I'm a French citizen living and working in France. I've been doing mostly remote work since March (due to covid-19) and I'm potentially looking for another job, I've seen a couple job offers for 100% remote jobs with companies in different countries (EU but also Switzerland or Norway) but before applying to anything I'd like to know exactly how stuff would work. I will keep living in France.

From what I’ve gathered I can work freely in any EU country (as well as Norway), but for Switzerland I might need a permit (that I'm almost guaranteed to get as a EU citizen that already found an employer)?

Then comes the question of social contributions (health care, unemployment benefits and retirement) and income taxes, where do I pay them and what happens when I need them (as in which country rules applies for sick leaves, medical bills, unemployment benefits and retirement)


1 Answer 1


As an American living in Germany and working in Switzerland, I can address some of these:


As an EU citizen you can get a work permit in Switzerland. But there's a priority system for employment in Switzerland:

  1. Swiss citizens
  2. EU citizens
  3. Other citizens

The company that employs you has to be able to show evidence that they couldn't find a Swiss citizen for the job in order to hire an EU citizen. (In my case as an American, they had to show they couldn't find a Swiss citizen or an EU citizen. Luckily the job I applied for had been open for some 9 months.)


You will pay a small amount of tax in Switzerland, and a larger amount in France. The Swiss tax is automatically withheld. You are responsible for paying the French tax. In Germany I get a document every year from the German tax office showing me how much I need to pay each quarter.

Social contributions and insurance

My understanding in these areas is vague. As a cross-border commuter, I need to have Swiss health insurance (there are agreements with German insurance companies that make this not too expensive) and I also need to have Swiss accident insurance (which I've used in the last few months due to a cycling injury). As a 100% remote worker it wouldn't make sense for you to need these things, but that's not the same as saying you don't need them. You should check.

The accident insurance applies even if you don't live in Switzerland, and even if the accident doesn't occur there (though in my case it did). You can be treated anywhere, but if you're not treated in Switzerland, you'll generally need to show your normal (French) health insurance card and then either you'll need to submit claims manually to the accident insurance, or possibly they and the French insurance will be able to work it out without your input if you tell the accident insurance company the details.

Also withdrawn from my paycheck is payment into the Swiss retirement system, and I think it's likely this will apply to you even if you don't live in Switzerland.

  • 1
    True, but that's likely to have some major downsides, such as zero notice period in the event his services are no longer required.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 8:43
  • 1
    I am an employee and want to remain an employee pretty much for the reasons @Kyralessa said. I'm really not looking into going self employed in the covid-era
    – Programmer
    Commented Nov 12, 2020 at 8:11
  • 1
    The French/Swiss case is likely to be different from your situation and from the generic scenario the OP has in mind. There are also many cross-border workers based in France and established rules on taxes, healthcare, etc. (which actually differ depending on the canton). The OP is not asking about that (s/he is not planning on being in Switzerland physically) but I suspect they would be triggered anyway.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 17:19
  • 1
    As an example, French-based workers in Vaud, Valais/Wallis, Neuchâtel, Jura, Berne, Bâle-ville/Basel-Stadt, Bâle-campagne/Basel-Landschaft and Soleure/Solothurn do not pay any tax in Switzerland and can avoid withholding if they give their Swiss employer a document they can get from the French tax office. Workers in Geneva pay the full income tax in Geneva and do not owe any in France.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 17:23
  • 1
    As an aside, are you sure there is a priority system between Swiss residents and EU citizens? I thought there was a yearly quota but no priority (i.e. employers don't need to show they couldn't find anyone locally but can be forced to wait if there are no permits left, permits are presumably allocated on a first come first serve basis).
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 17:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.