Checklist for emigrating – preparing well for a new life abroad


Love, work, a thirst for adventure: there are many reasons for moving abroad. After all, Switzerland isn't the only place where life has much to offer. But moving to another country involves huge amounts of paperwork. The checklist shows you what you need to consider to make sure you have everything covered.

Moving abroad: ready for adventure

Whether it's for love, a special job or simply out of curiosity: there are many reasons for moving abroad. Some people have dreamed of emigrating for a long time, for others it's a logical consequence. Either way, moving your entire life abroad for several years – or maybe even forever – requires a lot of organisation up-front.

Health insurance is a key issue

If leaving Switzerland to live abroad, there are a number of organisational points that need to be tackled. You should pay particular attention to general health insurance and International Health Insurance as medical care can cost a lot of money at certain destinations – even if it doesn't always live up to our usual standard.

Health insurance abroad

If moving abroad to take up employment, you will generally be covered by the health insurance system in your new country. Depending on that cover, this could leave you in a precarious situation if you require emergency treatment as local healthcare facilities and standards may be inadequate. International Health Insurance can help prevent that.

Our tip: If you are already insured abroad and will return to Switzerland within the next three years, we advise you to suspend your supplementary insurance in Switzerland so that you can reactivate it upon your return.

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Swiss expats

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Worldwide protection thanks to International Health Insurance

Anyone who is moving abroad or employed abroad but would like to remain insured in Switzerland can take advantage of International Health Insurance. Cover is valid worldwide.

Get treatment in Switzerland

With International Health Insurance, you can still seek treatment in Switzerland if you fall seriously ill. Planning to return to Switzerland following your stay abroad? Then CSS will make you an offer for supplementary insurance without asking you to fill out another health declaration.

Insured abroad

Another option: you can also take out insurance abroad. However, check the insurance cover and benefits carefully and weigh up the pros and cons.

Secondment as a special case

It's different if you are seconded or posted abroad. As a rule, Swiss employees remain covered by their Swiss insurance.

Checklist for moving abroad

Naturally, there are many other important things to consider when it comes to relocating abroad. From budget planning and health insurance to deregistering in Switzerland, there's a lot to think about and take care of.

  • Deregistering: As a general rule: if going abroad for a longer period of time, giving up your accommoda­tion and not planning to return to Switzerland in the foreseeable future, you must unsubscribe. Check with the authorities where you live if you have to deregister after 3 or  12 months. 
  • Budget: If planning to emigrate, you'll need enough money to cover your initial costs. How much will depend on the cost of living at your chosen destination. You'll need at least CHF 50,000 to start a new life in the USA, but this can vary from state to state.
  • Entry: If planning to live and work in another country, you should ask that country's embassy for information about the rules for entry and residence that currently apply to Swiss citizens. Acquiring permanent residence rights may be difficult, depending on the country, and usually means procuring various documents.
  • Vaccinations: Many countries require arriving travellers to have certain vaccinations, and these must be documented in a WHO International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.
  • Taxes: If working and taking up residence abroad, you will generally be expected to pay taxes in that country.
  • Language: Speaking the local language has definite advantages. The better you're able to communicate, the more security and clarity you'll enjoy in your new situation.
  • Social security: Social security is a particularly important topic for people going to live abroad. Because transferring your residence abroad means losing the comprehensive insurance cover you enjoy in Switzerland. This makes it worth sitting down with a professional and going through all the relevant points regarding social insurance.
  • Occupational Benefit Plans: If taking up residence abroad, you're not entitled to have your accumulated AHV contributions paid out. However, you will get a pension once you reach regular retirement age, even if you live abroad. The same goes for Federal disability insurance. Pension funds are a different matter. You can have your retirement savings paid out if relocating abroad.
  • Insurance cover: You can take out international health and accident insurance from a number of Swiss general health insurance companies. Your insurance policy and insurance card are all you normally need to prove you're insured when abroad. Only a few countries require confirmation of insurance.
  • Support: The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), the FDFA (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs) and partners such as Soliswiss can help clear up any questions you may have.

Still not clear? Ask us

We'll be pleased to give you advice and information about all aspects of your insurance cover when moving abroad.

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