Buying a main residence

Foreigners from third states (not EU or EFTA) resident in Switzerland who do not hold a C permit may buy a single-family house or owner-occupied flat in their actual place of residence without having to obtain authorisation. (The same goes for buying land to build on, but construction must begin within one year). In both cases, the buyer must live in the dwelling and cannot rent it out, even in part.


In June 2016 the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. It will remain an EU member while negotiations are carried out. After that, it is not clear how Brexit will affect British citizens wanting to live in Switzerland.

Generally there are no limitations on how big the living area may be, but the buyer can only purchase one residential unit. The property cannot be so large to be regarded as being purely for investment purposes. There is some concern when the property size covers more than 3,000 sq. metres, at which time the land registry will intervene to rule on whether such cases should be allowed.

If you move, it is not compulsory to sell the property. The owner may continue to use it as a secondary or holiday residence, or even rent it to third parties.

The owner may also purchase another home in a new place of residency without having to sell the first one. However, a buyer who has no intention of living in the second home permanently is in violation of the law. Changing where you live for the sole purpose of being able to purchase several dwellings without requiring authorisation is strictly forbidden. In such cases, the authorities can make the buyer apply for authorisation for other properties retroactively or even order the sales to be revoked.

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