Reader question: Will my Swiss residency permit be valid after I retire?

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 11 Oct, 2022 Updated Tue 11 Oct 2022 15:40 CEST
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Many pensioners (like here, in Geneva) want to remain in Switzerland after they retire. Photo by Philippe Leone on Unsplash

If you have spent many years living and working in Switzerland, you may want to remain here once you retire. But can you do that?

You may have various reasons for wanting to stay in Switzerland rather than return to your home country when you stop working.

For instance, you may have family and close friends here, or just generally like living here. If so, you are not alone: a study carried out several years ago showed that Switzerland is second only to Norway as the best country to spend your retirement in.

The question is: can you retain your residency permit once you stop working?

The answer depends in part on the type of permit you hold and whether you have the financial means to continue living here without a regular salary. The latter criterium is meant to ensure that you will not seek social assistance.

If you have worked in Switzerland for many years, and receive your pension here, you should — at least in theory — be able to support yourself.


If, at the time of your retirement, you hold a C permit, you have the right to stay in Switzerland for as long as you want, or indefinitely, and not be subject to any time restrictions or conditions.

As for B permits, their validity ranges from one to five years, depending on whether you come from an EU /EFTA country or a third state.

If you are a five-year B permit holder and if you already know that you want to remain in Switzerland after retirement, look into your eligibility for a C permit and if you can get it before you stop working.

Holders of short-term permits like L are the least likely to be allowed to remain in Switzerland after retirement, unless they can prove that they are financially self-sufficient (see below).

Can the authorities refuse to extend your permit if you are retiring?

There is no general law regulating this matter.

It is more likely that they will look into your work history, see what pension scheme you have, and how much income you will receive once you retire.

If you are deemed to be sufficiently financially secure to continue living here without resorting to social help, then chances are good your permit will be renewed.

But this is decided on case-by-case basis.

What if you want to retire in Switzerland without ever having lived or worked here?

Switzerland is not only an enticing retirement destination for those who live there, but for people from all over the world. 

And the government is willing to make exceptions when the price is right. 

According to State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), “Retirees wishing to settle down in Switzerland must provide proof that they have sufficient financial means ensuring that they do not become dependent on the Swiss social security benefits. They must also have adequate health insurance coverage".

READ MORE : EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Switzerland

So how much income should you have to retire in Switzerland?

A 2021 analysis by UBS bank found that while still working, a person over the age of 50 in Switzerland must set aside 14 percent of their income to live comfortably in retirement.

In this respect, Switzerland scores better than its neighbours, the study found.

Italians must put aside 28 percent of their money for their retirement, Germans 30 percent, and the French 44.

In the United States, people must save 42 percent of their income to live comfortably after they retire.

READ MORE : Health, prices, and safety: Is Switzerland a good country to retire in?



Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2022/10/11 15:40

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