Swiss cards

Applicable to:  members of the personnel and their family members

General

Information COVID-19

Please note that owing to the situation surrounding COVID-19, the Cards Service and the Users Office will be closed to the public as of Monday 16th March until further notice. For urgent card collections please contact: HR-cards.support@cern.ch or Users.office@cern.ch depending your status. 

     You will find answers to frequently asked questions and changes in procedures here.

Thank you for understanding & stay well!

The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAE) issues a carte de légitimation to members of the CERN personnel and their family members subject to the following conditions of award. 
Members of the personnel who hold a carte de légitimation enjoy immunity from jurisdiction in Switzerland in exercising their functions. 
In addition, a carte de légitimation (hereinafter referred to as Swiss card) entitles the holder to live in Switzerland and to travel within the Schengen Area without a visa.  

Conditions of award

To obtain a Swiss card, the general conditions relating to the contract of employment or of association are as follows:  

  • working time > 50 %

  • contract duration > 3 months

  • home institute located outside Switzerland.

The category of document issued differs according to the nationality and type of contract of the individual in question, as shown in the table below:

Nationality Category of Members of the Personnel Type of card Members of the family
Resident in Switzerland Resident in France
Not Swiss national Staff Members in grades 1 to 4 E card (violet)
 

A Swiss card must be obtained for spouse/partner and children who meet the following conditions of award:

  • they must not be of Swiss nationality,
  • they must live under the same roof as the member of the personnel,
  • children must be unmarried and dependent on the member of the personnel.

The application for a Swiss card must be made as soon as the child is born. The card is withdrawn once the age of 25 is reached. They must then apply for a residence permit themselves from the Office cantonal de la population et des migrations if they wish to remain in Switzerland.

Family members wishing to take up gainful employment in Switzerland must apply for a 'permis Ci' certificate.

Swiss cards are not normally issued to family members residing in France.
Staff Members in grades 5 to 8
and Fellows
D card (brown)
Staff Members in grades 9 and 10 C card (pink)
Director-General and Directors B card (pink)
Associated members of the personnel
Users, Administrative Students, Technical Students, Doctoral Students, Cooperation Associates, Project Associates, Scientific Associates, Corresponding Associates, Visiting Scientists, Guest Professors and Trainees. 
P card (blue)
 
Swiss nationals

All members of the personnel who are Swiss nationals, regardless of their salary position and contract type, but excluding all other associated members of the personnel.

S card (green)

Swiss cards are not issued to family members. If they are not of Swiss nationality, they must apply for a residence permit from the Office cantonal de la population et des migrations.

N.B.:
- Staff members in Salary Bands Bc, Cc or Ce before 1st September 2016 keep their D-type legitimation card.
- Apprentices who do not have Swiss nationality receive a permit under ordinary Swiss law.
- Administrative, technical and doctoral students who already held an E-type legitimation card before 1st September 2016 are entitled to keep it until the end of their contract with CERN.

Procedure

1. Administrative responsibilities

The administrative service responsible for the handling depends on the category of the member of the personnel concerned:

  1. Staff Members (STAF), Fellows (FELL), Apprentices (APPR), Project Associates (PJAS), Scientific (SASS), Corresponding (CASS), Guest Professors (GPRO), Students (DOCT, TECH, ADMI) and Trainees (TRNE)

    • must contact the Cards Service for all affairs relating to Swiss cards, with the exception of the collecting of Swiss cards;

    • are informed by the Cards Service as soon as their Swiss card is available. They must then collect it from the CERN Internal mail office.

  2. Users (USER), Cooperation Associate (COAS) and Visiting Scientists (VISC) must always contact the Users Office that informs them also about the collecting of their Swiss card.

In the following text these responsibilities are referred to, according to the category of the member of the personnel.

