Find out before your stay about the various insurances available in Switzerland. Health and accident insurance, in particular, is obligatory in Switzerland.
In principle, any person who stays in Switzerland (with the exception of tourists) and/or is in gainful employment is required to have health insurance in Switzerland. A person is required within three months of the start of the obligation to be insured (from taking up residence or starting employment in Switzerland) to take out basic compulsory insurance under the Health Insurance Act (HIA) with a Swiss health insurance company with retrospective effect from the date on which the obligation to be insured in Switzerland arose. However, special provisions apply to persons who are staying in Switzerland for the purpose of basic/continuing education and training, depending on their situation.
For further information about health and accident insurance in Switzerland
What to do in case of illness (for persons with EU/EEA insurance)
In cases of illness, insured persons have an automatic legal right to medical assistance in all EU and EEA countries and therefore also in Switzerland.
Always carry your European health insurance card with you. You must show this card at the hospital or doctor’s surgery should anything happen to you during your stay. If you should receive a doctor's invoice, you can send it directly to the following address with a copy of the insurance card: Gemeinsame Einrichtung KVG, Gibelinstrasse 25, Postfach, 4503 Solothurn.
Persons with private (additional) insurance must clarify the extent of insurance cover abroad with their insurance provider.
Personal liability insurance
Personal liability insurance protects you if you cause a third party to suffer personal injury or damage to their property. Accidents happen all too easily and if you injure someone or damage their property (for example in their flat or room), this is covered by personal liability insurance. Nevertheless we recommend that exchange students should take out personal liability insurance. In Switzerland, it costs between CHF 100 and CHF 150 per year.
Legal protection insurance
If you are involved in a legal dispute, legal protection insurance can prove useful. You have access to free legal advice and avoid having to bear the high court and lawyer costs yourself.
Contents insurance insures you against theft, robbery and fire and water damage to your personal property in your household. Check the cover of your current contents insurance or consider taking out such insurance in Switzerland.
Further information can be found at:
During your stay in Switzerland, you are not insured against theft by your host university or place of internship.
Further insurance when in employment
If you are doing an internship in Switzerland or are working part-time while studying (maximum 15 hours per week during semester, up to 100% during official semester vacations), your employer automatically covers you for professional liability and accidents in the workplace. If a certain wage is agreed in the employment contract, this is understood to be the gross amount from which the social security contributions are deducted. These deductions consist of contributions to:
- old-age and survivors’ insurance (AHV), invalidity insurance (IV) and income protection insurance (EO)
- unemployment insurance (ALV)
- occupational retirement scheme (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): varying percentage of the salary, depending on the industry
Exchange students are not insured for social security in Switzerland.
Foreign full-time students who complete the entire course of study in Switzerland are insured for social security as a matter of principle.
General information about the social insurance system
The old-age and survivors’ insurance (AHV), invalidity insurance (IV) and income protection insurance (EO) are an important part of the compulsory Swiss social insurance system. Everyone who lives or works in Switzerland is covered and must pay contributions.
Non-working full-time students
Students are generally obliged to pay contributions. Swiss and international students domiciled in Switzerland must pay a minimum of CHF 478 per year into to the AHV, IV and EO system as of 1 January after their 20th birthday.
Exemption from the obligation to pay contributions
If you remain domiciled abroad during your stay, you can apply to your local AHV office for an exemption from the obligation to pay contributions. According to Article 23 Paragraph 1 of the Swiss Civil Code, a person’s domicile is defined as ‘the place in which he or she resides with the intention of settling’. The place should be the focal point around which the person lives their life. This definition includes both an objective (the stay) and a subjective (intention to settle) element. Hence, if your stay is only for study purposes, you do not have to pay any AHV, IV and EO contributions.
Please note! As soon as you start to work, you are obliged to pay social insurance contributions.