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Moving to Switzerland

Visas, Costs and How to Move

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If you’re moving to Switzerland, learn everything about how to apply for a visa, what the living costs are like and how to find a job. If you’re interested in finding a removal company to help you move, then take a look at the international movers to Switzerland comparison.

Interesting Facts About Switzerland

  1. The population is estimated to be around 8,700,000
  2. The country has four official languages – German, French, Italian and Romansh.
  3. Milk chocolate was invented by a Swiss chocolatier in 1875, to make it less bitter.
  4. Switzerland is a direct democracy, meaning citizens have direct rights over laws.
  5. They are leaders as watchmakers, producing some of the most sophisticated in the world.

Requirements to Move to Switzerland

When immigrating to Switzerland as a South African citizen you will need to apply for a visa.

Regardless of your stay length and visa type, here is a list of some important documents that you need to submit to apply for visas:

  • Application form
  • South African valid passport
  • Photo taken within the last 6 months
  • Cover letter
  • Bank statement within the last 3 months
  • Certificates (birth, marriage and police – if applicable)
  • Europe Travel Health insurance

Switzerland Work Visa Requirements

To be able to work in Switzerland as a South African citizen, you will need:

  • Work permit by the cantonal authority
  • National Visa (long-term visa) application form
  • Valid passport
  • Recent photo
  • Visa fees

Visas to Switzerland from South Africa

There is a certain procedure you will have to go through to apply for your visa. Firstly, you will need to decide which visa you need, it could be one of the following:

  • Schengen visa – if you plan to stay less than 90 days
  • National visa – if you plan to stay more than 90 days

Types of Visas

Type Description Where to submit Visa Fees
Schengen Visa Less than 90 days – To travel, visit, short-term studies or work permit process VFS Global* 1680 ZAR/adult
National Visa More than 90 days – To study, live or work Regional Consular Center Southern Africa in Pretoria 1680 ZAR/adult
Labour / Work Permit Required to work – Foreign workers hired by Swiss employers Regional Consular Center Southern Africa in Pretoria 1440 ZAR/adult

*A company in partnership with the Embassy of Switzerland. Make sure to submit it no later than 6 months prior to your entrance.

Check all the details on the Swiss Confederation page on:

How to Immigrate to Switzerland Checklist

If you don’t know how to move to Switzerland and where to start, this step-by-step guide will help you organize your relocation:

  1. Gather all documents

Make sure the documentation is valid and prepare your passport, certificates – such as birth or marriage ones – and visa application.

  1. Pack your belongings

A good organization will be key when moving your furniture and packing your stuff. Separate items in different boxes according to categories and even take the opportunity to declutter – it will save you money and time.

Calculate the volume of your furniture with our calculator to get a realistic number and accurate quotes when requesting moving services.

Calculate Volume Now
  1. Hire a moving company

Base your decision on your needs. Be sure the company specialises in international moves and has experience in extra services you may need such as packing, transporting art or pets.

A good place to start is by comparing movers and reading reviews from customers. In the following page, we gathered the best moving companies offering removals from South Africa to Switzerland.

Read customer reviews, compare services and request free quotes from these top moving companies.
  1. Transport a Car to Switzerland

If you want to import your car or other vehicles, it must be declared for import at customs. You will need to bring this documentation next to your passport, vehicle registration and ownership of at least 6 months. Read all the information in Permanently importing into Switzerland.

  1. Get a health insurance

Health insurance is compulsory for residents in Switzerland. You must be insured within the first 3 months after your move.

  1. Arrange your finances

If you’re moving for work, your first step will be opening a Swiss bank account so you can receive your salary and make payments easily.

Once done that, you will need to transfer your money and change the currency. Switzerland isn’t part of the EU, so they have their currency: Swiss francs.

Moving to Switzerland: Costs

The average price to move to Switzerland can range from 57,400 to 94,300 ZAR for a 2-bedroom house. You can expect your stuff to be delivered between 6 to 10 weeks.

However, it will depend on different factors such as the volume, seasonality, method of transport or distance travelled. To give you a better idea, we gathered the average moving costs from Cape Town to Geneva via sea:

Size of House Cost of Move
1 bed flat 42,500 ZAR -72,000 ZAR
2-bed house 57,400 ZAR – 94,300 ZAR
3-bed house 98,000 ZAR – 160,800 ZAR

Disclaimer: These are estimations, average costs can change according to the different factors mentioned above.

