Welcome to Geneva

1. Overview

There are 5 important steps that must be followed immediately upon arrival in the Canton of Geneva if you wish to stay here permanently or for a long time:

  1. Obtain a residence and work permit (mandatory)

    Citizens from the European Union meeting the necessary conditions for the obtention of a residence and/or work permit must report within 3 months of their arrival to the Office cantonal de la population et des migrations (OCPM)

    Citizens from other countries (outside the European Union) meeting the necessary conditions must report to the OCPM within 14 days of their arrival.

    Steps to obtain a residence or work permit:
    - permis de travail (salarié) / work permit for employee
    - permis de travail pour indépendant / work permit for freelance
    - permis de séjour sans activité lucrative / residence permit without gainful activity
    - permis de séjour pour étudiant / student residence permit
    - permis de séjour pour membres de la famille (regroupement familial) / residence permit for family members

  2. Enrol your child aged 4 or more in school (mandatory)

    Children 4-11
    Chlidren 12-15
    Young people aged 16 to 18 are required to be in training
    You can place your children in a crèche (day nursery) up to the age of 3.

  3. Suscribe to a health-insurance policy (mandatory)

    You must subscribe to a health-insurance policy immediately, but at the latest 3 months after your arrival in Switzerland (otherwise, an insurance company might be imposed upon you).

  4. Take a liability insurance (mandatory for tenants) / Assurance responsabilité civile

    Consult an insurance comparison website

  5. Open a postal or bank account


Translation services are available in case of need

Translation of official documents :
-  Liste of sworn translators

Sign language interpretation :
-  Procom, rue Caroline 7bis,1003 Lausanne, Tél. 021 625 88 22, Fax. 021 625 88 24

Find your geographical landmarks

Find the location of an organization or administration.

The BIE has created an online map for newcomers with almost 260 useful addresses :
-  Living in Geneva - Multilingual interactive map for newcomers


Emergency phone numbers

144  Medical emergencies
118  Fire and rescue emergencies
117  Police emergency
145  24-hour advice on poisoning ; https://www.toxinfo.ch/startseite_fr
112  International emergency number

Major emergencies and public protection

In the event of a major emergency (e.g. serious industrial accident, terrorist attack, tsunami, etc.), the Swiss authorities alert the general public.

They use a network of fixed and mobile sirens installed throughout the country and the Alertswiss smartphone app. This app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play and must be installed on your phone.

General alarm

During a general alarm, sirens emit an oscillating sound for one minute. This sound is repeated after five minutes.

In this case it is essential to adopt the right behaviour:
-  LISTEN TO THE RADIO and/or refer to the instructions issued by the Alertswiss app
Water alarm

In case of emergency in areas at risk near hydroelectric dams, local authorities trigger the water alarm (12 low tones of 20 seconds each, separated by 10 seconds of silence).

In this case the general public must:
Alertswiss website

At www.alert.swiss you will find all the information you need on current alarms and warnings, on the dangers that can lead to a major disaster, and on how to behave.

Alertswiss app

This app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play. It enables you to receive information directly to your mobile phone:

  • alarm, warning or information messages depending on your geographical position and/or targeted to your presets,
  • the general alarm and
  • instructions on how to behave in an emergency.
Last updated
4 April 2022

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