The Swiss government has decided to modify the format of certain categories of work and residence permits for foreigners living and/or working in Switzerland. In this blog, we look at this recent development.

Previously, some permits such as work and residence permits for EU/EFTA citizens came as paper IDs with a passport picture of the permit holder glued onto them and tucked in a plastic envelope about twice the size of a regular credit card.

This has changed: Beginning, November 1, 2019, freshly issued permits of some permit types have begun to be replaced by regular credit card-sized plastic permits containing the biometric data of the permit holder.

The change affects the following permit categories:

  • EU/EFTA citizens (L, B, C Permits)
  • Cross-border commuters (G-Permits, all nationalities)
  • Working spouses and children of members of foreign representations and international organisations (Ci-Permits)
  • Asylum seekers during the asylum procedure (N Permits)
  • Temporarily admitted asylum seekers (F Permits)
  • Persons in need of protection (S Permits)

Cantons will have time until mid-2021 to implement these changes on their own. The first confirmed cantons implementing the changes are the Cantons of Thurgau, Geneva, and Zurich. Thurgau and Geneva are leading the way and began issuing the new permit format beginning on November 1, 2019. Geneva will only implement the new format for EU citizens applying for an L Permit for now, while Thurgau will issue all new L, B, C and G Permits in the new format. Zurich, on the other hand, will adopt the new format for all of the above-listed permit types from February 1, 2020.

How the new format of work and residence permits impact applicants

For the affected permit applicants this means that they will need to have their biometric data taken in order for the permit to be issued. Previously, this process was only applicable for non-EU nationals with B and long-term L permits – with this change all of the above-mentioned permit holders will need to complete the biometric data collection to obtain their permit. This data collection can be completed together with local registration or at a separate appointment, depending on the canton.

Read more on this topic here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.