Information for people seeking protection from Ukraine

On this page, refugees from Ukraine can find information on finding accommodation in accordance with Switzerland’s regular registration process. You will also find various other information in the FAQ.

Federal Asylum Centres (FAC) with processing facilities

Rue de l’Hôpital 60
2017 Boudry
+41 58 465 03 03

Morillonstrasse 75
3007 Bern
+41 58 465 75 80

Freiburgerstrasse 50
4057 Basel
+41 58 482 12 82

Schöntalstrasse 2
9450 Altstätten
+41 58 480 49 50

Duttweilerstrasse 11
8005 Zürich
+41 58 480 14 80

Proper registration process in Switzerland for protection seekers from Ukraine

  1. After you crossed the border to Switzerland, whether by plane, bus, car, or train, you are advised to apply for the special protection status S. It grants you with temporary residence permission in Switzerland for at least one year including free healthcare, social support, and integration services. To receive the protection status S, you need to fill out a form. Once you send the form, you receive an automatic reply (confirmation of receival) which serves as a temporary ID until you received the offical ID-card. From that moment on, you receive health insurance. You also receive an invitation to one of the six federal centers for asylum seekers (FCA). The invitation includes all information about where you need to go.  If you do not have accommodation yet and spontaneously need a place to sleep, you can also go to a FCA without an invitation. There you will be referred to suitable accommodation.
  2. Once you reached one of the FCA, an immigration officer will guide you through the initial registration process. The process has been simplified to reduce the waiting time, however, it will still require some patience due to a currently high number of asylum seekers. The immigration officer will consider your wish regarding accommodation, if possible. You can ask to stay in private accommodation offered by private people, or stay in a publicly managed residency. Depending on the circumstances (for example, arrival at night), you can sleep at the asylum center until the registration process has been concluded.
    a.
    Under certain circumstances (f.e. need for special protection against persecution due to political role), the FCA officer can allocate you to the accommodation of the FCA.
  3. If you were allocated to either the regional public housing or private housing, you are advised to go to the accommodation you were allocated to. With the confirmation e-mail you received initially, you are allowed to travel by public transport for free. The officer of the FCA will help you with finding the right public transport connection that takes you to your destination. More information regarding public transport can be found here: www.sbb.ch/fahrplan.
  4. After you have settled in your new accommodation (after a day or two), you are advised to go to the immigration office of the respective regional authority and register there. The FCA should have instructed you about the whereabouts of the regional office. If you did not receive information, ask your host or search online about the address of the regional migration office. Once you arrived at the regional immigration office, you receive a provisional document proving the legitimacy of your stay in Switzerland for at least one year (assuming you received the protection status S at the FCA). Important: Ask the immigration officer how you need to apply for social services!
  5. Finally, you can apply for social services with the document the regional immigration officer handed to you. If you have not yet received information about how or where you can apply, you are advised to check on the website of the social services department of the region you were allocated to. This process might vary depending on the region you were allocated to.

*This process is a recommendation and not binding. If you prefer to arrange accommodation by yourself, you are free to do so. You have the right to move freely within the Schengen area for 90 days without seeking asylum or applying for a visa. Please note that without registration at one of the asylum centers you are not eligible for any financial support.

FAQ - Questions and Answers

Do refugees from Ukraine have to register with a government agency?

First and foremost, it is important to register at one of the six federal asylum centres in order to apply for asylum or S protection status. The Federal Asylum Centre forwards the information to the relevant cantonal and communal authorities. Depending on the cantonal regulations, social assistance benefits must be requested from the commune, for which you must report to the administration. If you have a child under your care, you must register them with the commune for compulsory schooling.

How can I apply for asylum?

Any person may apply for asylum upon entry at a border crossing point, at the border control of a Swiss airport or directly at one of the six federal asylum centres with a procedural function; the State Secretariat for Migration SEM examines each of these applications individually and carefully according to the specific circumstances in each case. In doing so, it determines whether the refugee status of the asylum seeker is fulfilled. Cf. Article 3 of the “Asylum Act”. Information on the locations of the federal asylum centres can be found here: https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/de/home/asyl/asylverfahren/asylregionen-baz.html

Where are the asylum centres?

Note that not all asylum centres carry out the reception procedure. There are 6 centres that carry out the reception procedure (Federal Asylum Centres with Procedural Function – BAZmV). In the following link you will find all asylum centres in Switzerland: https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/de/home/asyl/adressen.html

I am alone with heavy luggage. Can someone help me with transport?

Once you have been assigned to accommodation, it is possible to contact your host to arrange a pick-up. Otherwise, you will have to rely on free public transport or taxis.

Can I enter Switzerland without a biometric passport?

