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Welcome Centre

The ZHAW Welcome Centre provides information on living and working in Switzerland for people from other countries who wish to work at the ZHAW.

About 3,000 people from 49 countries work at the ZHAW. Perhaps you’ll soon be one of these people? Our sites in Winterthur, Zurich and Wädenswil offer a high quality of life and great cultural and social diversity. As is the case everywhere in Switzerland, you can be out in the country in no time! The nearest forest, river or lake is never far away – and you can be in the mountains in no time at all as well. All three of our sites are in the economically strong «Greater Zurich Area» and are extremely well connected in terms of public transport.

The ZHAW is one of the leading universities of applied sciences in Switzerland. Teaching, research, continuing education and other services are both scientifically-based and practice-oriented. Our Schools carry out both disciplinary and interdisciplinary research – often with partners from industry, business or the public domain.

Our qualified, motivated and performance-oriented managers and staff, many of whom come from other countries, are very important to us. The following information has been compiled for people coming to Switzerland from other countries to work for us.


Moving to Switzerland

Allow plenty of time to look for accommodation. It is not unusual to require several weeks to find a place to stay.

Living in Switzerland

In Winterthur, there are modern, well-equipped flats for incoming staff. These flats are close to the centre and can be rented for a minimum period of two weeks and for a maximum of six months.

Arrival in Switzerland

Registration in Switzerland

When you arrive in Switzerland, you must register with the municipality where you are living within 14 days of your move. The registration has to take place before the start of work. The documents required for registration may vary slightly from municipality to municipality. There is a registration fee. Please send a copy of the residence permit to Human resources as soon as you receive it. Our HR department will be happy to provide support here.

Permits in Switzerland

To work at the ZHAW, you must have a work and residence permit, which is granted on the basis of your planned professional activity and of the country from which you come.

Living in Switzerland

Language courses

The School of Applied Linguistics at the ZHAW offers course in «German as a Foreign Language».

The Swiss educational system

Depending on the level, the school system in Switzerland is organised municipally, cantonally or federally. At Educa, you can find information on the Swiss educational System.

Cultural integration

Integration takes place at many levels. As well as in your work, you have many other possibilities to familiarise yourself with your new environment and to make new contacts.

Ask in your municipality about integration arrangements where you live. Many of these apply specially to children and families.

Leisure activities

The ZHAW offers its employees various leisure activities. A wide range of sports are on offer, as well as a choir, a theatre group, various after-work gatherings, a modern University Library, inexpensive canteens, reductions in some restaurants and shops, childcare and various counselling services. In addition, the Schools have further arrangements.

You will also be able to meet people in your municipality, through libraries or family and cultural centres. Joining a sports or cultural club offers another opportunity to meet people. About half of the Swiss population are active in clubs (Vereine). Ask in your municipality for a list of clubs (Vereinsliste). You will be amazed at what a wide range there is!


Both road and rail networks in Switzerland are excellent. It is often quicker to use public transport than to drive.

Insurance and taxes


Foreign nationals who do not have a C-permit will be taxed at source. In this case, tax will be taken directly from your salary every month. The employer then passes these taxes on to the relevant tax authorities in Switzerland.

Foreign nationals with a C-permit will be taxed, just as Swiss nationals are, at three levels. Federal income tax, firstly, is according to a uniform tax rate. The 26 cantons and the municipalities then also levy taxes, on income and on wealth. Tax rates vary from canton to canton and from municipality to municipality, so the level of taxation depends on where the tax-payer lives.

Social insurance

Swiss retirement provision is based on the three-pillar principle. Pillar 1 consists of Old age and Survivors’ Insurance (AHV), Invalidity Insurance (IV), as well as supplementary benefits (for situations where pensions and income do not cover the basic cost of living). The 1st pillar is compulsory and should cover basic living expenses. Pillar 2 consists of an occupational pension (pension fund), which is also compulsory. The 3rd pillar is a voluntary private pension. All ZHAW employees have pillars 1 and 2.

All employees have to have a social security number (AHV-Nummer). The ZHAW has to report this number for all its employees. If you do not yet have such a number, the ZHAW will apply for it at the Central Compensation Office.

Health insurance

Health insurance is compulsory for all people living in Switzerland. The health insurance companies are obliged to accept everyone unconditionally and immediately for the compulsory basic insurance. You can choose your insurer from a wide range of companies. Compulsory basic insurance is regulated by law and it includes the same benefits no matter which company you go to. It is worthwhile comparing premiums, since they can differ substantially.

Health insurance is taken out on a private basis and you must register at the latest three months after taking up residence in Switzerland. In addition, people who reside outside Switzerland but have a Swiss residence permit for longer than three months, as well as cross-border commuters, must have health insurance too.

It is only possible to be exempted from taking out health insurance in very few cases and an application must be submitted. The municipality of residence is responsible for making sure that residents abide by the compulsory health insurance regulations. The Health Department of the Canton of Zurich decides whether people may be exempted from this obligation.

It is also up to the individual employee to take out medical daily benefits insurance.

Accident insurance

In Switzerland, all people who are staying in the country for more than three months must have Accident insurance. A distinction is made between Occupational and Non-Occupational Accident insurance.

Occupational Accident insurance

Occupational Accident insurance is compulsory for all employees with a salary subject to social security deductions. Occupational Accident insurance covers treatment costs and provides daily allowances. In addition, in the case of disability due to an accident, it provides pensions and, if the person insured dies, it provides support for surviving dependants.

Non-Occupational Accident insurance

Non-Occupational Accident insurance covers the financial consequences of accidents that happen outside worktime. If you have an employment contract for at least eight hours per week, then you are covered through the ZHAW if you have an accident in your free time. Additional voluntary insurance is also possible.

Liability and Household insurance

Private Liability and Household insurance are basically not compulsory in Switzerland but are to be recommended. They provide insurance against financial loss if you are liable for damage if you have injured another person, or if you have damaged another person’s property.

Household insurance covers household damage due to fire, water, theft or glass breakage. It is often combined with private Liability insurance.