But the process of becoming an expat isn't always easy and can be daunting when you don't know the steps to take.
Here are 11 things Americans should do before making the big move to Switzerland.
1. Obtain a residence permit and submit your documents to your embassy.
The first two things Americans need to enter Switzerland is a valid US green card and passport, which allow for up to a three-month stay in the country. Those planning on staying longer than three months need to obtain a residence permit or "Ausländerausweis" as it's called in German.
There are three kinds of permits: short-term residence permits for those planning to stay less than one year, annual residence permits for those planning to stay longer than a year but not indefinitely, and permanent residence permits, which offer an unlimited stay in the country.
The Swiss don't let just anyone into the country. In order to be approved for a residence permit, you have to have a job offer and it has to be for a job that cannot be done by a Swiss national. Your company must second you — assign you to work in a different department for a certain period of time.
Once that's been determined, the next step is to submit all your documents to the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington DC. Those documents include an application, offer of employment, two passport photos, your original passport, and the visa fee. It's best to get your paperwork in to the embassy sooner than later since processing takes anywhere from eight to 1o weeks.
2. Figure out your moving strategy ahead of time.
Shipping household items such as furniture, matresses, and appliances internationally takes time. So if you choose to move your items before you leave the country, consider staying at a friend or relative's home until you make the move. You can then have your items delivered right when you arrive in Switzerland.
Or you can choose to have your movers come right as you leave the country, but then you'll have to find a temporary living situation once you arrive in Switzerland while you wait for your items to be delivered. Either way, looking into moving companies before your move will help reduce stress and ensure that you choose the option that's best for you.
3. Fill out an application for the items you plan on bringing with you into the country.
As long as you're making Switzerland your new place of residence, the Swiss government allows you to import belongings duty-free. However, that's only if you fill out form 18.44 (Declaration/Application for clearance of relocation goods) and have it with you to present at the customs office. The website of the Swiss Federal Customs Administration is a good place to go for more information.
4. If you plan on bringing a pet, make sure it's been vaccinated against rabies.
Swiss regulations require a vaccination certificate for any dogs or cats entering the country. Your pet must have been vaccinated at least 30 days before entering the country, but the vaccination can't be more than a year old. In addition, dogs, cats, and ferrets have to be microchipped for identification purposes.
5. If you plan on having a car in Switzerland, know that you'll need a motorway vignette.
Although you won't need to apply for a Swiss driver license until a year after moving - you're allowed to drive in Switzerland for up to a year with your American driver license as long as it's valid — you will need to obtain a motorway vignette or "Autobahnvignette" in German. This is a sticker that goes on your windshield that allows you to drive on all of the country's highways. It costs 40 Swiss Francs per year (around $42) and can be purchased either at the Swiss customs office or at gas stations and post offices around the country.
6. Notify your bank of your move, and look into opening a foreign bank account.
It's a good idea to keep at least one bank account in the US, especially if your move is not indefinite and you still have property — and therefore bills to pay — in the US. However you'll want to make sure you tell your bank that you're moving and will be using your debit and/or credit cards from a foreign country. Otherwise your bank is likely to assume your card has been compromised or stolen and cancel it.
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