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How can I have my foreign qualifications recognised in Switzerland?

Moving to Switzerland or already here but want your home country degree recognised? Here’s what you need to know.

How can I have my foreign qualifications recognised in Switzerland?
Photo by Ekrulila from Pexels

Switzerland is a hub of international workers in a diverse variety of industries. 

From high-skilled to low-skilled workers, Switzerland is a popular destination country for work. 

An estimated 25 percent of people who live in Switzerland are foreign, while a further 500,000 cross the border from France, Germany, Italy or Austria into Switzerland for work regularly. 

If you didn’t study at a Swiss university or complete an apprenticeship in Switzerland, you can have your foreign qualifications recognised in order to work in Switzerland. 

READ MORE: How wealthy foreigners can ‘buy’ a Swiss residence permit

You’ll need a copy of your qualifications (possibly translated), while in some cases you’ll have to pay a fee.

Whether you are coming from the EU or not will also be an important factor, as Switzerland has adopted the EU’s system of mutual recognition of professional qualifications

Here’s what you need to know. 

How to have your foreign qualifications recognised in Switzerland

Switzerland needs workers in several different industry types, which means that the rules are relatively relaxed when it comes to recognition of foreign qualifications. 

Workers who have their foreign qualifications recognised will be a confirmation that the qualifications are the same as their Swiss equivalent. 

In some cases foreign qualifications will only be partially recognised, meaning that additional study or training may be necessary. 

In other cases, training in a Swiss language (usually to B1 level) will also be required, but in many cases working in English or another language without learning either German, Italian or French will be acceptable. 

What kind of profession do you work in?

The first step is to determine whether you are in a ‘regulated profession’ or an ‘unregulated profession’. 

Everyone in a regulated profession will need to have their qualifications validated. Those in unregulated professions will not need to take this step. 

There is no hard and fast list of what amounts to a regulated profession and what doesn’t.

Whether a profession is regulated or not can differ from canton to canton. 

How to apply for Swiss citizenship: An essential guide

Regulated professions include most jobs where people need to complete study or training in order to start work, including for instance healthcare professionals, teachers, butchers, lawyers, pilots and bus drivers. 

Unregulated professions include politicians, journalists, used car salesmen, self help gurus and plenty of other legitimate professions, although in some cases people wanting to do these jobs will need to provide documentation of the level of qualification they have received. 

Furthermore, while these professions may be unregulated, having some form of qualification is likely to assist you in the process of finding employment. 

An extensive list of the professions that are regulated can be found in English at the following link

How to have my qualifications recognised in a regulated profession

If your profession is deemed ‘regulated’, then you will need to contact the specific authority which regulates your profession. 

There are different peak bodies for different professions. If you work in the medical, pharmacy or veterinary sector, you will need to contact MEBEKO

If you are a nurse, you will need to contact the SRC

If you work in psychology, you will need to apply at the unfortunately named PsyCo

There are also specific fields for electricians (ESTI) and teachers and educators (EDK). 

If you work in architecture, engineering, childcare, vocational education or any other fields, you will need to contact SERI, the Swiss authority on these matters. 

More official information from the Swiss government is available in English at the following link

How much does it cost? 

The cost of the recognition varies depending on the agency doing the recognising, but this is estimated as between CHF150 and CHF1,000. 

Does it matter which country I come from?

Yes. If you come from the EU/EFTA countries, then this will likely be covered by the Swiss-EU Bilateral Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP). 

Pursuant to this arrangement, Switzerland has adopted the EU’s system of mutual recognition of professional qualifications. 

More information on this is available by contacting SERI, the Swiss authority on these matters. 

What about Brexit?

The UK’s decision to leave the EU, known as Brexit, does have an impact on the recognition of foreign degrees for British nationals. 

If you had your British qualifications recognised before January 1st, 2021, then this recognition will remain valid. 

After this time, your application will be processed in accordance with the Agreement on Free Movement of Persons. 

More information for UK citizens is available here from the UK government

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For members

LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Zurich legally

Got an unwanted mattress, fridge or sofa? Here’s how you can legally get it off your hands in Zurich.

How to dispose of unwanted furniture or whitegoods in Zurich legally

If you’ve bought a new piece of furniture in Zurich or a mattress, you may be faced with the problem of what to do with the old one. 

This is particularly the case in cities like Zurich, where space is at a premium and you may not be able to kit out your spare room with the old furniture. 

While there are waste disposal centres, even getting there without a car can be a problem. 