2. First application

2.1 Necessary substantiating documentation

  Member of the personnel Spouse/Partner Child/Children
Photo taken by the CERN Registration Service
(The photograph appearing on the Swiss card will be the one taken upon issue of the CERN access card. Each family member applying for a Swiss card must visit the Registration Service to have their photograph taken.)
yes yes yes
A scanned photocopy of the passport or ID card (both sides) yes yes yes
A scanned photocopy of the Swiss visa (where applicable) yes yes yes
A scanned photocopy of the marriage certificate or parnership certificate (Document drafted in or translated into French, English, German, Spanish or Italian.) no yes no
A scanned photocopy of the birth certificate (Document drafted in or translated into French, English, German, Spanish or Italian.) no no yes

2.2 New arrivals

The procedure depends on the category of the member of the personnel concerned:

  1. Staff Members (STAF), Fellows (FELL), Apprentices (APPR), Project Associates (PJAS), Scientifc (SASS), Corresponding (CASS), Guest Professors (GPRO), Students (DOCT, TECH, ADMI) and Trainees (TRNE):
    No further formalities to complete as new arrivals have already uploaded the substantiating documentation (scanned photocopy of their passport or ID card, visa if applicable) during the contract preparation phase.

  2. Users (USER), Cooperation Associate (COAS) and Visiting Scientists (VISC) must go to the Users Office on the first day of their contract, presenting all necessary documentation for themselfs and their family members, in order to apply for a Swiss card.

2.3 Special cases: holders of Swiss "permis" (residence or work permits)

2.3.1 For members of the personnel

Except for trainees and associated members of the personnel whose home institute is Swiss, members of the personnel must surrender their Swiss work or residence permit (e.g. "permis frontalier type G", "permis C" or "permis B") to the Cards Service upon taking up their appointment at CERN. The permit will be returned to the Swiss authorities along with the carte de legitimation application file.
Trainees (TRNE) with a standard permit (L, B or C) may retain it provided that they meet certain conditions, which are examined on a case-by-case basis by the Cards Service.

Associated members of the personnel whose home institute is Swiss must in all cases retain their standard Swiss permit or obtain one via their home institute. N.B. Non-European nationals who do not have the right to long-term residence in France are not entitled to a cross-border commuter (frontalier) permit (cf. the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration website). They are therefore obliged to reside in Switzerland if their home institute is Swiss.

2.3.2 For family members 

Under the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons, family members who are nationals of a Member State of the European Union or European Free Trade Association and who are allowed to enter Switzerland on the grounds of family reunification may ask the Cantonal Population Office of their canton of residence to be issued with a residence permit (B permit) instead of a legitimation card. Family members who hold a permit are subject to Swiss law and are not entitled to privileges or immunities. (cf. section 2.3 of the Guidelines regarding the issuance of legitimation cards of the FDFA to staff members of international organisations, entry into force on 15 July 2015, amended on 16 July 2019).

Family members who already hold a Swiss ordinary permit may ask the Cantonal Population Office of their canton of residence to keep their permit instead of exchanging it for a legitimation card. Family members who hold a permit are subject to Swiss law and are not entitled to privileges or immunities. If the family members who are not nationals of a Member States of the EU or the EFTA decide to receive a legitimation card in exchange for their permit, this choice is absolute and must be done within two months of the principal beneficiary taking up their duties. (cf. section 4.1 of the Guidelines regarding the issuance of legitimation cards of the FDFA to staff members of international organisations, entry into force on 15 July 2015, amended on 16 July 2019).

2.4 Processing of the application

The file is sent to the Swiss authorities electronically and the card will be issued within approximately 2-3 weeks.
Members of the personnel are informed of the arrangements for collecting their Swiss card (see procedure paragraphe 1).

3. Application for a "permis Ci" certificate

This work permit can only be requested for family members who wish to take up gainful employment in Switzerland and meet the conditions of award of a B, C, D, E or P-type legitimation document.

To this end, the applicant must complete the on-line application form, print it out, sign it and forward it to the Cards Service/Users Office, depending on the member of the personnel category.

