Living in Switzerland For Members

Reader question: How long should I keep documents in Switzerland — and which ones?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Reader question: How long should I keep documents in Switzerland — and which ones?
Sorting though all that will take time. Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

As you surely know by now, living in Switzerland generates a lot of paperwork. If you are not sure for how long you should keep your records, this guide will help you.


The last thing you want, especially if you live in a small dwelling, is to keep piles of papers in your house.

Some people are natural hoarders: they hold on to every scrap of paper as though their life depended on it.

Others are just the opposite — they toss out everything they consider to be useless, so as not to clutter and cramp their living space with unnecessary things.

Then, there are those who don’t fit into either extreme, but keep only the essential bits of paperwork — just in case they are ever needed.

If you are not sure what you should keep in Switzerland, and for how long, this guide, recommended by Credit Agricole bank, will help.

Two years: 

Proofs of purchase of big-ticket items

Warranties (unless valid for longer)

Five years: 

Tax declarations

Social insurance documents

Child support/alimony payments

10 years: 

This is the legal limitation period for documents (meaning you will not be asked to show proofs after this period of time), unless provisions to the contrary exist - such as the ones below:

20 years:

Declarations of insolvency

For lifetime:

ID card/passport

Your first-pillar state pension card (AHV, AVS)

Work certificates

Driving licence

Contracts still in force (for instance, rental agreement, health insurance card, proof of house ownership).


This does sound like a lot of paperwork, but you can create electronic versions of each document, and back them up for safety.

Alternatively, you can rent a safe deposit box at your bank and keep all your important papers there.

READ ALSO: What’s the safest place to keep my valuables in Switzerland? 

The above guidelines apply to anyone living in Switzerland. But are there any special requirements of foreign residents?

In addition to most of the ones mentioned above (taxes, as well as health and social insurance, for example), you will also need to keep, for the term of their validity:

Work permit

Whether your permit is valid for a year (L), five years (B), or indefinitely (C), make sure you keep it in a safe place for as long as it is in force.


Proof of residency

When you move into your house or apartment, you will need to register with your local commune within 14 days of arrival. The office in charge of registrations is called Einwohnerkontrolle/Contrôle des habitants/Controllo abitanti.

You will be issued a document showing where you live. (Wohnsitzbescheinigungen/Attestation de domicile/certificati di residenza).
Keep this for as long as you reside at that address; when you move, you should start the process all over again.


If you bring your pet to Switzerland with you, you will need to have the pet’s identification (microchip), pet ID card, valid certificate of vaccinations, and blood test.

More information on bringing pets to Switzerland, and what conditions you should be aware of, can be found here.

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




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