The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) gives Swiss and EU citizens the right to live and work anywhere within the territories of the contracting parties. In addition to the free movement of persons, the agreement provides for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, the coordination of social security systems and the right to acquire property.
Free movement of persons
The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) came into force on 1 June 2002 after the Swiss people had voted in favour of the AFMP and the other Bilateral I agreements in 2000.
Better residency and employment conditions
The AFMP and its additional protocols secure better residency and employment conditions for Swiss nationals in EU member states and EU citizens in Switzerland. It permits nationals of either contracting party to access the job market of the other contracting party without discrimination. However, exercising the right of free movement is subject to certain conditions. For example, a valid employment contract is required for salaried employment, while self-employed individuals must provide evidence of self-employment. Individuals who are not gainfully employed, including students or pensioners, must have comprehensive health insurance and sufficient funds so that they do not need to claim social security.
Gradual extension of the free movement of persons
The AFMP came into force on 1 June 2002. With each enlargement of the EU, the AFMP has been extended to the new EU Member States through an additional protocol.
Croatia joined the EU on 1 July 2013. The conditions for the extension of the AFMP to Croatia were negotiated in an additional protocol (Protocol III). On 1 January 2017, the AFMP was extended to Croatia.
Safeguard clause for Croatia
The Federal Council has activated the safeguard clause with effect from 1 January 2023 and extended it to 2024. Croatian nationals will now require a quota permit if they wish to take up gainful employment in Switzerland after this date. Both the short-term L permit and the B residence permit for Croatian nationals are subject to quotas from 1 January 2023.
You can find further information on the SEM-Website: FAQ – Free Movement of Persons
The AFMP has ceased to apply to the UK since 31 December 2020 due to Brexit. However, British citizens living in Switzerland before that date will retain their acquired rights under the AFMP.
The AFMP provides for the coordination of national social security schemes without requiring any convergence of systems. It therefore safeguards the social security rights of individuals who choose to exercise their right of free movement between Switzerland and the EU.
Under the AFMP, Switzerland also participates in the European diploma recognition system. The AFMP makes it easier for EU and Swiss citizens and Swiss nationals to have their qualifications recognised in the territory of the other contracting party.
To protect employees from abusive undercutting of Swiss standard wage and working conditions, Switzerland implemented accompanying measures in connection with the introduction of free movement on 1 June 2004. The accompanying measures are also intended to ensure a level playing field for Swiss and foreign companies.
Since 1 June 2002, when the EFTA Convention, as amended, came into force, the free movement of persons rules in effect between Switzerland and the EU have also applied to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member countries, i.e. Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Special freedom of movement rules also apply between Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
- Free movement of persons with the United Kingdom ends (Brexit, 31 December)
- Swiss voters reject the popular initiative 'For moderate immigration' initiative (Limitation Initiative) (61.7 % against, 27 September)
- Entry into force of the legislation implementing Article 121a of the Federal Constitution (1 July)
- Entry into force of Protocol III (extension of the AFMP to Croatia, 1 January)
- Parliamentary decision on implementing Article 121a of the Federal Constitution governing control of immigration (16 December)
- Adoption of the popular initiative 'Stop Mass Immigration' (Art. 121a BV) (50.3 % in favour, 9 February)
- Protocol II to the AFMP enters into force (1 June)
- Approval of continuation of the AFMP and of Protocol II (extension of the AFMP to Bulgaria and Romania) by the electorate (59.6 % in favour, 8 February)
- Protocol I to the AFMP enters into force (1 April)
- Approval of Protocol I (extension of the AFMP to the ten countries that joined the EU in 2004) by the electorate (59.6 % in favour, 25 September)
- AFMP enters into force (1 June)
- Approval of the AFMP in the popular vote on the Bilateral I agreements (67.2 % in favour, 21 May)
- AFMP signed (as part of the Bilateral I agreements package, 25 June)
Texts of agreement
Agreement on the free movement of persons - Official Journal
Proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion of a Protocol to the Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the free movement of persons, to take account of the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union
Free movement of persons: State Secretariat for Migration SEM
Useful addresses and websites
European Union (EU)