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Recognising foreign qualifications

A receptionist takes a document out of a drawer

One of the headaches of relocating is trying to get your foreign professional qualifications recognised in the new country. Many jobs in Switzerland are subject to regulation and, in these cases, some paperwork is required before you may begin working.

Under the Free Movement of Persons agreement with the EU, Switzerland has adopted the EU’s system of mutual recognition of professional qualifications. But there is still a procedure to go through. Nationals from outside the EU may also apply for recognition of their foreign qualifications in Switzerland.

The first step is to confirm whether your job is regulated in Switzerland. In non-regulated occupations and professions, a foreign qualification is sufficient to enter the labour market.

Some occupations are regulated by the cantons while others are federally regulated. A full list of regulated professions is available at the end of the page on this linkexternal link

Those wishing to stay in Switzerland to work in a regulated profession for longer than 90 days have to get recognition of their qualifications from the relevant authority in the form of a recognition certificate (equivalency). This list of agenciesexternal link responsible for recognition of foreign qualifications is provided by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), the national contact point for the recognition of professional qualifications in Switzerland.

Currently there are no quotas in place for migrant workers from the EU, though Swiss employers are obliged to give priority to Swiss residents when hiring certain professions. More info for EU nationals is available hereexternal link.

Switzerland also makes available about 8,500 B and L work permits to people from outside the EU, so-called third state nationals. Cantonal authorities are responsible for issuing these permits which require a guaranteed work contract from an employer with work visa before entering the country. More information hereexternal link

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