Email: info-cmrl@cmge.ch
Website: www.emcgeneva.ch/cmruedelausanne
 
Centre Medico-Chirurgical Vermont Grand Pre
Vermont Medical Center-Grand-Pré was founded in 1985 by the team of the Medical Services of the former Servette. Since its founding, the number of services it provides to its patients is increasing. The main concern of the Medical Center is to provide care center nearby and accessible to all. Its prime location between the train station and Geneva Cointrin Airport; it close to the Place des Nations.
Address: 9a, rue de Vermont, Geneva, 1202, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 734 51 50
Website: pmv.ch
 
Clinique Belmont
Belmont Clinic, was established in 1978, is a pioneer in Switzerland in the treatment of addictions and eating disorders.
Address: 26, route de Chene, Geneva, 1207, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 735 78 11
Website: www.cliniquebelmont.ch/
 
Clinique Generale Beaulieu
They are the first clinic in western Switzerland to be certified to IS 9001 standards. They feature the latest technology in healthcare, including the da Vinci surgical robot and isotopic PET/CT imaging.
Address: Chemin Beau-Soleil 20, Geneva, 1206, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 839 55 55
Fax: +41 22 839 55 56
Website: www.beaulieu.ch
 
Clinique de Joli-Mont
This is a public medical facility in Geneva, focused primarily on the consequences of treatments for medical and surgical conditions. The property offers a multidisciplinary approach to rehabilitation of quality, also offering any specific geriatric care.
Address: Avenue Trembley 45, Case postale 62, Geneva, 1211, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 717 03 11
Fax: +41 22 717 03 10
Website: www.cliniquedejolimont.ch
 
Clinique La Colline
Clinique La Colline is a multidisciplinary medical and surgical facility that is equipped  to accommodate patients in inpatient or outpatient. It has six operating rooms that meet the latest standards which can be performed all surgeries.
Address: Avenue de Beau-Sejour 6, Geneva, 1206, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 7 022 022
Website: www.lacolline.ch/fr/clinique-la-colline
 
Hospital Universitaire de Geneve
The hospital has specialities in hepatobiliary and pancreatic diseases, cardiovascular health, oncology, as well as genetic medicine and vaccinology
Address: Rue Gabrielle Perret Gentil 4, Geneva, 1205, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 372 33 11
 
Clinique Dentaire de Geneve – Nations
Address: 29, Avenue de France, Geneva, 1202, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 735 73 55
 
The Geneva Smile Center
Address: 2 Quai Gustave Ador, Geneva, 1207, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 700 78 56
Fax: +41 22 700 78 57
Website: genevasmilecenter.ch/index.html

 

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