Employment & Taxes

Do you want to run your own business, are you looking for a job or do you want to volunteer? Do you have questions about work permits or taxes? Here is an overview.

  • Start a Business

    Are you considering setting up your company in the city or canton of Bern? The Economic Development Agency of the Canton of Bern can assist you in this area.

  • Work Permits

    The conditions for residing and working in Switzerland are regulated by federal law and can vary depending on many factors including nationality, occupation, fixed quotas and the principle of priority. Each application is examined individually by the Swiss authorities, meaning that we cannot give you specific information.

    EU and EFTA citizens...

    ... benefit from the free movement of persons. They may stay in Switzerland without a visa for up to three months and look for a job during this time. However, you are required to register with your local municipality (further information relocation & arrival).

    Third-country nationals outside of the EU and EFTA...

    ... require a work permit (which in turn requires an employment contract) before taking up employment in Switzerland. However, a job offer is not a guarantee that a work permit will be granted. Work permits must be assessed by various Swiss authorities.

    Special conditions apply to individuals with privileged status

    ... as they enjoy a facilitated access to the labour market. Regardless of whether they wish to be employed or open their own business, to work for a Swiss company or a business abroad, the FDFA Protocol (bilateral) or the Protocol Service of the Swiss Mission in Geneva (multilateral) must be informed about your activities. 

  • Job Vacancy Portals

    Make sure that your application documents are complete: cover letter, résumé/CV (including photo) and copies of all your certificates and diplomas. References are usually required as well.

  • Volunteer
    • City of Bern: Addresses about volunteering
    • City of Bern: Social engagement
    • Benevol
    • City festivals (Stadtfescht, Buskers, etc.) and bigger activities like Christmas markets are constantly looking for volunteers. Check out the respective websites for more information.
  • Self-Employment

    Would you like to set up your own business? The SME Portal of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research can assist you in this area.

    Information for individuals with privileged status -> see point "work permit".

  • Taxes

    Foreign nationals

    ... living in Switzerland and holding a residence permit (C permit) must declare their income and assets annually using a standard tax return. Depending on your work or residence permit, taxes may be deducted directly from the salary (tax at source). Taxes are levied by the Canton of Bern: Taxes

    Individuals with privileged status

    ... Special conditions apply. If you have questions in this regard, please contact the FDFA Protocol (bilateral) or the Protocol service of the Swiss Mission (multilateral) for further information. However, if you have a question about value-added tax, you may contact the Federal Tax Administration. See also FDFA, Tax Privileges 

    In Switzerland, which is a federal state, tax laws are not uniform throughout the country but rather regulated by the individual cantons. As a result, the regulations and tax rates differ from canton to canton. There are municipal taxes as well as cantonal and federal taxes.

    Fiduciaries: Association of Fiduciaries

  • Radio and Television License Fees (Serafe)

    Newcomers moving to Switzerland from abroad without privileged status must pay this public-service license fee. Individuals with privileged status are exempt from this charge.

  • Value-Added Tax (VAT)
    • Individuals who do not possess privileges, immunities or facilities may import goods with a value of up to CHF 300 into Switzerland without having to pay the value-added tax. The Swiss VAT must be paid even if the foreign VAT is not refunded.

    • Special rules apply to individuals with privileges, immunities and facilities in Switzerland. Refunds of Swiss VAT are handled by the Swiss Federal Tax Administration. The FDFA Protocol (bilateral) and the Protocol service of the Swiss Mission in Geneva (multilateral) are not responsible.
    • FDFA, Tax Privileges 

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