Welcome to Bern University of Applied Sciences!
Are you about to start working at Bern University of Applied Sciences, or are you planning to work here? The Welcome Center extends a warm welcome to you in your new surroundings. We are here to provide assistance and support for you in all matters relating to life in Switzerland. The website provides an overview and gives you useful information about your future stay in Switzerland. If you have any further questions about the new start and day-to-day routines, please email us or arrange an appointment.
If you have any questions about your contract, terms of employment or work permit, please get in touch with your contact in Human Resources.
Wishing you every success with your new start at BFH!
The Welcome Center is an information and advisory service for newly arrived staff who have questions about life in Switzerland, in the region and at BFH.
If you are relocating to Switzerland, you will most likely be planning to bring your furniture, crockery, books, clothes, etc. with you. To avoid paying import duty on your household items, you will need to meet certain conditions: you must transfer your place of residence to Switzerland, you must have used the imported items for at least six months, and you must continue to use them after you have imported them.
How to proceed
Please complete the form ‘(Declaration/Application for clearance of household effects’ (in duplicate). In addition to the form, the Customs Office will also require the following documents:
- An inventory of the goods you are importing
- Your Swiss residence permit (not applicable for persons relocating from EU-25/EFTA countries)
- The official foreign registration certificate for the means of transport
- Proof that you have purchased or rented a house or flat
The Customs Office may request further documents. The form and further information are available from the Swiss Federal Customs Administration. You do not have to report that you will be arriving with your household effects in advance. On entering the country, report to a customs office responsible for commercial goods during opening hours.
If you are planning to bring pets (dog, cat, etc.) with you to Switzerland, please note the additional requirements of the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office FSVO.
Finding accommodation in Switzerland can take a while. Make sure that you allow ample time and draw up a budget so that you know how much rent you can afford. Useful information is provided by the Swiss Budget Advisory Service.
You will usually have to apply for a flat by completing an application form that you are given when you go to view the property. Most landlords require evidence of personal liability insurance plus payment of a deposit (up to a maximum of three months' rent). In addition to your monthly rent, there will be charges for electricity, water, heating, phone/internet, SERAFE (TV licence) and cable TV.
A number of different portals advertise accommodation for rent.
Find out about the different forms of insurance in Switzerland before your stay. In particular, it is important to note that health and accident insurance are compulsory in Switzerland.
In principle, individuals staying or working in Switzerland (with the exception of tourists) have to have health insurance in Switzerland. Within three months of the beginning of the compulsory insurance requirement (from the commencement of their stay/job in Switzerland), individuals must take out basic health insurance with a Swiss health insurance provider in accordance with the Federal Act on Health Insurance. It then applies retroactively. Anyone residing in Switzerland for the purposes of education or training is subject to certain conditions.
Personal liability insurance insures you against damage to personal or material incurred by third parties. Should damage occur to other people or property (such as an apartment or room), this is covered by liability insurance. There is no statutory requirement for personal liability insurance, but we recommend taking out a policy anyway. In Switzerland, this costs between CHF 100 and CHF 150 per year.
Legal costs insurance
If you are involved in a legal dispute, legal costs insurance can be useful. You gain free access to legal advice without paying high court costs or attorney fees.
Contents insurance protects household possessions against theft, robbery and damage caused by fire and water. Check the coverage of your contents insurance or consider taking out a policy in Switzerland.
Old-age and survivors’ insurance (AHV), disability insurance (IV) and income compensation (EO) are an important part of compulsory Swiss social security. Everyone living or working in Switzerland is insured and must pay contributions.
You can get further information on social security from your HR contact or at:
Bern University of Applied Sciences automatically provides professional liability cover. You also have accident insurance.
If your contract specifies a set wage, please note that the total shown is a gross payment and that social security contributions will be deducted from this. These deductions consist of:
- Old age and survivors’ insurance (AHV), disability insurance (IV) and income compensation insurance (EO)
- Unemployment insurance (ALV)
- Occupational pension (BVG); varying percentage of the insured salary, depending on the pension scheme and age of the insured person
- Occupational and non-occupational accident insurance (BUV/NBUV)
For further information, see your terms of employment or get in touch with your HR contact.
During your time in Switzerland, Bern University of Applied Sciences does not provide insurance against theft.
You have moved to Switzerland and your family is still living abroad? Find out the requirements that must be met in order to bring family members to Switzerland and the services available to help introduce your children to the Swiss school system.
In Switzerland, nurseries and childminders offer regular, professional childcare services. Nurseries and childminders are often referred to as extra-familial childcare facilities (FEB). Prices are income-linked and depend on the nursery fees or the cantonal rates.
A limited number of nursery places are available to BFH staff and students. Please ensure that you make enquiries well in advance. Contact us and enrol your child as soon as possible, as there are often long waiting lists.
In the canton of Bern, day schools provide teaching and care facilities for children of kindergarten and school age.
Day school attendance is optional and subject to a fee. Based on cantonal rates, the fees are calculated on an individual basis according to income, means and size of family.
In Switzerland, the cantons are primarily responsible for the education system. This means that the school system differs slightly from canton to canton.Find out more about the primary schools, secondary schools, vocational education and universities in the canton of Bern and in Switzerland:
Four official languages and numerous dialects are spoken in Switzerland. The majority of cantons speak German. The official languages of the canton of Bern are German and French, with German as the predominant language in the city of Bern.
BFH offers its staff language courses and one-day workshops. These will help you to develop your language skills and get to grips with a multilingual environment. Courses are offered in French, English, German and Swiss German. You will find further information on the BFH Intranet (which can be accessed by BFH staff).
If the courses offered by BFH do not meet your requirements, there are various private schools in Bern that offer intensive and extensive language courses at all levels.
The Bern region is located in the heart of Switzerland and has plenty to offer visitors, from urban centre to picturesque countryside and majestic mountains. The city of Bern is the capital of Switzerland, and a popular destination for tourists.
The canton of Bern enjoys excellent tram, rail and bus links. Moonliner night buses make sure that residents get home safely after hours. Many of Bern’s main sights are easily accessible on foot, and the canton also aims to encourage cycling.
The city and region of Bern, together with the other BFH sites, offer a wide range of sports and cultural activities to enjoy in your free time.
Euraxess Service Center at Bern University of Applied Sciences
The Welcome Center is BFH’s Euraxess Service Center and part of the Euraxess Network for mobile researchers, which is represented in 40 countries across Europe. You can also access comprehensive information from Euraxess Switzerland on topics as diverse as entry conditions for Switzerland, your first day at work, research and family.