If you think you may need a container to ship all of your belongings to Switzerland, take a look at our container shipping prices page.

Moving to Switzerland from South Africa?
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Cost of Moving Pets to Switzerland

Moving your pet can cost you around 50,000 ZAR. This includes all services across the process: hiring a relocation company, vaccinations, certificates, and others.

And don’t forget – If you want to bring your furry friend, they must be:

  • Identified with a microchip
  • Vaccinated against rabies and its blood testing
  • Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) permit – Find the form
  • Health certificate

Living in Switzerland

There are a lot of differences between countries. If you’re moving to Switzerland permanently, there are some things you should know before you leave.

Living Costs in Switzerland

According to Numbeo, daily costs in Switzerland are 239% higher than in South Africa. So, expect living costs to be much higher than what you’re used to. In this table you can find a comparison between both countries:

Average Costs of Living In Switzerland vs South Africa

Expense South Africa Switzerland
City centre rent (1 bedroom) 8,500 ZAR 42,000 ZAR
City centre apartment (per m²) 18,400 ZAR 315,200 ZAR
Milk (L) 18 ZAR 37 ZAR
Eggs (12) 36 ZAR 130 ZAR
Restaurant meal 150 ZAR 545 ZAR
Gasoline (1L) 23 ZAR 40 ZAR

However, the average monthly salary is around 77,000 ZAR a month (this does vary depending on what profession you have), which helps with the higher living costs in Switzerland.

Pros and Cons of Living in Switzerland

Both Zurich and Geneva are referred to as some of the most expensive places to live in the world, which is something that you will need to consider. For example, the rent of a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre of Geneva may cost around 28,000R a month.


 High-quality life
 Natural surroundings
 Job opportunities


 One of the most expensive countries in the world
 high tax rate
 Unpredictable weather
 Reserved culture

Jobs in Switzerland

Switzerland has many work opportunities for foreigners. With their overall strong economy and leadership in different industries such as technology, finances, healthcare and education, finding a job doesn’t have to be a challenge.

How to Get a Work in Switzerland

If you’re planning on living in Switzerland for a long time, then you will need to find a job to sustain yourself whilst you are there. Working in Switzerland is very popular; with high salaries and excellent working conditions. You will find that most jobs will be in German, so it’s best to brush up a bit on your language skills before you leave.

Here are some websites that you can use to find jobs in Switzerland before you move:

Housing in Switzerland

Immigrating to another country means finding a new home. Renting is bigger in Switzerland than buying property, with only 40% of Swiss nationals buying a home.

This makes it more difficult to get onto the property market, which is why we recommend that you have a place to rent before moving to Switzerland and then once you get to know your surroundings, you can better find a place to buy a home and settle down.

The best way to find housing is through online portals, such as the ones below:

😲 Can a foreigner buy a house in Switzerland? Yes, foreigners can buy properties. Unless you’re a permanent resident, you will be only allowed to buy holiday homes. On the opposite, to buy real estate, you may need a permit. Find all the details in Buying property on the government page.

Healthcare System in Switzerland

The Swiss healthcare system is regarded as one of the best in the world. However, it isn’t free and it’s important to take out basic health insurance within the first three months of moving to Switzerland. For more information, you can visit the Swiss authorities website.

Education System in Switzerland

Switzerland has a public education system, which is free, as well as compulsory from 4 to 16. The rules of the education curriculum are determined by each canton (member state) within Switzerland, and you can look up the educational requirements in each of the cantonal education departments.

Most students are educated at a state school in the local area where they live with only about 5% of Swiss children going to private school. This means that most children have mixed abilities and come from a range of different backgrounds.

If you’re interested in moving to study at university, you should know that there are plenty of opportunities for international students at top universities. Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) in Lugano is probably the ‘most international’ university as 65% of its students come from 100 different countries.

Ready to Move to Switzerland?

We hope that we have provided you with enough information for your move and that you find immigrating to Switzerland less daunting than before. Below are some other pages that you may be interested in that could be relevant to your move.

Frequently asked questions

Do South Africans need a visa for Switzerland?

How much does it cost to go to Switzerland?

What are the costs of living in Switzerland?

Is Switzerland a good country to live in?