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Move to St.Gallen

For many students, studying is associated with a change of residence. Whether visa, apartment search or insurances: There are quite a few questions to clarify before you start your studies. Here you will find important information that may be relevant before and after a move.

What to consider before arriving in St.Gallen

If you live in a country outside the EU or EFTA, you need a valid visa to enter Switzerland. Please note that it may take several months before a visa is issued. Therefore, apply for your visa at the Swiss representation in your country as early as possible.

You can find out about visa regulations and general entry requirements from the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). The FAQ on the requirements for entering Switzerland is also helpful.

Visa application procedure

If you are going to live in Switzerland for longer than three months, you need a residence permit. If you are not a citizen of an EU or EFTA member state, you must apply for a residence permit before you enter Switzerland. EU and EFTA nationals can also apply after they have entered the country. Check the fact sheets of the Migration Office of the Canton of St. Gallen (only in German) to find out which documents you need to submit.

If you have any questions about your residence permit, you can contact the Dean’s Advisory Office (Assessment, Bachelor and Master students), the PhD Office (doctoral students) or the Student Mobility Services (exchange students).

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, special regulations must be respected when entering Switzerland. You can find the current guidelines on the website of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

Students from EU/EFTA countries with a B residence permit may work up to 15 hours per week in a paid part-time job during the semester. A workload of 100% is allowed during the semester break. You must report the respective work activity to the cantonal migration office of your place of residence.

Students from third countries with a B residence permit can apply to the cantonal Office for Economy and Labour to be able to work to the same extent.

You can find more information about job opportunities in St.Gallen on the job portal of the University of St.Gallen.

St.Gallen has a wide range of flats and shared rooms to offer. The Housing Service of the University of St.Gallen arranges furnished rooms for visiting students. Apartments are offered by students on the Marketplace in the SHSG Campus App. Another tip is to join the Facebook group Sharing is Caring, where many students post flat advertisements. 

When looking for a flat, you should have the following documents ready, provided you have them:

  • Copy of your residence permit and personal ID
  • Copy of your employment contract
  • excerpt from the debt collection registry

It is also common for the landlord to ask for a security deposit of up to three months' rent. Usually, the landlord opens a Swiss bank account in the tenant’s name into which the deposit is paid. The deposit amount remains blocked for both the landlord and the tenant until the tenancy is terminated. In some cases, landlords also require a personal liability and household insurance. If you encounter any legal uncertainties when concluding a rental agreement, you can contact the Municipal Housing Office (only in German) for free legal advice.

What to consider after arriving at St.Gallen

Entry: If you are entering Switzerland from abroad, you must register in person at the population services of the local authority (municipality) within 14 days of arrival.

Move: If you are already resident in Switzerland, you must also report your move to the residents' office of your new local municipality within 14 days.

Late notification of moving in or out will be sanctioned with a fine.

Please contact your local municipality to find out which documents must be presented for registration in addition to your identity card, tenancy agreement and health insurance card.  

If you are moving to the city of St.Gallen, you will find detailed information on this website (only in German).

Health insurance

If you are studying in Switzerland for more than three months, you must have health insurance from the date you move here. Holders of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and privately insured students whose health insurance company ensures equivalent insurance coverage according to the Swiss Health Insurance Act (KVG) can be exempted from compulsory health insurance. To do so, fill out the certificate form of the City of St.Gallen (only in German).

 

Old age insurance (OASI)

Everyone who is resident and/or gainfully employed in Switzerland is subject to the compulsory old age and survivors’ insurance (OASI). People who are not gainfully employed have to start paying their contributions as from January 1 after they have reached the age of 20. Foreign students who are not gainfully employed are only covered by the OASI and are liable to pay contributions if their place of residence under civil law is in Switzerland.

 

Personal liability insurance and household insurance

Personal liability insurance is a voluntary insurance that indemnifies you against third parties’ claims for damages to property or personal injuries. If, for instance, you cause some damage to your rented flat, the insurance company will bear the costs. Some landlords explicitly demand evidence of such an insurance policy. Again, many insurers combine personal liability insurance and household insurance. The latter bears the costs of damage to household effects within the amount insured.

According to the latest survey by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) in 2020, you should have a monthly budget of about CHF 2,200 to CHF 2,600.

Cost of studies

Financing your studies

Procedure for students with visa requirements

You need a national D-type visa to study in Switzerland. Ask the Swiss representative office in good time which documents and proof are required for a visa application. Prepare the visa application very carefully. A missing document or one that is not submitted properly may lead to week-long delays.

Submit your application to the Swiss representative office. They will forward the application to the Swiss cantonal migration office. You will be notified as soon as your visa is ready for collection at the Swiss representative office.

If you give the canton of St.Gallen as your future place of residence, your visa application will be processed by the migration office of the canton of St.Gallen. Should it come to inexplicable delays, we may try to obtain information on the status of your entry application from the migration office for the canton of St.Gallen.

Letter of admission: We will send you an official letter of admission to your Compass mailbox if you are admitted to your desired degree programme. Please print this document in colour and enclose the print-out with your visa application. (We do not send letters of admission by post)

Semester invoice: You will also receive an invoice for the tuition fees for the first semester with the letter of admission. Please pay this invoice and enclose the invoice and confirmation of payment with your visa application. If you also require an official payment confirmation from the University of St.Gallen, please let us know immediately (admissionsunisg.ch). We will be happy to email you this document as soon as your payment is credited to our account.

Confirmation of matriculation: If you also need a confirmation of matriculation for your visa application, then please let us know immediately (admissionsunisg.ch). We will be happy to email this document to you.

Proof of sufficient financial means: The visa authorities request, among other things, proof that you have sufficient financial means to cover your stay in Switzerland. In your visa application you must, therefore, generally furnish proof that you have at least CHF 24,000. The visa authority accepts account statements from Swiss banks or from banks with a branch or representative office in Switzerland. The account must be in your name and you must have the money available in the account. Please note that documents will be issued in German or English.

Written pledge to leave: The migration authorities may also ask for a statement confirming that you will leave Switzerland after you complete your degree.   

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