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Visas and Permits for Basel, Switzerland

Expats moving to Basel, will find that the city and its surrounding region is a unique area influenced by three different countries. Our guide on the city of Basel introduces the tri-national Euro district and its people, the required visas and permits for Switzerland, and Basel's residential areas.

Short-Term Stays in Switzerland

Finding the right visa as well as work and/or residence permit depends on three main factors: the duration of your stay, your reason for moving, and your nationality.

The required paperwork is easiest to handle for brief stays that don't involve any gainful employment. If you come to Basel for job interviews, business negotiations, or a preliminary visit, you'll fall into this category. For such trips (which last no longer than 90 days), you need the following:

  • valid travel document
  • financial resources for your entire stay (or a host acting as your guarantor)
  • travel insurance worth at least 30,000 CHF

Depending on your citizenship, you may also need a visa for Switzerland. Please check this list of visa requirements. If you are exempt from visa regulations, your passport will be enough. All other people must apply for a Schengen visa at the nearest Swiss representation. It allows them to travel within the Schengen area for three months.

Moving to Basel for Work

If you would like to start a new job in Basel, things are slightly more complicated. Your nationality has a major impact on the entry requirements.

EU 25 and EFTA Nationals

Citizens of EU/EFTA member states (except for Bulgaria and Romania) never require a visa. If they want to work in Switzerland for less than three months (e.g. as part of a project), they do not need a work permit (Arbeitsbewilligung), either. However, they must register online as a foreign employee.

If they'd like to work in Basel for over 90 days, they still need a work and residence permit from the local immigration office (Migrationsamt). If you are a citizen of an EU member state and want to work in Basel for one to five years, you need to apply for a permit. Although the Swiss attempted to impose a quota system for the number of work permits available for EU/EFTA citizens, this was deemed unlawful under the “Agreement on the Free Movement of People” signed by Switzerland in 2002. As a result  EU/EFTA nationals, have little trouble gaining a work permit, although in regions with high unemployment Swiss jobseekers are by law given priority.

EU 2 Nationals

It's more difficult for expats from Bulgaria and Romania to start working in Basel. While they do not need a visa, either, their future employer always has to apply for a work permit at Basel's labor office (Amt fuer Wirtschaft und Arbeit). In 2017 the Swiss government imposed temporary restrictions on the number of long-term permits available for EU 2 nationals for a 12 month period. Also, their application depends on a thorough review of working conditions and potential Swiss candidates for the same job.

If you are an expat from a EU/EFTA member state and your job contract is valid for more than 12 months, you generally receive a work permit valid for five years. After that period, you can renew it for another five years. However, if you have been unemployed for over a year at the time of renewal, the permit will be renewed for twelve months only.

Third-Country Nationals

Third-country nationals (those not from an EU/EFTA member state) have to undergo a lengthy procedure before they can begin to work in Basel. Once they have a confirmed job offer, their employer must apply for a work permit on their behalf.

First, the company contacts the canton's labor office (Amt fuer Wirtschaft und Arbeit). Then,  if they approve of the application, they forward a recommendation to the Federal Migration Office. The latter checks the application again. If it's successful, they get in touch with the local labor office, as well as the migration office in question. The migration office sends the work/residence permit to the Swiss mission, where the expat has lodged their visa application. As soon as you have your permit and visa, you can move to Basel.

Unfortunately, the permits are subject to quota regulations. Any of the offices mentioned above may refuse to issue one. However, short-term work permits and intra-company transfers are seldom refused.

Other Permits

If you want your family to join you, talk to your Swiss representation and the Basel migration office about specific requirements. Generally, third-country nationals must prove that they have sufficient financial resources, adequate accommodation, and childcare options.

If you are planning to live across the border, but work in Basel, you still need a Swiss work permit (Grenzgaengerbewilligung). It allows you to travel between the two countries and to take up gainful employment in Switzerland. You must simply return to your country of residence once a week.

You can read more on acquiring a permit in our article on residence permits in Switzerland.

Local Registration

Even if you have your visa and permit(s), you need to face some more red tape. Collect your alien ID (Auslaenderausweis) at the migration office and acquire a residence certificate as soon as possible. The residence certificate isn't the same as your residence permit. It's an official proof of residence that Swiss nationals also obtain when they move house. It's available at the local registry office (Einwohneramt).

Here are some useful addresses in Basel:

Migrationsamt Basel Stadt (Migration Office)

Spiegelgasse 12

4001 Basel

061 267 70 70

migrationsamt@jsd.bs.ch

 

Amt fuer Wirtschaft und Arbeit (Labor Office)

Abteilung Arbeitsbewilligungen

Utengasse 36

4005 Basel

061 267 87 87

awa@bs.ch

 

Einwohneramt (Registry Office)

Spiegelgasse 6

4001 Basel

061 267 70 60

bdm@jsd.bs.ch

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

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