Residence permit

You are required to register at the Residents’ registration office (Contrôle des habitants) in the commune where you live within 14 days after your arrival in Switzerland.

This also applies to Swiss citizen coming from another canton.

It may take some weeks/months to get your residence permit.

Switzerland has different administrations, one for each canton. Immigration formalities (visa and residence permit) must be done in the canton where you will study.

EPFL is present in five cantons of Switzerland: Vaud, Geneva, Valais, Fribourg and Neuchâtel. The addresses and documents provided below are for Canton of Vaud. For extended campuses, please ask the respective Population office:

Population office for Extended campus of Genève
Population office for Extended campus of Sion/Valais
Population office for Extended campus of Fribourg
Population office for Extended campus of Neuchâtel
Population office for EPFL campus Lausanne/Vaud

Usually required documents

Please find hereunder the list of the usually required documents. We invite you to ask the Residents’ registration office in the commune where you live if other documents are required.

  • For UE or AELE nationals: – Upload the form “Annonce d’arrivée” available on point 7 of this page.
  • For non-UE or non-AELE nationals: – Upload the form “Rapport d’arrivée” available on point 7 of this page. and – Upload the form “Application form for a temporary residence permit for non-EC/EFTA nationals for study purposes in the Canton of Vaud” available on point 4 of this page.
  • Passport
  • Birth or origine certificate
  • Marriage or divorce certificate
  • EPFL enrolment certificate. Enrolment certificates certificates can be printed out directly from your secured access of IS-Academia
  • 3 passport photos
  • Rental contract where you are living in Switzerland or landlord attestation if you do not have a rental contrat (attestation templates are sometimes given on commune’s websites)
  • For european students: A document proving that you have sufficient funding (2000.- CHF/month) for your stay in Switzerland.You will find how to prove it on this page
  • Scholarship holders must provide an attestation of scholarship (document «Declaration of obligations» for students from the Swiss-European Mobility Programme). You will have the option to ask for a tax exemption (chapter residence tax) if you benefit from a scholarship.
  • Cash money for foreigner students in order to pay your residence permit (the amount is depending on the commune and your arrival country, we advise you to take ~200.- CHF).

If you are living in a temporary accommodation, you must nonetheless report to the commune where this temporary accommodation is located in order to start the process for obtaining your residence permit. Remember to inform the post office of your new permanent address as you could receive your residence permit by post.

Students who reside in Lausanne for study purposes have to pay an residence tax of CHF 37.- per month.

A request for exemption from the tax is possible for those with a Swiss or foreign scholarship or with subsidiary earnings for which a tax is deducted at source.

In other Communes, the municipal regulations on residence tax apply.

There is no need to precise the type of permit needed, it will be given according to your situation. For information, as a student, you can receive:

  • Student permit: Permis B
  • Student permit for short term (6 months): Permis L
  • The Residents’ registration office will provide you with an attestation (while awaiting the official residence permit) which will allow you to open a bank account.
  • However without a residence permit, you will not be able to leave the country temporarily (for holidays, a seminar, etc.).

If you have to go out of Switzerland and have not received your residence permit yet, please check your visa: if it is a “multi entry visa” and if you are in the deadlines, then you can go abroad and come back into Switzerland without any problems. If your visa is not a “multi entry visa” you will have to ask for a new visa (return visa) to the Population office (Division étrangers). This new visa will be delivered at their desk the same day.

  • The permit is generally issued for one year.
  • After one year, a letter is sent by the authorities in order to explain how to proceed to get the extension if needed.
  • Proof of sufficient financial means is required for the extension of your residence permit.

Temporarily for holidays, internship, project obraod

If you inform the Residents’ registration office about your departure without giving another home address in Switzerland, you will need, at your way back, to apply for a new residence permit and a new visa if needed. If you have to apply for a new visa (normal procedure) since your application has already been treated for your first request, the process will be shortened.

How to proceed?

  1. Wherever you are, apply for a visa in the nearest Swiss embassy.
  2. Inform the embassy that you already had a visa and would like to go to Switzerland again.
  3. Inform us about the situation. EPFL will notify the Population office which will treat your request more rapidly.

In any case, please contact the population office in order to know if you can leave the country.


During the last month of your stay in Switzerland, you are requested to inform the Residents’ registration office about your close departure.

If your stay in another Canton is provisory, the Population office advise to keep the principal address in canton de Vaud and to take a temporary address in the other Canton. It is very long and complicated to change of Canton if it is for a short term. To keep your principal address if you do not live in Canton de Vaud:

  • Ask in your commune of residence if you can have an administrative address. Not all communes do accept it but it worth it to ask.
  • Ask a friend if you can register with him/her in his/her house. In this situation you will have to register at the Residents’ registration office of the commune of your friend.

It is important to inform your first commune of residence that you have a temporary address in another canton. All occupancy taxes and insurances will be linked to you principal address. In the Canton where you are doing your internship you will have to:

  • inform the Residents’ registration office about your temporary address
  • be sure that the company where you are doing your internship declares you at the working department.

Non-european students: After your registration at the Residents’ registration office, you will receive a letter from the Population office inviting you to go to the Biometric Center in Lausanne to proceed with the registration of the biometric data and thus finalise your residence permit. The Population office provides all the information (procedure, costs, etc… ) on this document (in French and English). Should you have any problems to get your residence permit, do not hesitate to contact them.