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German language skills for work & residence permit in Switzerland in 2021

For everybody who has ever thought about living and working in Switzerland there is one important thing that has to be done upon arrival. Which is…. 

You guessed it! 

Sorting out your work and residence permit. 

Recent changes in 2020 regarding stricter language requirements that have been made by Swiss authorities led to some confusion in terms of what is required and what is not. 

Have you also been at times confused by new rules and regulations? Or are you unsure about exactly what language level you need for your permit?

Well then look no further…

In this article I will tell you everything you need to know regarding your language skills for work and residence permits in Switzerland in 2021.


So, first of all… 

Which visas/permits are affected by the new regulations?

The affected permits are the B (temporary residence) and C (permanent residence) permits. 

Who is affected by the language requirements?

B permit: Only non-EU citizens have to meet the language requirements 

C-permit: All foreign nationals have to meet the language requirements, except for some countries that have an agreement with Switzerland, meaning that their citizens do not have to prove their language skills to obtain a permanent residence permit.

Currently these countries are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Greece
  • Liechtenstein

Which language level do you need for which situation?

In the following paragraphs I will explain to you which language level you will need for which permit. 

B working permit

The B permit is for resident foreign nationals who reside in Switzerland for a longer period of time for a certain purpose. The B permit is valid for 5 years. You will need A1 speaking and A1 writing skills.

Permanent residence C permit

The Swiss C permit is the equivalent of Swiss permanent residency, allowing a non-Swiss citizen to work and live in Switzerland without any restrictions. It can be obtained after staying in Switzerland for ten uninterrupted years. To apply for the C permit you need A2 speaking and A1 writing skills.

Fast-track residence C permit

To obtain a fast-track residence permit after five years of uninterrupted residence in Switzerland you need B1 speaking and A1 writing skills.

Swiss nationality

Besides a citizenship test that will proof your knowledge about Switzerland you will need B1 speaking and A2 writing skills to become a Swiss citizen.

Where can you obtain your language certificate?

Your language certificate has to be government approved. Two of the most common recognized language certificates are the telc and Goethe test. However, they are not the only ones. You can find the whole list of government approved language courses here.


Thank you for reading my article! Drop a comment if you liked it or if you still have a question.

Hear you soon,



  1. Hi Anna, if you come from an EU country you do not need any language requirements for B Permit for first or renewal.

    • Hi Nicholas,
      yes that`s correct – only non-EU citizens must prove A1 writing & speaking skills.
      Thank you for the input!

  2. I was very pleased to find this internet-site. I want to thank you for putting together all this information. I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post. Kathie Devonne

    • Thank you so much. I`m glad that you enjoyed the article!

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