Yes. Switzerland shows solidarity and grants exemptions to Ukrainian nationals who do not have a biometric travel document or visa, as well as to Ukrainians who have not received a COVID-19 vaccination, unless there are compelling reasons for refusing entry in individual cases. In addition, Ukrainians may also enter Switzerland without travel documents, provided they can credibly demonstrate that they left their country because of the conflict.

How do I get to the allocated accommodation?

The Alliance SwissPass has decided that refugees from Ukraine may use the public transport network free of charge (2nd class) until 31 May 2022. You can therefore reach your accommodation by bus or train. You can find more information about the connection here: www.sbb.ch/fahrplan

Can I take my pet with me to Switzerland?

Yes, pets can be taken along. Please refer to the information provided by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office. A registration form must be completed for the entry of the pet.

How can I find a missing person?

The Swiss Red Cross offers a service to help people seeking protection find relatives who are considered missing: https://www.infobox-migration.ch/en/consultation/src-tracing-service-search-for-missing-person

Do you have a hotline in case I require help?

If the information on this website does not answer your query, you can obtain information from the respective Office for Migration of the canton of your accommodation or call the SEM hotline: +41 (0)58 465 99 11.

Can I get a job?

If you have been granted protection status S, you can work on a self-employed basis as well as an employee. The following website lists a number of job centres where you can apply for a job: https://www.hiretheukrainian.com/mainjobboards; https://www.jobcloud.ch/c/en/ukraine-friendly-jobs-switzerland

How is the children’s access to school regulated?

Information on school attendance is available from the cantonal education office. In addition, the administration of the relevant municipality or city of your place of residence can also provide information. Access to school education is a fundamental social right guaranteed by the Swiss Federal Constitution. The obligation to attend school is also laid down in the Federal Constitution. This means that school attendance is compulsory and free of charge for all children who stay in one place in Switzerland for a longer period of time. The right to primary education is available to children and young people regardless of their nationality or residence status. Children and young people have the right to primary education regardless of their nationality or residence status. Information on school attendance is available from the municipality in the place of residence.

How do I get access to the internet and telephone communication?

Swisscom and Sunrise give you free internet access and telephony within Switzerland and for phone calls to Ukraine. To do so, go to a nearby Swisscom or Sunrise shop.

How do I open a bank account?

Postfinance is obliged to provide an account to every person residing in Switzerland. This is because it has a statutory basic service mandate. All private individuals with identity papers can open an account with Postbank, regardless of how long they have been in Switzerland.

Are there language courses to learn the local language?

Find out about this from the relevant cantonal social welfare office. In this list of cantonal migration offices you will find the telephone numbers of the corresponding social assistance office: https://ch-sodk.s3.amazonaws.com/media/files/48c17557/9d3e/4d8c/9388/632e40ac7511/Ansprechstellen_in_den_Kantonen_f%C3%BCr_Fragen_zur_Ukrain.pdf

Can I continue my studies at a Swiss university?

Yes, certain universities offer uncomplicated access to courses. You can find more information on the relevant universities here: https://www.swissuniversities.ch/en/topics/ukraine; In addition, you can find an overview of all English-language courses offered by Swiss universities in the following link: https://www.studyprogrammes.ch/en

What should I do in health emergencies?

You can go to the emergency room of a nearby hospital at any time. If you have already registered for protection status S or even if you have a provisional or definitive S permit, the costs will be covered by the corresponding health insurance. If you have not registered for protection status S, the costs must be covered by your own health or travel insurance. If you do not have your own health or travel insurance and cannot pay for the costs yourself, emergency assistance will apply. In this case, the doctor providing the service must apply for compensation for the service provided himself/herself.

How do I get an appointment with a doctor?

If you have registered for protection status S and have been assigned to a canton, you can report to the social welfare office of the corresponding canton. There you will be referred to a doctor. The costs will be covered by the health insurance fund. In this list of cantonal migration offices you will find the telephone numbers of the corresponding social assistance office: https://ch-sodk.s3.amazonaws.com/media/files/48c17557/9d3e/4d8c/9388/632e40ac7511/Ansprechstellen_in_den_Kantonen_f%C3%BCr_Fragen_zur_Ukrain.pdf. If you have not registered for protection status S, you can make an appointment with a doctor on your own. The costs must be covered by your insurance or (if not available) by you personally.

I am pregnant. If my child is born in Switzerland, who can help me?

The Swiss Mother and Child Help (SHMK) offers a hotline that can be reached at any time: 0800 811 100. In addition, the Mamamundo association (https://www.mamamundo.ch/en/) accompanies expectant mothers with a migration background. Financial support for participation in the courses depends on the current health insurance situation.

I need the help of a psychologist or a psychotherapist. Who can I contact?

