Moving to the UK from Switzerland

Relocating from Switzerland to the UK

According to recent figures, the number of Swiss nationals living in the UK continues to increase year on year. In 2023, it is estimated that there were 42,600 Swiss citizens resident in the UK and Ireland, an increase of 800 from 2022. If you are considering moving from Switzerland to England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, or any other part of the United Kingdom, whether for work, study, business or to join your family, this guide is for you. We will explain the legal requirements for Swiss people moving to the UK after Brexit, the cost of living in the UK, and how this compares to Switzerland. We will also provide a checklist for Swiss nationals moving to the UK. We will also provide some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about relocating from Switzerland to the UK.

Moving from Switzerland to the UK after Brexit

At the end of 2020, the UK formally left the European Union, ending the free movement of people between it and the EU. While Switzerland is not a member of the EU, because of the EU-Swiss Free Movement of Persons Agreement (FMOPA), Swiss nationals were able to live, work and travel to the UK freely, which no longer applies in the UK. The UK and Switzerland subsequently entered into a new Swiss Citizen’s Rights Agreement, which gave Swiss nationals and their family members living in the UK by the end of 2020 the right to continue to stay in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). If you were living in the UK as a Swiss national before 11pm GMT on the 31st December 2020, you may still be able to apply for pre-settled or settled status under the EUSS if you have a valid reason for making a late application. If you were not living here before this time, you will need a visa to live, work, study, or join your family members in the UK.

While applying for a visa may sound intimidating and laborious, with the support of a specialist in UK immigration law, the process can be completed easily and efficiently.

Moving to the UK from Switzerland benefits

While Switzerland is a beautiful country with much to offer, the UK can also be said to be beautiful. The UK has a strong and dynamic economy offering a wide variety of highly skilled and well-paid jobs. The business opportunities in the UK are also considerable, with a great deal of support available and relatively little in the way of administration and ‘red tape’. Beyond the economic opportunities for Swiss nationals, we have a rich history and culture and wonderful villages, mountains, hills, lakes, and countryside. The UK is also world-renowned for its excellent education system, including universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, St Andrews, and University College London (UCL). And when it comes time to return home to visit friends and family in Switzerland, we also have excellent transport links to mainland Europe by ferry, train, and plane.

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How to set up your finances in the UK?

The UK offers an excellent, modern and digital banking system. It is advisable to wait until you have made the move from Switzerland to the UK before you set up a new UK bank account. This is because UK banks will require proof of your identity in the form of your passport and your permanent UK address.

Other financial considerations include National Insurance and tax. You must apply for a National Insurance (NI) number before you start earning money in the UK. Thankfully, tax is very simple in the UK, with any tax you owe to HM Revenue & Customs being automatically deducted from your pay by your employer through the UK’s ‘Pay As You Earn’ (PAYE) system. If you are self-employed, you will need to prepare and submit a self-assessment tax return each year.

The legal requirements for Swiss citizens moving to the UK will depend on the type of visa you are applying for, as explained below.

UK Skilled Worker visa

The UK Skilled Worker visa enables Swiss nationals to work in the UK for a period of up to 5 years for a sponsoring British employer. This visa also provides a route to permanent settlement (after 5 years) and British citizenship (after a further year). As a Skilled Worker visa applicant from Switzerland, you must first have a job offer for an eligible occupation from an approved UK employer. In addition, you must meet the minimum salary requirement of £38,700 per year or the ‘going rate’ for the type of work you will be doing. A salary lower threshold applies if you have a PhD, a job on the UK government’s immigration salary list, or a new entrant to the job market. Finally, you must meet the English language requirement, normally by passing an English language exam.

UK Student visa

The UK Student visa enables Swiss citizens to study full-time in the UK with an approved university, college, or school. You must be aged 16 or over and have been offered a place on a course by a licensed education provider. You must have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course, and be able to speak, read, write and understand English to the required standard.

UK Innovator Founder

The UK Innovator Founder visa is a business visa that enables Swiss business people and entrepreneurs to come to the UK to set up and run a new, unique, viable, and scalable company. It offers an accelerated route to permanent settlement of 3 years rather than the standard 5 years that applies to most visa types.

To qualify, you must have a business idea that has been endorsed by an approved body in the UK, be 18 years or older, meet the English language requirements for this route, and have sufficient savings to support yourself and your dependants while you get your business off the ground.

Please note that the above visa types represent just a small selection of all UK visa routes available to citizens of Switzerland. To better understand the visas available, please speak to an experienced immigration Solicitor in the UK who can further assess your situation, plans, and goals and recommend the best route for you and your family.

Get in touch with our immigration experts for help with your move to the UK from Switzerland

What is the cost of living in the UK?

