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Can cross-border workers buy property in Switzerland?

Can cross-border workers buy property in Switzerland?
Image: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Whether it be a place to rest your head at the end of a long day or an investment, buying property in Switzerland may be attractive to cross-border workers. Is it permitted?

Coming primarily from France, Germany and Italy, cross-border workers are considered to be an essential part of the Swiss economy – and are crucial in certain sectors, for instance healthcare.

In 2019, an estimated 325,000 people crossed the border into Switzerland every day to work – 177,000 from France, 76,000 from Italy and 60,000 from Germany. Figures from 2020 are considered unreliable, due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

But are they allowed to buy property in Switzerland – and what are the rules? 

Who are Switzerland’s cross-border workers?

Generally speaking, people who cross the border for work do so on a G Permit, which allows them to work in Switzerland each day, gives them the right to cross the border even during the coronavirus shutdown and provides them with other special rights. 

For instance, where cross-border workers have health insurance tied to their workplace in Switzerland, they are entitled to get vaccinated here. 

Reader question: Can cross-border workers get vaccinated in Switzerland?

Cross-border workers are also in some cases entitled to specific beneficial tax arrangements. 

READ MORE: Tax rules cross-border workers in Switzerland need to know

Why would a cross-border worker buy a house in Switzerland? 

It might seem an odd idea, particularly considering the importance of residency in home ownership in Switzerland and the need to live abroad when possessing a G Permit. 

As we discussed in our explainer on foreigners buying a house in Switzerland, generally the most important factor in whether you are allowed to buy a house in Switzerland is whether you reside there. 

READ MORE: Can foreigners buy property in Switzerland?

Similarly, a person on a G Permit must stay a cross-border worker in order to keep that permit – i.e. they are not allowed to move to Switzerland and retain the G Permit. 

So why would a cross-border worker want to buy property in Switzerland – one of the world’s most expensive countries? 

This could be as an investment, with the value of Swiss property incredibly stable – even during the recent pandemic. It could also be to sleep during the week (i.e. to avoid the cross-border commute each day) or as a holiday home. 

Can cross-border workers buy property in Switzerland? 

The short answer is yes, but there are a lot of stipulations to keep in mind. 

Cross-border workers on a G Permit are allowed to buy a house near their place of work without any additional permit or authorisation. 

However, the purchase is connected to the buyer’s work – meaning that it may not be rented out, even partially (i.e. one room or for a short period of time). 

Also, the property needs to be under 1,000 square metres, otherwise additional authorisation from cantonal authorities will be needed. 

Investment properties are not authorised under a G Permit – and if you buy a holiday home, best make sure it’s close to your workplace. 

What about finance? 

Getting cash to buy the place is another matter. 

Switzerland’s Moneyland website warns that most Swiss banks will not accept mortgages from cross-border workers, although some will do so if the property is in Switzerland. 

Some Swiss banks also lend money to cross-border workers who buy a place in their country of residence, provided that you earn your income in Switzerland. 

More information on purchasing property as a foreigner is available at this official government link. 

Note: As with all of our guides, please keep in mind that this is intended as information only and does not constitute legal advice. For more specific advice to your set of personal circumstances, please contact a lawyer or property advisor.


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