Internship Opportunities and Student Visa Requirements in Switzerland

Your Comprehensive Guide to Navigating Internship and Educational Opportunities in Switzerland

Switzerland, renowned for its precision, innovation, and stunning landscapes, is a prime destination for internships and educational pursuits. At Piktalent, we are excited to offer a range of internship placements in Switzerland, catering to various sectors. These opportunities are designed to provide hands-on experience that complements your career aspirations in a country known for its high-quality education system and cutting-edge research.

For those seeking internships in Switzerland, it’s crucial to understand the country’s visa and work permit regulations. Switzerland provides a supportive environment for students and interns, but compliance with legal requirements is key for a seamless experience. From the cosmopolitan flair of Zurich to the historic charm of Geneva, Switzerland offers a diverse setting for those starting their career or seeking to enrich their educational journey. Whether it’s delving into world-class research or being part of leading financial institutions, Switzerland’s unique environment offers abundant opportunities and enriching experiences.

EU citizens

Embarking on an internship in Switzerland presents a unique blend of professional development and cultural exploration. For EU citizens, especially those from Croatia, staying abreast of the latest Swiss laws and regulations is crucial. This guide offers an updated overview of internship legislation in Switzerland, covering duration, contracts, remuneration, and tax implications.

1. Duration and Conditions

Internships in Switzerland vary in length, typically from a few months to a year, depending on the industry and internship nature. A significant update for 2023/2024 is introducing a quota permit requirement for Croatian nationals, effective from 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2024. This new regulation may affect the ease of obtaining necessary permits for Croatian EU citizens.

2. Internship Contract for Interns

A formal internship contract remains a standard requirement in Switzerland, detailing duties, duration, working hours, and remuneration or benefits. Interns must review their contracts thoroughly to understand their rights and obligations.

3. Remuneration and Unpaid Internships

While Switzerland does not have a nationwide minimum wage law, paid internships are common, with remuneration varying across sectors. Unpaid internships are prevalent, particularly for academic-linked programs.

4. After Arrival in the Country for EU Citizens

EU citizens, including Croatians, must register with the residents’ registration office and obtain a residence permit for internships exceeding three months. Croatian nationals should be particularly aware of the new quota permit requirement, aligning with the safeguard clause activated by the Federal Council.

5. Personal Identity Number

Interns receive a Swiss social security number upon registration, essential for employment-related processes, including taxation and social security contributions.

6. Social Security Contributions for Interns

Like regular employees, interns in Switzerland are subject to social security contributions, covering pension, unemployment insurance, and other social benefits. The rates may vary based on the internship type.

7. Remuneration Law for Internships

General labour laws apply to internships, ensuring fair compensation considering industry standards and the cost of living in Switzerland.

8. Taxation for Interns

Interns are subject to income tax in Switzerland, with rates depending on the canton and income level. Using online tax calculators or consulting with a tax professional is advisable for specific tax obligations.

Swiss Tax System: A Closer Look for Interns in 2023/2024

Switzerland’s tax system has undergone significant changes, particularly with the implementation of the global minimum tax. Here are the key points you need to be aware of:

  1. Income Tax for Interns

    • Taxable Income: Income from stipends or salaries during internships remains subject to income tax.
    • Tax Rates: These continue to vary by canton, each with its tax scale.
    • Withholding Tax: Non-resident interns will have their taxes deducted directly from their salary. This is crucial for short-term interns who are not tax residents in Switzerland.

  2. Determining Tax Residency

    • Residency Status: Your tax obligations hinge on your residency status. Short internships (less than 180 days) may classify you as a non-resident for tax purposes.
    • Non-Residents: As before, non-residents are taxed at source, with tax directly deducted from pay.

  3. Tax Deductions for Interns

    • General Deductions: Eligibility for deductions like work-related expenses remains, covering travel and meals.
    • Specific Deductions: Some cantons may offer unique deductions for interns, such as reduced rates or allowances.

  4. Social Security Contributions

    • Impact on Taxes: Mandatory contributions (pension, disability insurance, unemployment insurance) are deducted from your salary and can reduce your taxable income.

  5. Practical Example for an Intern in 2024

    • Scenario: An EU citizen interning in Zurich with a monthly stipend of CHF 1,500.
    • Tax Calculation: As a non-resident, the stipend is subject to withholding tax, with rates dependent on the canton and personal circumstances.
    • Net Income: Post-tax and social security deductions, the net income could range between CHF 1,300 to CHF 1,400 monthly (estimate).

  6. Additional Considerations

    • Professional Advice: The complexities of the Swiss tax system, especially with the new global minimum tax regulations, suggest seeking professional tax advice.
    • Tax Return Filing: Extended stays in Switzerland might necessitate filing a tax return.