There is little doubt that the cost of living in the UK is much cheaper than in Switzerland. According to the latest figures provided by the cost of living website Numbeo, prices in the UK are around 70% less than in Switzerland. Restaurant prices in the UK are approximately 60% cheaper than in Switzerland, and grocery prices are around half the price in the UK.

Emigrating to the UK from Switzerland - Checklist

  • Fully understand your immigration options and those of your dependants by speaking to a UK immigration Solicitor
  • Get an offer of a job and a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a licenced UK employer – this must be done before applying for a work visa
  • Draft a comprehensive and realistic budget detailing your income and living costs in the UK
  • Visit the UK before you move to narrow down where you would like to live
  • Work out your total moving costs, including transport, removal costs, and rent deposit, etc.
  • Research the schools in your preferred area in the UK and check if they have spaces for your children
  • Speak to any Swiss nationals living in the UK for advice and tips on moving here
  • Swiss / UK Driving licence - According to the rules, you can drive in the UK for 12 months on your Swiss driving licence before needing to exchange it for a UK version.

What is a Self-Sponsored Route?

Self-Sponsorship offers a way for Swiss nationals to move to the UK with their family members without the need for a job. Instead, they can set up their own business in the UK (this is something we can guide you through) and work for themselves. In addition, self-sponsored Swiss nationals can eventually gain permanent settlement and, after 12 months, British citizenship.

Emigrating to the UK as a non-Swiss national

If you are a non-Swiss national who wishes to move to the UK, you will most likely need to apply for a visa in the same way as a Swiss national. The options available to you will depend on your nationality, your links to the UK, and your plans for life in the UK. To discuss the immigration routes open to you as a non-Swiss national, please speak to one of our friendly and insightful immigration Solicitors in the UK.

Joining UK Family Members as a Non-Swiss National

If you are a non-Swiss national who wishes to join family members in the UK, such as your partner, spouse, parent or child, you will most likely need to apply for a UK family visa. To qualify for a family visa, you must have a family member living in the UK who is either a British citizen, a person with permanent settlement, an EU/EEA national who started living in the UK before 1st January 2021, or has refugee status in the UK. The family visa also provides a route to permanent settlement after 5 years and British citizenship one year later.

FAQ’s

What documents and information do I need to move to the UK?

You will need to bring your valid Swiss passport, evidence of your job offer, your visa, and bank statements showing that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your immediate family members. Your immigration Solicitor will explain all of the documents that you will need to move to the UK.

How long can a Swiss citizen stay in the UK?

In most cases, Swiss nationals can visit the UK for up to 6 months without the need for a visa. To stay longer, Swiss nationals need to apply for a visa. Work visas last up to 5 years and provide a route to permanent settlement. Student visas typically last for the duration of the course, but holders can then apply for a Graduate visa to stay in the UK for a further 2 years to find work.

Do Swiss citizens need sponsorship to work in the UK?

Yes, if you wish to apply for a work visa in the UK as a Swiss national, you must be sponsored by a UK employer. Alternatively, you can consider the self-sponsorship route.

What should I consider before moving back to the UK from Switzerland?

Before moving back from Switzerland to the UK, it is important to consider your employment, banking arrangements, establishing a credit rating, selling your property, and your tax arrangements. If you have lived in Switzerland for more than 5 years, you may need to meet different rules for income and capital gains tax. We also recommend checking whether you will need to ‘top up’ your national insurance contributions so that you are eligible for a UK state pension when you reach retirement age.

Moving from Switzerland to the UK requirements

Please see the legal requirements for moving from Switzerland to the UK above.

Can you move to the UK from Switzerland?

Yes, however, Swiss citizens and their family members require a visa to live in the UK. Please see the visa options explained above.

Are Swiss citizens allowed to work in the UK?

Absolutely, but they require a job offer from a sponsoring employer, a certificate of sponsorship, and a work visa granted by the UK Home Office.

Applying for a UK visa from Switzerland

Swiss nationals can apply for a UK visa online through the UK Home Office website. You will need to complete the application form, pay any required fees, and submit any documents required to support your case. You will also need to meet the requirements for the type of visa you are applying for. An immigration Solicitor in the UK can handle this process for you.

UK entry requirements from Switzerland

Please see the legal requirements for moving from Switzerland to the UK above.

What is the cost of living in the UK?

Please see the cost of living section above.

Moving Back to the UK from Switzerland: Why are British ex-pats leaving Switzerland?

The main reason is the ending of free movement following Brexit. The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) between Switzerland and the EU ceased to exist on 1st January 2021. UK nationals can now only spend 90 days in EU and EFTA countries in any 180-day period. British ex-pats are also returning for work opportunities or to be with family members.

A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at contact us today. We’re here to help!

Moving From Switzerland to the UK

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Moving From Switzerland to the UK

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