Living in Switzerland For Members

EXPLAINED: Why you need to tell Swiss authorities where you live

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: Why you need to tell Swiss authorities where you live
No anonymity: when you move in Switzerland, you must let authorities know where you are. Photo by léa b on Unsplash

When you rent an apartment or buy a property in Switzerland, you will have to announce your arrival at your local municipality or commune. Here’s how to do this.


The 'address registration' rules may come as somewhat of a shock to people from some other places, like the United States, where you can move from one location to another and stay pretty much under the radar.

Not so in Switzerland. Swiss authorities want to know who is living in their country and where.

When you settle in a new home, you have 14 days to announce your arrival in your new commune of residence, though in some places the deadline may be longer.

In some cantons, you can do this procedure online, while in others you must come to your local residents' registration office (Einwohnerkontrolle / Contrôle des habitants/ Controllo abitanti) in person.


Whether you register online or in person, you will need the following documents:

  • A passport or ID card for each member of the family, in addition to a passport-sized photo for everyone
  • Documents about your family status — whether you are single, married, and with children.
  • Your work or residency permit 
  • Your lease contract or proof of home ownership

You must bring your documents with you when registering at the commune. Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

The rules are the same regardless of where you arrive from, i.e. if you are Swiss, an EU citizen or from abroad, however the supporting documentation may vary. 

Some cantons may require other or additional documents, which you can find out ahead of time on your commune or canton's website.

Once you register and pay a fee — which varies from one canton to another and depends on the type of work / residency permit you have — you can request a proof of residence document (Wohnsitzbescheinigungen/ Attestation de domicile / certificati di residenza), which you may need to show in some situations to prove your address.

The entire process will have to be repeated when you move to another home, even if you remain in the same commune. You will have to de-register your old address and register the new one.

Even when you leave Switzerland you are required to deregister. Those who do not deregister may face penalties should they return to Switzerland. 

What happens if you fail to do so?

Local authorities will find you anyway sooner or later — probably sooner — and impose a hefty fine on you, the amount of which will depend on the reason why you didn’t register in the first place.

READ MORE: The most essential pieces of paperwork you’ll need in Switzerland


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

BobbyJohn 2023/06/08 14:40
Despite the title of this article, it explains only what and how - not why. I don’t know why myself, but I suspect it goes back to Roman times. Certainly the requirement to register one’s residence (actually, one’s “stay” for more than a minimum period) applies in Italy, and in several other Continental European nations. Perhaps the writer could tell us “why” in a subsequent article!

See Also