For urgent help you can call the following numbers: 0848 800 858 (Pro Mente Sana), 058 400 47 77 (SRC), 143 (Helping Hand), 147 (Help for traumatised children and young people, Pro Juventute). For medium to long-term trauma management, the help of a psychologist must be sought. You can find support for this on the following websites: https://www.wie-gehts-dir.ch/adressen-und-angebote/ich-suche-unterstuetzung; https://www.wie-gehts-dir.ch/adressen-und-angebote/ich-suche-unterstuetzung. The SEM ensures that protection seekers traumatised by war events who are accommodated in the BAZ have access to psychological support via Medic-Help, then via the partner doctors and finally via the psychiatrists. In the cantons, the cantons are responsible for providing this service. For the rest, psychological care is covered by compulsory health insurance.

What does Swiss health insurance cover?

With health insurance, persons seeking protection have the right to basic medical care. However, the choice of doctor is limited. The instructions of the authority in charge in the canton where they are assigned are decisive. They explain to those seeking protection who they should contact in the event of illness, accident, psychological problems or pregnancy.

Can I get vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus in Switzerland?

Yes, refugees from Ukraine have the same access to Covid-19 vaccinations as the Swiss population.

Where can I get help with health-related questions?

Medgate has been operating a medical hotline free of charge for refugees since 4 April 2022 (058 387 77 20). The hotline can be reached daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the doctors speak German and English – from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Medgate also has an internal translation service for Russian.

How long can I stay in Switzerland?

Staying in Switzerland for the first 90 days after entry is permitted without a permit. After that, it is recommended to apply for protection status S in a Federal Asylum Centre with Procedural Function (BAZmV) or to apply for regular asylum according to your circumstances. This will allow you to stay in Switzerland temporarily.

How does Switzerland support me as a refugee?

The Confederation facilitates social and professional integration in Switzerland. All persons with protection status S receive social assistance from the canton – and they can pursue a job (including self-employment) without a waiting period. Children can go to school. Together with the cantons, the SEM will examine the needs of the persons admitted. The cantons are free to provide for further integration benefits.

Do you offer legal support?

Campax does not offer legal advice. You can get legal advice from organisations like Asylex (http://www.asylex.ch/ukraine / [email protected]). You can also find answers to the most common questions asked by refugees from Ukraine in this webinar by Asylex: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Eqvtuxvgbg

What does the protection status “S” mean?

With the protection status “S”, persons concerned receive protection in Switzerland quickly and unbureaucratically – without having to go through a regular asylum procedure. The protection status “S” grants a right of residence, entitlement to accommodation, financial support for living costs and medical care (health insurance and accident insurance) and allows family members to join them. And very important: the children can go to school. In addition, there is the possibility of taking up gainful employment subject to approval, after a waiting period of a maximum of 3 months. The persons concerned receive an S permit (Art. 45 AsylV 1). This permit is limited to a maximum of one year and can be extended. If the Federal Council has not revoked temporary protection after five years, persons in need of protection receive a B residence permit from the canton assigned to them (Art. 74 AsylA).

Is there financial aid for refugees?

Yes, asylum seekers and persons with protection status S receive compensation for living expenses (food, clothing, hygiene, etc.) in accordance with cantonal guidelines.

Is liability insurance for refugees necessary?

In contrast to health and accident insurance, there is no obligation to take out liability insurance. It must therefore be clarified with the cantonal or communal office responsible for asylum welfare whether liability insurance has been taken out for the protection seekers.

Can persons in need of protection from Ukraine who are currently accommodated in a federal asylum centre move to private accommodation?

Staff of the Swiss Refugee Council are present in the federal asylum centres. They arrange accommodation for Ukrainians on behalf of the SEM and in close cooperation with the cantons. Accommodation can be in cantonal facilities or with private individuals who have offered their support. The Swiss Refugee Council contacts potential hosts and arranges suitable accommodation for displaced persons from Ukraine. The Swiss Refugee Council also works with NGOs such as Campax, which have collected offers of help from the population. When refugees ask to be accommodated near relatives or acquaintances, this is accommodated wherever possible. In addition, refugees from Ukraine who are already living with friends or relatives can continue to do so.

What address should I give when applying for “S” protection status?

Make sure that you only answer the question during registration for S status “Do you have accommodation?” with “Yes, I/we are in accommodation” if this is available to you on a longer-term basis. If you have not yet found accommodation where you can stay in the medium to long term (at least 3 months) you should answer this question with “No, we do not have accommodation yet” when registering.

Can I travel abroad with protection status S?

Yes, you can continue to leave and enter Switzerland subject to the entry requirements of your destination country.

What is the difference between an asylum application and protection status S?

In the following document you will find the most important differences to asylum status and protection status S (only available in German): https://www.fluechtlingshilfe.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/Themen/Asyl_in_der_Schweiz/Aufenthaltsstatus/220313_Statusrechte.pdf