Do I, as a foreign national, need Swiss health insurance?

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Blog series “Your questions – our answers”:
You live in – or have just moved to – Switzerland? But do you need to have health insurance here as well? Our expert answers your questions.

In Switzerland, like in most European countries, health insurance is compulsory. In short: Anyone who lives or works in Switzerland is required by law to take out basic insurance with a Swiss health insurance fund. This also applies to foreign nationals, as soon as they are issued with a residence permit for three months or longer. The insurance obligation also applies to any other members of the same family who have moved to Switzerland.

Three-month period of grace for registration

Foreign nationals who have moved to Switzerland have three months in which to take out basic insurance at a health insurance fund of their choice. Both the period of grace and the insurance cover take effect on the day of registration at the residents' registration office. The compulsory basic health insurance provides for basic cover in the event of illness, accident or pregnancy. However, there are many treatments and costs that are not covered by this basic insurance. Anyone who requires financial contributions for glasses, fitness club subscriptions, dental treatment or complementary medicine should consider taking out supplementary health insurance.

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Rules for cross-border commuters

Special provisions apply to cross-border commuters who regularly return to their country of residence: They can choose whether to take out insurance in Switzerland or in the country in which they live. Their decision must be communicated to the Swiss authorities within three months. Cross-border commuters who fail to do so are automatically assigned to a Swiss health insurer.


Certain other foreign nationals are also exempt from the obligation to take out health insurance: Pensioners who are receiving a pension from an EU or EFTA country, employed persons who work in an EU/EFTA country, students who are living in Switzerland temporarily and the staff of international organizations, embassies and consulates do not require Swiss health insurance.

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