Work permits For Members

How long can I leave Switzerland for without losing my work permit?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
How long can I leave Switzerland for without losing my work permit?
Put your permit on hold before you leave. Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

If you are planning to leave Switzerland for a while, it is good to ensure that being out of the country won't affect your residency and working rights. This is what you should know.


Even if you permanently live and work in Switzerland, you may want to leave the country for a period of time to work, study, or just travel around.

If you have Swiss citizenship this is of course not a problem, but if you are not a citizen then long periods away can affect your residency.

L, B, or C?

How long you can actually live abroad depends on what kind of Swiss permit you hold.

Anyone with a short-term residence permit L can leave the country for no longer than three months.

However, be careful, as these permits are usually granted for up to a year, and the three months is a total period - so for example if you travel a lot for work you need to keep a count and make sure you haven't exceeded 90 days (three months) in total. 


You have more leeway with residence permits B and C: you can stay out for up to six months a year.

Of the two, the C, which is granted to permanent or ‘settled’ foreigners, gives their holders more sweeping rights, including in regards to staying abroad.

For instance, if you plan to leave the country for more than six months (but not longer than four years), then you have the option of putting the permit ‘on hold’ - this is especially useful for people who want to study at a non-Swiss university.

You must request this suspension from your cantonal authorities in writing, explaining the reasons why you plan to remain abroad for a longer-than-permitted period of time.

If you simply leave for more than six months without ‘freezing’ your permit, then it will expire in due time, and you will have to re-apply for it under the usual admission conditions.

Notify the canton

If you decide to leave, don’t just pack your bags and sneak out like a thief in the middle of the night.

You must notify the local Population Office ((Einwohnerkontrolle / Contrôle des habitants/ Controllo abitanti) of your departure and fill out any required paperwork.


What about holders of permit S?

Given exclusively to Ukrainians who have fled the war in their country, this special status allows refugees to travel abroad "if the trip does not exceed 90 days within a period of 180 days", according to State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

As far as travel to Ukraine, it should not exceed 15 days per quarter, or SEM may "revoke temporary protection status in Switzerland".

READ MORE: Nine things you need to know about work permits in Switzerland


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