One man’s trash…

First things first, think about whether you really need to get rid of the thing in question. 

While you may not want it, there may be someone out there willing to take it off your hands – particularly if you aren’t going to charge them. 

The first point of call is to ask your friends and colleagues if they’re interested, with social media the perfect place to ask around. 

If you live in an apartment complex, you might try placing the item in a common area with a note saying “zu verschenken” (to give away) or ‘gratis’ (free). 

After that, there are several online options like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Free Your Stuff Zurich, Ricardo, Anibis, Craig’s List and Tutti. 

Some of these sites will charge a fee – even if you’re giving something away – so be sure to read the fine print first. 

Another option is to donate the goods to a charity organisation. They will usually charge you money to pick it up and prices can vary dramatically. 

Caritas charge CHF35 per 100kg plus transport costs, while Sozialwerk Pfarrer Sieber will pick up small items of furniture for a flat fee, although you’ll need to send them pictures first before they give you a quote. 

Can I put old furniture on the street in Zurich? 

Although less common than many other European cities, occasionally you will see furniture out on the street in front of homes and apartment blocks in Zurich. 

While it might clutter up the sidewalk, it is technically not illegal – provided you only do so for a maximum of 24 hours. 

You also need to make sure it doesn’t block cars, bikes or pedestrians. If it does – or if you leave it out for longer – you risk a fine.

Entsorgungstram: Zurich’s recycling and waste disposal tram

One option is the Entsorgungstram, a mobile recycling centre on rails for all Zurich residents. 

This tram weaves its way through several parts of Zurich, picking up old bulky waste including electrical devices and furniture. 

If you are lucky to live near an Entsorgungstram line, just check the timetable and bring your waste items along to meet the tram. 

There are some rules, as laid out by the Zurich council. 

“The delivered items must not be longer than 2.5 meters (exception: sofa/upholstered furniture can be no longer than 2 meters) and no heavier than 40 kilograms per item. Separate the material beforehand according to its composition: flammable, large metal and landfill”. 

Unfortunately, only pedestrians and cyclists can use this service, i.e. you cannot drive from elsewhere and deposit the stuff. 

More information including route details can be found at the following link. 

Regular waste disposal

Your next option is to see whether you can get rid of it in your usual waste disposal. 

This being Switzerland, there are a lot of rules about what the waste management company will take and will not. 

If you’re throwing away a mirror, for instance, you cannot put that with your other glass waste and will need to dispose of it elsewhere. 

On the other hand, they may take things like carpets and mattresses – although you’ll need to pay a bit extra. 

The exact rules will depend on your municipality, but generally speaking you will need to buy additional waste stickers – which cost money. 

In Zurich itself, every household receives four coupons for disposal of waste (up to 100kg) each. 

When you run out of coupons, you’ll need to pay by the kilo. 

You’ll still need to bring it to the waste disposal facility, or pay a pick up fee of around CHF80. 

This may sound steep, but they do come to your home and pick it up – which will likely be cheaper than a rental car or van. 

In Winterthur, you will need to buy stickers for CHF1.80 from the council, with each sticker letting you dispose of 10kg of waste. 

Check with the retailer where you bought the new item

One option offered by furniture sellers is to buy your old furniture or whitegoods or accept them as a trade in. 

While this is likely to be more common with second hand retailers who might see potential in your unwanted item, it is also a service offered by retailers who only sell new goods. 

One example is Ikea, who will take your old mattress, furniture or electronic device and recycle it. 

This service is available at Ikea outlets for a cost of CHF10 each. 

It is also available when you get something new delivered, although you must pre-book so the driver can be sure to set aside enough space. 

This will cost you CHF80 for furniture, or CHF50 for electronic devices and mattresses. Keep in mind that (at least with Ikea) this service is only available when you buy something new. 

Several other furniture companies offer a similar service, including Schubiger Möbel, Möbel Pfister and Conforama.  

Electrical item retails will often take your old electrical goods for recycling, whether these are small like iPhones or large like fridges and washing machines. 

More information about which goods can be recycled and how in Switzerland is available at the following link. 

Moving companies

Removalist companies are another option – whether you are moving house or not. 

If you are moving house then a disposal service may be included in the overall fees. 

If not, you can still contact the company and get the item taken off your hands. 

While different companies will charge different amounts, you’ll usually pay per 100kg rather than per item, which can be a better (or worse) option than contacting the local council. 

Swiss comparison site Comparis has detailed info about how to find a moving company here

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