  7. New Developments in 2023/2024

    • Global Minimum Tax: The introduction of the Qualifying Domestic Minimum Top-up Tax (QDMTT) from January 1, 2024, is a significant change affecting multinational enterprises and could influence tax obligations for interns in these organizations.

    • Ongoing Compliance: Interns, especially those in multinational corporations, should be aware of the evolving tax landscape, including the postponed implementation of the Income Inclusion Rule (IIR) and the Undertaxed Profits Rule (UTPR).

It’s advisable to stay informed and consult with tax professionals to navigate these changes effectively and ensure compliance with Swiss tax regulations.

9. Vital Steps for a Seamless Internship Experience in Switzerland
  • Research and Apply for Internships: Identify opportunities that align with your career goals and academic background.
  • Understand Visa Requirements: Note the new quota permit requirement for Croatian nationals.
  • Secure Accommodation: Start early due to Switzerland’s competitive housing market.
  • Register with Local Authorities: Essential for internships longer than three months.
  • Open a Swiss Bank Account: This is often necessary for salary payments in paid internships.
  • Understand and Arrange Health Insurance: Health insurance is mandatory in Switzerland. EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for short stays, but longer internships might require a Swiss health insurance policy.
  • Familiarize Yourself with Local Culture and Language: Knowing the local language (German, French, Italian, or Romansh) can be beneficial, although English is widely spoken in professional settings.
  • Network and Immerse Yourself: Engage in networking opportunities and immerse yourself in the local culture for a richer personal and professional experience.


An internship in Switzerland offers a unique opportunity for professional growth and cultural immersion. By understanding the legal framework, especially regarding contracts, remuneration, and taxation, EU citizens can ensure a rewarding and hassle-free internship experience in Switzerland. The new quota permit requirement for Croatian nationals highlights the importance of staying informed about current regulations. When in doubt, seeking advice from legal or professional experts in Switzerland can provide clarity and guidance tailored to your situation.

Non-EU citizens

For non-EU citizens, understanding the evolving legal landscape is key to unlocking these opportunities. This guide provides the latest insights into Swiss internship legislation for 2023/2024, ensuring you’re well-prepared for your professional journey in Switzerland.

1. Visa Requirements for Non-EU Interns:

Non-EU citizens must be highly qualified, typically with a university degree and relevant professional experience, to be eligible for an internship in Switzerland.

Swiss employers must prove that no suitable candidate is available within Switzerland or the EU/EFTA region.

Key Update for 2023/2024: The Swiss Federal Council has maintained the quota for third-country nationals. A total of 8,500 specialists can be recruited from outside the EU/EFTA, split into 4,500 with residence permit B and 4,000 with short-term residence permit L.

Short-term Schengen Visa (Type C):

  • Suitable for internships lasting less than 90 days.
  • Allows travel within the Schengen Area.
  • Ideal for short-term educational or training internships.

National Visa (Type D):

  • Required for internships longer than 90 days.
  • Specific to Switzerland, allowing the holder to stay for the duration of the internship.
  • Applicants must apply for a residence permit upon arrival in Switzerland.

Student Visa:

  • Individuals enrolled in a Swiss educational institution undertaking an internship as part of their studies.
  • Tied to the student’s enrollment in a Swiss university or college.

Work Visa:

  • Necessary for paid internships exceeding 90 days.
  • Requires approval from the Swiss cantonal labor authorities.
  • The employer in Switzerland often initiates the application process on behalf of the intern.

Professional Training/Internship Visa:

  • Designed for professional development internships.
  • Requires a formal internship agreement with a Swiss company or organization.
  • Proof of qualifications and the relevance of the internship to the applicant’s career is often necessary.

Au Pair Visa:

  • For young adults staying with a Swiss family for cultural exchange and language improvement, while helping with light household chores and childcare.
  • Not a typical internship visa, but falls under a similar category of temporary stay for educational and cultural purposes.

Specialist Visa:

  • For highly skilled professionals or specialists in certain fields undertaking an internship in Switzerland.
  • Requires documentation proving the specialist nature of the internship and the qualifications of the applicant.

Humanitarian Visa:

  • Issued for internships related to humanitarian work.
  • Applicable for internships with NGOs or international organizations based in Switzerland.

2023/2024 Updates:

  • The permit quotas for 2024 remain the same as in 2023, affecting Non-EU/EFTA nationals, EU/EFTA nationals on assignment, UK nationals, and Croatian nationals.
  • Non-EU/EFTA nationals have 8,500 permits available, divided into long-term B permits and short-term L permits.
  • For UK citizens post-Brexit, a separate quota system is in place, with specific long-term and short-term permits.
  • The Services Mobility Agreement (SMA) between the UK and Switzerland has been extended until 31 December 2025, facilitating market access and temporary stays for UK service providers.

