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EXPLAINED: When and how should you renew your Swiss residence permit?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: When and how should you renew your Swiss residence permit?
Two flag throwers walk past carrying Swiss national flags during the first day of the Federal Alpine Wrestling Festival on August 27, 2016 in Payerne, western Switzerland. - More than 200.000 spectators are expected over the week-end to view top Swiss wrestlers competing in the traditional ring of sand, during the festival which comprises of other tradtional alpine games. (Photo by VALERIANO DI DOMENICO / AFP)

If you are a foreign national living in Switzerland, your work/residence permit is a very important document as it entitles you to stay and work in the country. This is what you should know about renewing it when it expires.


Depending on the kind of permit you have, it may have to be renewed each year or only after five years of residency.

In either case, you should be aware of the deadlines and procedures for extension, but the process is fairly simple.

Typically, you will receive a letter from local authorities approximately six weeks before the deadline reminding you to renew. There will also be an application form that you will need to fill out.

It must be submitted to your commune of residence no earlier than three months and no later than two weeks prior to the expiration date.

You will need to present your residence permit and passport, which must remain valid for at least three months after the date of permit’s expiration.

The cost of renewal varies from one commune to another and is determined by the kind of permit you have.

READ MORE: What you need to know about getting a Swiss work permit


It all sounds pretty painless, but wait

In 2019, Switzerland enforced new rules making the granting of a permit, as well as its renewal, dependent on the applicant’s integration into Swiss society.

Among prerequisites for obtaining and retaining a permit is proficiency in the language of the region where the applicant lives, though people whose native tongues are German, French, or Italian are exempted from this rule.

Other requirements pertain to  good behaviour and respect of law, order, and Switzerland’s values in general.

Those who don’t meet this criteria could have their permits revoked or not renewed.

What happens if you don’t renew your permit in time?

That would fall under the category of “bad luck”.

The authorities could take special circumstances, such as serious illness, debilitating accident, or another extreme situation into consideration and make an exception, but you shouldn’t count on that.

Basically, if you let your permit lapse, you will lose your right to live and work in Switzerland.

The best you could hope for is to remain here as a tourist for no longer than 90 days within any 180-day period.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Five things you need to do when you move to Switzerland



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