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Reader question: Does owning a second home in Switzerland give me the right to live there?

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Reader question: Does owning a second home in Switzerland give me the right to live there?
If you have a second home in Switzerland, does it give you rights to live there? Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

If you own a holiday home in Switzerland, what rights do you get? Here’s what you need to know.


For those who can afford it, Switzerland is a popular place for a second home. 

If you are lucky enough to have a second home in Switzerland - or if you are thinking about buying one - here’s what you need to know. 


What is the legal classification of ‘second home’ in Switzerland? 

Whether your home is a second home as per Swiss regulations will depend largely on what purposes it is used for. 

There are two categories of second homes in Switzerland: second homes and second places of residence. 

A second place of residence, as the name suggests, is a place where a person lives while working or studying but is not their primary residence. 

Technically speaking, second places of residence are not second homes. 

These are common, for instance, with cross-border workers whose primary residence may be in a neighbouring country but who have a place of residence near their work in Switzerland. 

For more information on cross-border workers buying property please check out the following link. 

READ MORE: Can cross-border workers buy property in Switzerland?

A second home for the purposes of the law is therefore a second residence which is not uses for work or study. 

The official government definition is as follows: 

“In Switzerland, a second home is a house or apartment that is neither used by a person who is resident in the commune concerned nor used for work or education purposes. Second homes are often used either as holiday homes or are rented to private tenants.”

More information about the rules relating to second homes is available here. 

READ MORE: How can I buy a second home in Switzerland?

Are there any restrictions on renting, selling or otherwise using a home that I own? 

If you have full ownership of a second home, you may sell, rent or otherwise use it as an owner could (subject of course to residency restrictions). 

Some countries have put in place restrictions on how much time second home owners can spend there, for instance Austria where second home owners in certain categories can only spend a maximum of five weeks in the property per year. 

In Switzerland however there are no such restrictions, although be aware that the rules might change if your second home is deemed your primary residence. 


Does owning a second home in Switzerland give me a right to live there? 

Unfortunately for non-citizens and non-residents, buying a home does not generally confer any additional rights with regard to residency. 

This is emphatically ruled out by the Swiss government. 

“Owning real estate in Switzerland does not confer any entitlement to a residence permit,” says the official guidance. 

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

If you are an EU citizen, then you will be able to live in Switzerland under freedom of movement rules. 

If you are an EU or EFTA national, you can also come to Switzerland and look for work for a period of up to three months without needing to obtain a permit. If your job hunt lasts longer than three months and you have sufficient funds, you can apply for a temporary residence permit that will allow you to continue looking for a further three months.

This can be extended for up to a year if there is sufficient evidence that your job hunt could be successful.

If you are not an EU citizen, then you will usually only be able to spend time in Switzerland under the 90/180 rule, with Switzerland being a part of the Schengen group of countries. 

This means that you can spend a maximum of 90 days in Switzerland out of 180 consecutive days. 

More information about residence permits in Switzerland is available at the following link. 

READ MORE: An essential guide to Swiss work permits



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