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Insurance and Work Permits for Geneva

There are plenty of things you’ll need to know as an expat working in Geneva: How do I pay income tax? Do I need Swiss health insurance? Who requires an employment permit? What about social security? You will find the answers to these questions (and more) in our guide to working in Geneva.
Geneva is home to many luxury watch-makers and well known for Swiss precision.

Health Insurance — It’s for Everyone

The public health insurance system in Switzerland is based on compulsory individual contributions to a health insurance provider of your choice. Everyone residing in Switzerland for a period exceeding three months must register with an accredited health insurance provider in Switzerland. The Service de l’assurance maladie of the Canton of Geneva offers a list of all authorized insurers in the area.

No public health insurance provider can refuse you on grounds of pre-existing conditions or chronic illness. While there are various packages available, all insurers are obliged to offer one basic tariff to everyone. Tariffs for the Canton of Geneva can also be compared on the website of the Service de l’assurance maladie.

Insurance Contributions for Expats

As opposed to other forms of social insurance, the Swiss public health insurance is not partly financed by employer contributions. Every person is individually responsible for paying their own full health premium.

EU/EFTA citizens may be exempt from compulsory Swiss health insurance if they are still covered by the health insurance system of their usual country of residence. It is the duty of the cantonal health authority in Geneva to inform every new resident about their obligation to take out insurance.

Expats who have reasons to believe they may be exempted from Swiss health insurance should address any such requests to the Service de l’assurance maladie.

You can learn more about Swiss health insurance from our in-depth guide on Health and Insurance in Switzerland.

How to Get a Work Permit

Every foreigner working in Geneva must have a valid work and residence permit, with the single exception of EU/EFTA residents whose stay does not exceed three months.

There are still some restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians who want to work in Switzerland. Moreover, Switzerland recently introduced temporary quotas for employees from the EU-8 member states. However, all other EU nationals don’t need a special permit for short-term work assignments. They must, however, be registered with the Federal Office for Migration by their employer.

For all work contracts lasting more than three months, the employer must obtain a work permit for the potential employee. This does not pose a problem for most EU/EFTA nationals – with the exceptions just mentioned above.

However, getting a work permit is very difficult if the candidate is a third-state national. There are strict limits on the annual numbers of work and residence permits granted to non-EU nationals every year. Even within these limits, the employer has to prove that no Swiss or EU citizen was able or willing to fill the post and that the salary and working conditions associated with the job conform to Geneva standards.

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