Living in Switzerland For Members

Five things you should know if you're a cross-border worker in Switzerland

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Five things you should know if you're a cross-border worker in Switzerland
A skier hits the slopes past a banner showing Swiss border above the ski resort of Zermatt in the Swiss Alps on November 28, 2020. - As EU countries debate a bloc-wide ban on ski holidays to curb coronavirus infections, downhill enthusiasts may be tempted to head to non-member Switzerland, where the winter season is well underway. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

There are a record number of "frontalier" workers in Switzerland or "grenzgänger" as they are called in German. Here's some important info that cross-border workers in Switzerland should know about.


Statistics show that a record number of 325, 291 workers from France, Germany, and Italy commute to their jobs in Switzerland every day. These G-permit holders work mostly in Geneva, Ticino, and Basel, but some are employed in other cantons as well.
Whatever canton you work in, there are many modalities you have to familiarise yourself with.

1: Health insurance

All frontaliers or grenzgänger must be insured against illness in Switzerland from the first day of their employment.

If you are a EU/EFTA national, you have a choice between the Swiss system or the coverage in your country of residence. This is called “right of option”. 

If you don’t want to be insured in Switzerland, you must submit a request for exemption to the health insurance services of the canton where you work within three months. After this deadline, the Swiss authorities will automatically sign you up for compulsory insurance coverage, choosing a carrier on your behalf.

If you are a French cross-border worker with Swiss insurance exemption, you must complete the form 'Choix du système d'assurance-maladie' of the French Caisse primaire d'assurance-maladie (CPAM), and return it within three months to the relevant authority in the canton in which you work. 


G permit holders who are not EU/EFTA nationals don’t have the ‘right of option’. They must be covered by a Swiss insurance.

Also, Swiss employers must take out accident insurance for their employees. For those who work less than eight hours a week, the insurance will cover workplace accidents only. Employees who work more than eight hours weekly will have insurance against non-occupational accidents as well — for instance, if something happens on the way to or from work.

2. Unemployment benefits

Contributions for unemployment benefits are automatically deducted from your salary. If you lose your job in Switzerland because your employer discontinued your contract, you would have to claim benefits from the unemployment office in your country of residence. In such a case, request a PD U1 form from the Swiss unemployment office, as well an international employment certificate from your former Swiss employer. 

In case of ‘partial unemployment’, that is, if your work hours are reduced, or if the company you work for temporarily or definitely ceases its activities, then you are entitled to Swiss benefits

3. Taxes

Taxation is a complicated matter for everyone, but even more so for cross-border workers. Normally, you pay Swiss taxes automatically, because your Swiss employer deducts them from your monthly salary.

Switzerland has double-taxation agreements with over 80 countries. This means that your Swiss taxes are deducted from your tax liability in your country of residence. You have to provide your Swiss salary statements to tax authorities in your home country as proof of tax payment.


Now, if you are a citizen of France, things are a bit different. If you work in cantons other than Geneva, then your taxes are collected by French authorities. However, if your place of employment is Geneva, you pay taxes in Switzerland.

If you reside in Germany but spend more than 60 nights per year in Switzerland for work-related reasons, you pay taxes in Switzerland rather than in Germany.

4. Bank accounts

Your Swiss employers will expect you to have a bank account in Switzerland into which they can deposit your salary directly.

However, some banks don’t accept customers who have no permanent residence in Switzerland. Others will accept cross-border workers but will charge them additional fees, which can amount to several hundred francs a year. Keep in mind that fees vary from one bank to another, so it is best to check.

Some financial institutions, like Banque Cantonale Vaudoise and Valiant Bank, do offer free accounts. UBS offers them to border workers who live in Germany, France, Italy or Austria, if at least 500 francs per month is deposited into the account.

Your salary will be paid in Swiss francs, but you can withdraw euros at most Bancomats in Switzerland free of charge.

5. Driving

You can use a private car registered in a EU country to commute to and from your Swiss workplace, but you cannot use your vehicle for work in Switzerland — such as, for instance, delivering goods or running errands for your employer.

If you remain in Switzerland during the work week and go home only on weekends, you must obtain a permit for your car from the Swiss customs office.

And if you drive your employer’s car registered in Switzerland, you can only use it to commute to and from work, not for any private business.

Also remember that you need a "motorway sticker" or "vignette" to drive in Switzerland  It is renewable every year and costs 40 francs.



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