Health insurance: Workers on short-term assignments in Switzerland

People resident abroad who work in Switzerland for a short period of time must take out Swiss health insurance. However, certain exceptions apply, depending on the country of residence and nationality or the type of work permit held. 

EU/EFTA workers: place-of-work principle

In 2002, the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons with the EU (AFMP) and the EFTA Convention have made it possible to harmonize the social security systems. Accordingly, the requirement to obtain health insurance is based on the place-of-work principle. Anyone working in Switzerland, as well as non-working family members, is required to take out Swiss health insurance.

This rule applies to the following workers from EU/EFTA countries:

  • Holders of a short-term residence permit (L permit)
  • People who are working in Switzerland for a maximum of three months and do not require a residence permit for this period (notification procedure), unless they have an equivalent private insurance policy covering treatment in Switzerland. Exceptions can apply for workers domiciled in Germany, Austria, France and Italy who regularly return to their country of domicile (at least once a week). See note on option right in “Cross-border commuters in Switzerland”.

Exceptions may apply for workers resident in Germany, Austria, France and Italy who regularly return to their country of residence (at least once a week). See the explanation of the option of obtaining insurance in the country of residence under “Cross-border commuters working in Switzerland”.

Beginning and end of compulsory health insurance

EU/EFTA nationals not requiring a residence permit (because they are working for less than three months) are required to take out Swiss health insurance from the date their employment contract begins. If they fail to do so, they can be automatically assigned to a health insurer, with a policy commencing on the date their employment began.
Insurance cover generally ends on the day the worker’s employment ends, but at the latest on the date of his or her departure from Switzerland or death.


EU/EFTA nationals holding an L permit valid for more than three months are subject to compulsory health insurance from the date on which they report to the Residents’ Registration Office. They have three months in which to register with a Swiss health insurer. If they fail to do so, they can be automatically assigned to a health insurer; if the delay is not justifiable, they will be liable to a premium surcharge for late registration. They will also be required to cover the costs of any medical treatment received prior to enrolment themselves.

Insurance cover generally ends on the worker’s departure date reported to the Residents’ Registration Office, but at the latest on his or her actual date of departure from Switzerland or death. 

Workers from other countries (outside the EU/EFTA)

Third-country nationals (from outside the EU/EFTA) with a short-term residence permit or a residence permit valid for at least three months are required to take out Swiss health insurance.

This requirement also applies to foreign workers whose residence permit is valid for less than three months (such as seasonal workers), unless they have an equivalent policy covering treatment in Switzerland.

Beginning and end of insurance

Holders of an L permit valid for more than three months are subject to compulsory health insurance from the date on which they report to the Residents’ Registration Office. They have three months in which to register with a Swiss health insurer. If they fail to do so, they can be automatically assigned to a health insurer; if the delay is not justifiable, they will be liable to a premium surcharge for late registration. They will also be required to cover the costs of any medical treatment received prior to enrolment themselves.

Holders of an L permit valid for less than three months are subject to compulsory health insurance from the date on which they enter Switzerland. If they fail to take out insurance, they can be automatically assigned to a health insurer.

Insurance cover generally ends on the worker’s departure date reported to the Residents’ Registration Office, but at the latest on his or her actual date of departure from Switzerland or death.

Workers active in more than one country

Swiss or EU nationals simultaneously pursuing self-employed or employed activities either in more than one EU/EFTA country or in Switzerland and in one or more EU/EFTA countries are subject to the legislation of a single country. For more information, see “Workers in the EU or EFTA - Simultaneous employed activities in the EU/EFTA or Switzerland”

In Switzerland, the AHV compensation offices are responsible for deciding on liability to social insurance; their decision is also applicable to health insurance. Workers active in more than one country should therefore contact the relevant AHV compensation office.

Further information

Health insurance: Cross-border commuters working in Switzerland

In general, cross-border commuters are required to take out Swiss health insurance. Some exceptions apply, depending on the employee’s country of residence and nationality.

Health insurance: Workers in the EU or EFTA

Health insurance obligations for persons who are resident in Switzerland and work in an EU/EFTA country or pursue multiple activities.

Health insurance: EU/EFTA premiums and premium subsidies

Persons insured in Switzerland pay the EU/EFTA premiums applicable for their country of residence. Those on low incomes are entitled to premium subsidies.

Treatment abroad for policyholders resident abroad

Persons insured in Switzerland and resident abroad are entitled to be treated in the country where they are staying or residing, or in Switzerland.

Last modification 09.04.2021

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Contact

Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Health and Accident Insurance Directorate
Section Legal Supervision of Health Insurance
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157
3003 Berne
Switzerland
Tel. +41 58 462 21 11
E-mail

Print contact

https://www.bag.admin.ch/content/bag/en/home/versicherungen/krankenversicherung/krankenversicherung-versicherte-mit-wohnsitz-im-ausland/versicherungspflicht/kurzarbeitende-ch.html