Coming to live in Switzerland

Welcome to Switzerland's leading health insurer.

Different countries, different ways of doing things: especially for those coming to Switzerland from other countries, we've set up a separate, user-friendly info page with everything they need to know about health insurance in Switzerland, all in the same place and made easy to understand.

FAQs for those coming to live in Switzerland

Here you will find answers to questions that are frequently asked by immigrants.

  1. Do I definitely need to have Swiss health insurance? I still have private insurance in my home country.
  2. Is there a registration deadline for applying for health insurance in Switzerland?
  3. I complied with the registration deadline, so why am I still being asked to pay extra insurance premiums?
  4. Do I pay a lower premium if I didn't arrive in the country until the middle of a month?
  5. Can I defer the start date of my insurance? Otherwise I'd be insured twice over, as my foreign health insurance is still running.
  6. In my home country, my wife and children were covered by my insurance for free. How does it work in Switzerland?
  7. I am moving to Switzerland, but the other members of the family who are not working are staying in their EU/EFTA country of origin. Where do I have to insure them?
  8. Why do I have to complete a health declaration for the insurance application if the basic insurance is compulsory?
  9. Can I continue going to my dentist in my home country?
  10. Am I covered by my Swiss health insurer if I go abroad?
  11. I need an operation. Can I have it carried out in my home country? It would cost much less there than in Switzerland.
  12. Why should I choose the Helsana Group?
  13. I have some more questions. Who should I contact for further information?
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Do I definitely need to have Swiss health insurance? I still have private insurance in my home country.

In Switzerland, as in most European countries, health insurance is compulsory. In accordance with Article 3 of the Swiss Federal Health Insurance Act (KVG) healthcare insurance as defined by the KVG is compulsory for all persons resident in Switzerland. This insurance covers the basic needs in the event of illness, accidents and maternity, and is therefore known as compulsory basic insurance.

So if you have just moved to Switzerland to live and work, it is mandatory for you to take out health insurance in Switzerland.

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Is there a registration deadline for applying for health insurance in Switzerland?

Yes; after moving to Switzerland, you must register with a health insurer of your choice for compulsory basic insurance within 3 months. This 3-month period begins on the date you register with the residents' office, i.e. the date on which your confirmation of residence or your residence permit (e.g. L, B or C) is issued.

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I complied with the registration deadline, so why am I still being asked to pay extra insurance premiums?

After moving to Switzerland you have up to three months to register for the basic insurance. However, to ensure that there are no gaps in insurance cover, the compulsory basic insurance begins from the date you arrive in Switzerland.

It is therefore irrelevant whether you register for the basic insurance straight away on the day you arrive or only 3 weeks or 2 months later; your insurance cover applies retroactively from your date of arrival. As a result the insurance premium is payable retroactively as of this date.

However, if you miss the 3-month registration deadline your insurance cover will no longer begin retroactively but only from your actual date of joining. Moreover, if the deadline was missed without good reason, a supplementary premium will also be payable. Further information is set out in Article 5 of the Swiss Federal Law on Health Insurance (KVG).

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Do I pay a lower premium if I didn't arrive in the country until the middle of a month?

Insurance cover in the compulsory basic insurance begins on the exact date you move to Switzerland, so in your case in the middle of the month. However, unfortunately the insurance premiums cannot be levied for part of a month, as the compulsory basic health insurance is based solely on monthly premiums and does not use daily premiums. Therefore for the purposes of premium payments – in contrast to the start of coverage – it is irrelevant whether someone arrived in Switzerland at the beginning of the month, during the month or only at the end of the month. The premium for the entire calendar month is payable in all cases.

In this context please also note Article 5.1 of our Terms and conditions of insurance for the compulsory basic insurance BASIS (PDF, 47KB) .

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Can I defer the start date of my insurance? Otherwise I'd be insured twice over, as my foreign health insurance is still running.

If you still have equivalent foreign private health insurance cover during the three-month registration period, we are able to check whether it may be possible to defer the start date of the compulsory basic insurance (and thus also the premium payments) by a maximum of three months.

However, a deferral is possible only if you can provide proof of insurance (in the form of a confirmation of cancellation) from your foreign health insurance company. Please make sure you submit these with your application form for the compulsory basic insurance.

However, if you had a statutory rather than a private health insurance policy in your previous country of residence, it will automatically expire when you move to Switzerland and start working here.

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In my home country, my wife and children were covered by my insurance for free. How does it work in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, the per-capita premium system applies. This means that a health insurance premium is payable by every person, irrespective of their age or marital status.

