Before coming to IMAC – useful information

Visa requirement
You need a valid passport to enter Switzerland. If you are planning on staying for more than three months, and if you are not a citizen of an EU member country, you may need a working visa, and this must be obtained before you enter the country. In collaboration with your employer.
If you’re not sure, check this official list of entry and visa requirements for every country in the world

Residence permit
Anyone who is employed in Switzerland or who plans to stay for more than three months has to obtain a residence permit. You must register at the foreign resident’s office (contrôle des habitants) in the commune where you will be living within 8 days of your arrival in Switzerland. (This is why it is advisable to arrange your housing in advance!) more info for students on SAE visa.

Open a bank or Post account
You must have a bank or post account in Switzerland for the payment of your salary. A Post office and a Bank office (Crédit Suisse) are available on the campus.
To open an account you will need the following documents:
Foreigners based in Switzerland:
Passport ID card + student card or letter from EPFL confirming your employment or copy of your work contract. At the Post office you must also present the registration given by “contrôle des habitants ». You will not have this document if you stay less than 3 months as you don’t need to register for such a short period.
Swiss citizen:
Passport or ID card + student card of letter from EPFL confirming your employment or work contract.

Health insurance
Anyone who is spending more than 3 months in Switzerland is required to have health insurance coverage. Accident insurance is covered by EPFL for all employees.
Insurance cover is mandatory for any individual living in Switzerland, for further information visit “Office cantonal de contrôle” OCC and students affairs SAE welcome.
If you come from Europe, you are entitled to keep your insurance from your country of origin as long as you have the same cover as in Switzerland.
More information for students on SAE insurance.

Salary
Your host at EPFL will arrange with the EPFL human resources department any salary or housing allowance you will receive during your stay at EPFL. It is important to be sure this is arranged well in advance because the papers documenting any employment or financial remuneration in Switzerland will be part of your visa and residence permit applications.

Social Security
Anyone drawing a salary in Switzerland, for any length of time, must contribute to AVS, “old age and invalidity insurance.” Even if you leave after just a few months, the amount you have contributed will remain in your name and once you retire you will be eligible to draw upon this amount.

Taxes
If you are receiving any money (salary or stipend, housing allowance) from EPFL, it will be taxed at the source, i.e. before you receive it. You are not taxed in Switzerland for any salary you are drawing from your home institution while you are in Switzerland. (You are probably not exempt from tax in your home country on at least some of that salary, unless you declare non residence, and possibly on your Swiss salary as well. Best check with an accountant).

If you have questions relating to salary, taxes, and social charges, EPFL’s human resources officer
(pdf) for the School where you will be affiliated can help you. Have a look at EPFL HR

Housing
The greater Lausanne metropolitan area has a population of 200’000. Despite its size, it doesn’t have a true university campus and all students must find their own housing.
The number of rooms mentioned (les pièces) does not include the kitchen or bathroom. (3 rooms apartment = 1 living room, 2 bedrooms) The exception is a 1 room apartment (studio); there is a small kitchen, usually with two burners, a sink, a fridge but often no oven is integrated, and a separate bathroom. A 1.5 room apartment consists in a separate kitchen, a separate bathroom, a hallway and 1 bedroom. Normally apartments are unfurnished so it is best to look for an apartment which has burners and a fridge (cuisine agencée) in order to avoid having to buy them on top of everything else.
List of estate agents based in Lausanne.

Public transportation in Lausanne
Lausanne, and Switzerland in general, has a good public transportation system.
You can go almost anywhere in Switzerland using a combination of the federal train system (CFF in french, and SBB in german) and the postbuses.
Almost everyone in Switzerland has an annual half-fare card called “Abonnement Demi-Tarif”. This pass enables you to buy all your train or boat tickets at half price.
You have access to the ½ price CFF pass offered by EPFL is you are employed for more than a year and not less than 50%.