The "permis Ci" certificate is then sent directly to the applicant's home address – not via CERN – within a minimum of three weeks.

Additional information:

4. Renewal

Applications for extensions can only be made six weeks before the card's expiry date, at the earliest. The card of each family member must be renewed at the same time as that of the member of the personnel.

4.1 Supporting documents required by the responsible service

  • the card (and those of the family members where applicable),

  • a photocopy of both sides of each card,

  • a photocopy of the passport or ID card,

  • a recent, passport-format photograph if the cards were issued more than 4 years previously.

4.2 Processing of the application

A certified copy will be issued to the member of the personnel.
The file is sent to the Swiss authorities and the card will be issued within approximately 2-3 weeks.
Members of the personnel are informed of the arrangements for collecting their Swisscard (see procedure paragraphe 1).

5. Removals from France to Switzerland

Firstly, the member of personnel must register their new private address via Changement d'adresse locale / Change of local address in EDH.

The HR Department is responsible for informing the Swiss mission of changes of private address. However, members of personnel are recommended by Swiss authorities to announce their arrival in Switzerland as well as any change of address with 14 days:

For information on the export/import formalities relating to personal effects and vehicles, please consult the web pages of the Installation Service.

N.B.: For the member of the personnel, a change in the country of residence does not require any change in carte de legitimation.

The initial application procedure must be followed for family members who fulfil the conditions of award.

6. Removals from Switzerland to France

Firstly, the member of personnel must register their new private address via Changement d'adresse locale / Change of local address in EDH.​ Where applicable, the Swiss cards of family members must be surrendered to the Cards Service/Users Office, depending on the member of the personnel category, for cancellation.

The HR Department is responsible for informing the Swiss mission of changes of private address. However, members of the personnel are recommended by Swiss authorities to announce their departure from Switzerland as well as any change of address with 14 days:

For information on the formalities relating to the French card, see the corresponding procedure

For information on the export/import formalities relating to personal effects and vehicles, please consult the web pages of the Installation Service.

A departure certificate is mandatory for certain formalities relating to a departure from Switzerland (customs, insurance companies, etc.). It is valid for two months and can be issued no earlier than one month prior departure.

The procedures to follow are the following:

  • For members of the personnel leaving the Canton of Geneva, it is strongly recommended to:

    • send by post the form "departure announcement" and a copy of their carte de légitimation du Département fédéral des Affaires étrangères to the Office cantonal de la population et des migrations de Genève, or;

    • appear in person before the Office cantonal de la population et des migrations (OCPM) à Onex with their carte de légitimation du Département fédéral des Affaires étrangères.

  • For members of the personnel leaving the Canton of Vaud, it is stongly recommended to:

    • appear in person before the Contrôle de l'habitant of their local municipal authority (Commune) with their carte de légitimation du Département fédéral des Affaires étrangères.

N.B.: For the member of the personnel, a change in the country of residence does not require any change in carte de legitimation.

7. Loss, theft

In the event of loss or theft of his carte de légitimation, the member of personnel must complete the  "Declaration of loss or theft" request available in the Service Portal. After completing it, the member of personnel receives the number and the date of issue of the lost/stolen card and then follows the steps below.

7.1 Procedure to follow

7.1.1 Loss

In the event of loss in Switzerland or abroad, the member of personnel must:

7.1.2 Theft

In the event of theft in Switzerland, the member of personnel must:

In the event of theft abroad, the member of personnel must:

7.2 Supporting documents required by the responsible service

List of documents to be provided below: 

  • a photocopy of the loss/theft declaration ;

  • a photocopy of the passport or ID card ;

  • a recent photo, passport-format, if the cards were established more than 4 years ago.

7.3 Processing of the application

The file is sent to the Swiss authorities in Geneva and the card will be re-issued within approximately 2-3 weeks.
Members of the personnel are informed of the arrangements for collecting their Swiss card (see procedure paragraph 1) as soon as it has been received by the Cards Service / Users' Office.