Note: Each type of visa has specific requirements and conditions. The appropriate visa depends on the individual’s circumstances, the nature of the internship, and its duration.

2. Residence Permit for Internships
  • Mandatory internships for foreign students studying abroad are permissible, with a maximum duration of twelve months.
  • The internship must adhere to the local salary and working conditions standards.
3. Extensions and Exceptions
  • Internships during studies in Switzerland should not exceed half the total duration of the studies.
  • Post-study internships, particularly in international corporations, are possible for up to eighteen months.
4. New Procedures and Quotas
  • The process for non-EU citizens has been streamlined, focusing on sectors lacking local workforce.
  • 2023/2024 Quota Update: The quotas for non-EU nationals have not been fully utilized in recent years. As of late 2023, only 68% of B residence permits and 65% of L short-stay permits were used.
5. Work While Interning

Non-EU students in Switzerland can engage in part-time jobs after six months of their course start, limited to fifteen hours per week outside semester breaks, subject to university approval.

6. Post-Internship Opportunities

Graduates from Swiss universities can apply for a six-month short-term residence permit to seek employment, provided they have sufficient financial means and appropriate accommodation.

7. Vital Steps for a Seamless Stay:
    • Ensure necessary financial support and accommodation.
    • Have all required documents, including confirmation from educational institutions, ready for the application process.
Switzerland’s unchanged work permit quotas for 2024 present a stable and promising landscape for non-EU citizens seeking internships. With proper preparation and an understanding of the Swiss internship legislation, non-EU nationals can embark on a rewarding professional journey in Switzerland.

Swiss Working Visas

Job regulations for foreigners
Don't let the visa process stress you out

Book a 30-minute call Premium VISA service

Other Services

We can provide a range of services to make your internship experience unforgettable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Internships in Switzerland typically last a few months to a year. For Croatian nationals, from 2023 to 2024, there’s a new quota permit requirement, affecting the ease of obtaining necessary permits.

Yes, formal internship contracts detailing duties, duration, working hours, and remuneration are required.

Paid internships are common, with variable remuneration across sectors. Unpaid internships are prevalent, especially in academic-linked programs.

EU citizens must register with the local residents’ office and obtain a residence permit for internships over three months. Croatians must be aware of the new quota permit requirement.

Yes, interns receive a Swiss social security number upon registration, vital for employment-related processes.

Yes, interns are subject to social security contributions for pension, unemployment insurance, and other benefits, varying by internship type.

Interns are covered by general labor laws, ensuring fair compensation based on industry standards and living costs.

Interns are subject to income tax, with rates varying by canton. Non-resident interns have taxes deducted directly from their salary.

 Significant changes include the implementation of the global minimum tax, affecting taxable income, tax rates, and deductions for interns.

Key steps include researching and applying for internships, understanding visa requirements, securing accommodation, registering with local authorities, opening a Swiss bank account, arranging health insurance, and familiarizing oneself with local culture and language.

Non-EU interns need to be highly qualified, typically with a university degree and relevant experience. Employers must show no suitable EU/EFTA candidates are available. For 2023/2024, there’s a quota of 8,500 permits for third-country nationals.

Types include Short-term Schengen Visa (Type C) for less than 90 days, National Visa (Type D) for longer internships, Student Visa, Work Visa for paid internships, Professional Training/Internship Visa, Au Pair Visa, Specialist Visa, and Humanitarian Visa.

Yes. The permit quotas remain unchanged from 2023. Non-EU/EFTA nationals have 8,500 permits. Post-Brexit, UK citizens have a separate quota. The UK-Switzerland Services Mobility Agreement is extended until 2025.

Internships for foreign students abroad are allowed for up to 12 months and must adhere to local salary and working conditions standards.

Yes. Internships during studies should not exceed half the study duration. Post-study internships, especially in international corporations, can last up to 18 months.

The process for non-EU citizens focuses on sectors with workforce shortages. Quotas haven’t been fully utilized recently; only 68% of B permits and 65% of L permits were used by late 2023.

Yes, they can work part-time jobs for up to 15 hours per week after six months of their course, subject to university approval.

Graduates from Swiss universities can apply for a six-month short-term residence permit to seek employment, with sufficient financial means and accommodation.

If you are interested in finding a job or internship in the Switzerland

Be sure to check out our board of vacancies.

Available vacancies in the Switzerland

Board of vacancies