Table of contents
Moving to Switzerland
If you're transferring your domicile to Switzerland, your personal belongings can be imported duty free (exceptions apply to food, alcohol and new/unused items). You need to fill in a declaration form and provide proof of transfer of domicile in the form of a Swiss rental agreement, employment contract etc. You'll also need an inventory of all imported goods. Cars are difficult to import from outside Europe, so this is not recommended. The goods must pass the border during regular opening hours at a point where commercial goods are processed. More information on this, along with the declaration form for clearance of household effects (form 18.44) and the list of relocation goods can be found on the website of the Swiss Customs Administration.
Do-It-Yourself vs Professional Removals
If you’re moving within Switzerland, you may be thinking of doing the moving yourself. In this case it’s best to start packing early on, to enlist the help of many friends for the moving day and make sure a rental truck is available for your preferred date. Especially if you’re moving close to a standard termination date, rental trucks may be booked weeks ahead. Don’t forget the cleaning of your old flat after you’ve moved out.
Hiring a moving company
It may be more convenient for you to hire a removal company to handle your relocation. Some companies also offer packing and unpacking services. There is also often a combination of moving and cleaning available (ask for a handover guarantee). A selection of removal companies can be found on the website of homegate.
It is customary for most rental agencies to request a deposit to be paid at the beginning of a tenancy. This deposit ranges from one month’s to three months’ rent. The deposit is usually put on a blocked bank account and serves as a security. After the termination of your tenancy, when all costs have been covered by you, you must be reimbursed by the landlord.
Terminating a Tenancy
If you want to terminate your tenancy, you have to do so in writing. A short, signed letter to the landlord by registered mail will suffice. Make sure that the notice period and termination date you’re striving after are in compliance with your contract.
This is usually stated in your tenancy. Should this not be the case, then it comprises three months.
Your contract may state specific termination dates. If no such dates are indicated, then the standard termination dates of your community apply. For the City of Zurich, the termination dates are 31 March and 30 September. In other areas, there may be more possibilities.
Ordinary termination refers to the usual procedure of terminating your contract under observance of the period of notice and the termination date. Please note that it’s crucial that your rental agency receives your notice on time. If several people have signed the tenancy contract, then all of them have to sign the termination letter.
Should you wish to terminate your rental contract outside of the ordinary notice period and/or termination date, then you’re aiming at an extraordinary termination. In order for you to be able to leave irrespective of the dates stated in your contract, certain requirements need to be met.
It is advisable to send a letter to your landlord by registered mail stating your intention to leave outside the ordinary dates and that you’re looking for a replacement. You then need to find an acceptable tenant who’s solvent and willing to take over the property and contract under the same conditions. If you’ve found an interested person fulfilling these requirements, have them fill in an application form. Forward the application together with a copy of their debt-enforcement registry ("Betreibungsauszug") to your landlord. Don’t forget to state the date when your replacement would like to take over the apartment. The landlord will accept (or justifiably refuse) your replacement after thoroughly vetting her or him. You have to allow for two to four weeks for this process.
Handover of the Apartment
Handovers are usually handled on work days during office hours. The deadline for handing over the rented accommodation is usually specified in the contract. Normally this coincides with the last day of your tenancy. Should the last day of your tenancy be on a weekend or a public holiday, then the latest possible handover is postponed to noon the following working day.
In case you’re moving out on the last day of your tenancy or later, your moving day may coincide with the new tenant moving it. It is best to let the landlord know about your moving day while also making arrangements with the new tenant.
Inventory and inspection report
When an apartment’s tenant changes, rental agencies or landlords usually write an inventory and inspection report where the property is described accurately and in detail. Often the signs of use and wear are also documented in the report (or sometimes they’re listed separately in a list of property defects). In any case it makes sense to check the report closely before signing it.
It may occur that you notice defects or problems after you’ve moved in. You should inform the landlord within 10 days of moving in about the problems in writing.
When properties are handed over, they must be cleaned according to the specifications in the contract. In most cases in Switzerland, this means that the property must be spotless. This includes all details (oven, windows, sun blinds, filters, door frames etc.) and implies great effort and time.
If the flat isn’t spotlessly cleaned, the landlord may have it professionally cleaned and bill the cleaning to you. It is thus advisable to either invest some effort to avoid this or have the property professionally cleaned. In order to avoid any surprises, ask for quotes from a selection of cleaning companies. Only employ a company that guarantees successful handover.
Change of Address and Registering
Changing your address
A few weeks before you move, you should inform certain authorities as well as your employer, your bank, your insurance company and telecommunications company about your change of address. An exhaustive list of people and institutions to inform can be downloaded here.
You can inform the University's HR directly by filling in the following form.
Deregistration / registration
If you are moving from one municipality of Zurich to another, you have to deregister at the District Office of your former place of residence and register at your new place of residence within 14 days of your arrival.
You can have your mail redirected to your new address. Just issue a forwarding order online or at a Swiss Post counter. For a fee your mail will be automatically sent to your new location for a year.
A - Z of Moving to Zurich
The City of Zurich has compiled an overview with useful links and information on moving to Zurich and some everyday issues (in German). The English website contains less detailed information. A brochure on your rights and obligations as a tenant can be downloaded below.