8. Other reasons for changing cards

8.1 Promotion (for Staff Members only)

Promotion to grade 5 and grade 9 give rise to a change in Swiss card (except for holders of S-type cards, i.e. Staff Members who are Swiss nationals). Following their promotion, the Staff Members in question are notified by e-mail of the documents to be submitted to the Cards Service.

9.2 Change of name or nationality

Any change of name or nationality may give rise to a change in Swiss card. In such cases, please contact the Cards Service/Users Office, depending on the member of the personnel category.

9. Surrendering cards

9.1 Contract expiry

Upon contract expiry, the cards of the member of the personnel and family members must be surrendered to the Cards Service/Users Office, depending on the member of the personnel category.
If necessary, the member of the personnel can be given a certified copy, in particular to facilitate the departure travel.

Surrendering these cards is a pre-condition for the issue of other documents by the Swiss authorities in the future (residence permits, etc.).

Persons wishing to maintain their principal place of residence in Switzerland after expiry of their contract must apply for a residence permit either from Office cantonal de la population et des migrations de Genève or from Contrôle des habitants du canton de Vaud.

Under certain conditions, a courtesy period or a usual delay may be granted by the Permanent Mission of Switzerland. For further details, the members of the personnel may contact the Cards Service/Users Office, depending on the member of the personnel category.

Courtesy period

People who require a visa for their stay in Switzerland must be in possession of a valid carte de légitimation when they leave the country. Departure must take place before the expiry of the courtesy period allowed by the Swiss authorities, i.e. 2 months following the end of the employment contract.
 
Applications to extend the validity of the carte de légitimation must be completed at least one month before its expiry in order to be sure that the person has it in their possession upon departure.
 
If travelling through another country in the Schengen Area en route to the destination country, the carte de légitimation must be presented to the border police along with the travel document (passport).
 
Upon arrival in the destination country, the carte de légitimation must be returned to the Swiss Permanent Mission, either by sending it back to CERN, or by handing it in to the local Swiss Embassy or Consulate.

9.2 Special leave

Members of the personnel who have been granted special leave or an authorised absence (unpaid) must surrender their card and those of family members before their leave period commences if it lasts more than 2 months.

Persons wishing to maintain their principal place of residence in Switzerland during their period of special leave must apply for a residence permit either from Office cantonal de la population et des migrations de Genève or from Contrôle des habitants du canton de Vaud.

Revisions 

No revision Modifications Approved
1 Applications for extensions can only be made six weeks before the card's expiry date, at the earliest.  11.03.2014
2 Documentation of Swiss cards for members of the personnel managed by the Users Office; details reagarding courtesy period granted at termination of contract.  10.11.2014
3 Members of the personnel are invited to contact the local authorities (Office cantonal de la population de Genève-OCPM) to register their new address. 02.02.2016
4 Guidelines regarding the issuance of FDFA legitimation cards (entry into force on 15 January 2016). 15.01.2016
5 Courtesy period for people who require a visa for their stay in Switzerland. 22.04.2016
6 New career structure on 01.09.2016. Council, 15.12.2015
7 Clarification for MPA whose home institute is Swiss. 19.12.2017
8 The Swiss card must be returned during a special leave or an authorised absence (unpaid) if it lasts more than 2 months. 08.03.2019
9 New special cases for family members holding or wishing a Swiss permit. 06.09.2019
10
Following a communication from the Swiss Mission, modification of the procedure for thefts and losses of Swiss cards. Two new forms for the declaration of loss or theft.
12.11.2019
11 Modification on paragraphs 5 and 6 (removal from France to Switzerland / Switzerland to France) 14.02.2020
12 Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no visa is currently issued by the French authorities. 18.05.2020
13 Visa type D applications are once again accepted by the French authorities. 17.06.2020