So if you settle in Switzerland with your family, you must register each family member for compulsory health insurance with a health insurance company of your choice, and pay the insurance premium for all family members.

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I am moving to Switzerland, but the other members of the family who are not working are staying in their EU/EFTA country of origin. Where do I have to insure them?

IThis is determined by the agreement with the EU/EFTA member states on the free movement of persons. All family members (e.g. spouses and children) who are not pursuing an economic activity are normally also subject to an insurance obligation in Switzerland. You therefore have to insure your family members with you at the same health insurer in Switzerland. However, unlike for you, the country in which your economically inactive family members must be insured depends on the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and their country of residence. As a result, the EU/EFTA premium tariff (PDF, 1MB) for persons resident in an EU or EFTA member state applies to your family members, while you will pay the premium tariff for your place of residence in Switzerland.

However, if your family members continue to reside in Germany, Finland, France, Austria or Italy, they can request exemption from the insurance obligation in Switzerland in order to remain insured in their country of residence.

Overview: Insurance obligations in the different EU/EFTA member states

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Why do I have to complete a health declaration for the insurance application if the basic insurance is compulsory?

Swiss health insurers are obliged by law to accept all applicants for the compulsory basic health insurance, irrespective of age, gender and state of health. A health check is therefore not required to take out basic insurance.

However, this is not the case for voluntary supplementary insurance (e.g. for alternative medicine, dental treatment or hospital stays). Here the health insurers normally carry out a risk assessment for all applicants. This is why a health declaration always has to be completed along with the application form for supplementary insurance.

So we only request a health declaration from you if you have applied for one or more supplementary insurance policies alongside your basic insurance.

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Can I continue going to my dentist in my home country?

If you take out DENTAplus dental insurance, you can continue to receive dental treatment in your country of origin because the benefits provided under DENTAplus apply worldwide. This is subject to the condition that the foreign dentist has equivalent qualifications to dentists in Switzerland, and that the costs of the treatment are not higher than for the same treatment in Switzerland..

Without DENTAplus dental insurance, however, a visit to the dentist abroad is not insured because, with the exception of accident-related damage, the compulsory basic insurance does not reimburse dental treatments (and certainly not abroad).

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Am I covered by my Swiss health insurer if I go abroad?

If you have to make an emergency visit to a hospital or doctor during a temporary stay in an EU or EFTA country, you must present your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). In this case the costs incurred abroad are covered by your Swiss basic insurance.

More information on health insurance cover for temporary visits to an EU/EFTA member state

Details on each EU/EFTA member state are available here

If you require hospital treatment outside the EU/EFTA, you can claim the costs up to double the amount that the same treatment would cost in Switzerland. However, in some countries (e.g. the USA, Canada or Japan), this is far less than what you will be expected to pay. For travel outside Europe, we therefore recommend that you take out COMPLETA supplementary insurance. This insurance covers all costs of medically necessary emergency, outpatient and inpatient treatment during visits abroad for up to 12 months.

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I need an operation. Can I have it carried out in my home country? It would cost much less there than in Switzerland.

If you only have compulsory basic insurance, you are restricted to having operations in Swiss clinics and hospitals on the cantonal hospital lists and the list of Helsana Group's KVG contract hospitals. However, at a maximum the costs of the tariff of your canton of residence will be reimbursed. If you choose a hospital with a higher tariff outside your canton, you will have to pay the difference yourself.

If you specifically want to travel abroad to have a particular operation carried out, you need supplementary hospital insurance. For example, in HOSPITAL ECO you will receive up to CHF 500 per day for every day in hospital abroad (for up to 60 days per year). Our other HOSPITAL insurance policies reimburse even higher amounts for treatment carried out abroad.

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Why should I choose the Helsana Group?

With around 1.9 million policyholders and over 3,000 staff the Helsana Group is the leading health and accident insurer in Switzerland and so offers the highest level of security and peace of mind for its policyholders.

With 22 general agencies and 19 points of sale we are close to our customers throughout Switzerland. Click here to find your nearest sales office.

We have an extensive network of first-rate business and healthcare partners such as doctors' networks and partner clinics. Thanks to our various co-operation partners, Helsana Group policyholders can obtain advice by telephone on medical questions and have medicines delivered to their homes simply and cheaply.

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I have some more questions. Who should I contact for further information?

For specific questions relating to workers posted to Switzerland or cross-border commuters who are moving permanently to Switzerland, please contact our specialists in international customer service:

Pensioners who have newly moved to Switzerland and continue to draw a pension exclusively from another EU or EFTA country should contact the Gemeinsame Einrichtung KVG directly with any questions.

In all other cases our multilingual advisory team will be happy to help you: