Swiss citizenship For Members

Do I need to earn a good wage to qualify for Swiss citizenship?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Do I need to earn a good wage to qualify for Swiss citizenship?
You do need money to get Swiss citizenship, but it is based on various criteria. Photo: PIxabay

A Swiss passport comes with many rules attached to it, but is good income one of the conditions for naturalisation in Switzerland?


Though some countries, like Sweden and Germany, have a minimum salary threshold for work permits and / or citizenships, Switzerland doesn’t have such a regulation in place.

But while no specific income amounts are set, the law stipulates that candidates for naturalisation must “have sufficient financial resources.”

What exactly this means in an expensive country like Switzerland is not defined at either the federal or cantonal level.

However, this is taken to mean that a candidate for naturalisation must have sufficient financial means (salary and / or other assets) to live in Switzerland without resorting to social aid.

This threshold is obviously higher in expensive areas like Zurich and the Lake Geneva region than, say, in Appenzell.

READ ALSO: Why it's easier to become Swiss if you're wealthy

In deciding whether you have sufficient financial resources, a naturalisation committee will look at your (individual or household) income, tax returns, and whether you have any debt proceedings against you.

If you do, that’s a red flag that you are not able to manage your money — and are therefore not integrated enough to merit the Swiss passport.

The same applies to foreign nationals who retire in Switzerland — they must be able to support themselves on whatever pension and other income they receive.

So the bottom line is not how much you earn, but how well you manage to support yourself on the money you do have.


What about wage thresholds for permits?

Here again, unlike some other countries in Europe, Switzerland doesn’t impose any minimum limits.

The country suffers from the shortage of workers, so whoever gets a permit to work in Switzerland — whether from the EU / EFTA (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein), or from third countries, will earn a salary for however long they are employed in Switzerland.

There is, however, one situation when you will have to provide proof of your assets in order to receive a residency permit.

READ ALSO: Is it true you have to be rich to get a Swiss passport?

Golden visas

If you come from a non-EU /EFTA state and  want to settle in Switzerland (but not work here), you can do so, but only if you are super-rich.

The Swiss are very pragmatic people, especially when it comes to making money.

A little known (except to the financially astute) and rarely used Article 30 of the Federal Aliens Act sets out derogations from the regular, strict admission requirements.

It enables foreigners from third countries to move to Switzerland — but only if they are sufficiently wealthy to live here without having to work or receive welfare benefits.

The law states that in cases of “important public interests” — that is, plenty of money in public coffers— cantons can grant citizens of third countries permissions to settle on their territories with a B residence permit.


What does 'sufficiently wealthy' actually mean in Switzerland?

Obviously, the sky’s the limit and the amounts depend on where in the country you want to live.

But just as an indication, 'buying' your way into the residency permit in Geneva costs roughly 312,522 francs in tax revenue per year, 415,000 in Vaud, and 287,882 in Valais.

Add to this a fee you would have to pay a specialised relocation attorney — reportedly at least 50,000 francs — to negotiate a lump-sum tax agreement for you with authorities of the canton where you would like to live.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about ‘buying’ Swiss residency



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