You must have a passport or valid identity card to study in Switzerland. You do not need to complete any formalities before you arrive in Switzerland but you must report your arrival to the Contrôle des habitants et Bureau des étrangers in the administrative district where you are living, in person, within 14 days. You can submit an application for a residence permit at the same time, by bringing at least two passport-size photos and your passport or identity card with you.
There are fees for these procedures, of between CHF 15 and CHF 30, depending on the district, for the registration fee and CHF 70 for the residence permit fee.
The Contrôle des habitants et Bureau des étrangers will then deliver your application to the Service de la Population du Canton de Vaud (SPOP). Once your application's admitted, the SPOP will send you a letter inviting you to make an appointment with the Centre de biométrie et des documents d'identité in order them to collect your biometric data (An appointment is compulsory). The SPOP letter will explain how to make this appointment.
You must have a valid passport and, according to your nationality, a visa issued by a Swiss consular representation abroad in order to enter Switzerland. Please consult the Swiss Confederation internet site to find out whether you need a visa or not.
If so, you will therefore need to submit an application for entry into Switzerland (visa application) to the relevant representation abroad at least two to three months before you plan to enter Switzerland.
Once you have your visa and have arrived in Switzerland, you must report your arrival to the Contrôle des habitants et Bureau des étrangers in the administrative district where you are living, in person, within 14 days. You must submit an application for a residence permit, bringing your passport and a passport-size photo with you.
Download the study permit form (59 KB)
There are fees for these procedures, of between CHF 15 and CHF 30, depending on the district, for the registration fee and around CHF 120 for the residence permit fee. Subsequently, you will be invited to record your biometric data at the biometrics centre. The registration fee payable at the centre is CHF 20.
The University of Lausanne does not currently have a hall of residence on campus. However, it works closely with the Fondation Maisons pour Etudiants Lausanne (FMEL), which welcomes over 2,500 students at 14 locations, mainly within the Lausanne urban area.
As far as possible, we try to secure accommodation for our exchange students in an FMEL hall of residence. However, since FMEL has a limited number of places available, unfortunately we cannot guarantee accommodation for all our exchange students.
Therefore, once you have been nominated by your home university and been admitted to UNIL, we will let you know by the beginning of June at the latest, if you are arriving for the autumn semester, or the beginning of December, if you are arriving for the spring semester, whether we have been able to secure accommodation for you in an FMEL hall of residence. If so, FMEL will contact you at the appropriate time to offer you accommodation. You will be asked to pay a rent guarantee (see the “Deposit or rent guarantee” section for more information) and your rent will be payable by you. Please note that the deadline for paying your rent guarantee to FMEL is very short (two days from accepting the accommodation you are offered). It is therefore essential to check your e-mails frequently during this period.
If, unfortunately, we have not been able to secure accommodation through FMEL for you, the University of Lausanne and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) run a joint accommodation database reserved exclusively for their students. Advertisements are published by individuals who want to let their accommodation or are looking for another tenant to share with. You can access the database using your UNIL credentials (user name and password).
If you don’t yet have your UNIL credentials to log in to the database, our department can send you regular updates of the rooms advertised on the list, as a PDF file. If an advertisement interests you, just contact the person directly.
However, people generally want to meet the student who will be living with them and it is strongly recommended that you visit the accommodation concerned before you decided to rent it. As far as possible, it is advisable to allow a few days in the city to carry out your research and visit potential accommodation.
Please note that the accommodation listed on our platform has not been inspected by the accommodation services at either UNIL or EPFL. They have, however, checked the advertisements, particularly with regard to price. We also try to identify any fake advertisements, which are designed to get you to hand over money for accommodation that does not actually exist. Despite our best efforts we cannot, unfortunately, ignore the possibility that a fake advertisement may slip through, given how cleverly they are written. Here are some tips to help you avoid any problems:
A rent guarantee is a sum of money, generally equivalent to three times your monthly rent, which must be deposited and blocked in a bank account at the request of a landlord (property company). The money can only be released and returned when you leave your accommodation, after the final inventory and statement of state of repair (agreed by the tenant and landlord at the end of the tenancy) has been signed, provided that you have not caused any damage to the accommodation and are not in arrears with your rent. Otherwise, the landlord can deduct the relevant amount from the sum deposited in the bank account, to pay for the repairs or cover unpaid rent. Please note that a rent guarantee can represent a significant amount of money (for FMEL, allow between CHF 1,200 and CHF 1,600, depending on the type of accommodation).
If you do not have sufficient funds to deposit this amount of money in a bank account, there are companies that can provide a guarantee on your behalf (Swisscaution, Firstcaution, etc.). To use this service, you will have to pay an annual contribution to the company providing the guarantee. Most landlords are willing to use companies of this kind. However, FMEL does not accept this type of guarantee.
Lausanne is a city of 140,000 people, at the heart of an urban area of almost 300,000 people, and the capital of Vaud canton. The city is around 60 km from Geneva airport and is quick and easy to get to by train or motorway.
The city’s transport authority, Transports Lausannois (TL) runs a wide and efficient range of services for easy travel throughout the city and the surrounding area, particularly via the two metro lines (M1 and M2).
Make the most of the extensive range of cultural, sporting and tourist activities available in the Lausanne region during your time in the city. See the Lausanne Tourisme website to find out more.
Lausanne is also well known for its night life, which attracts young people from French-speaking Switzerland. Discover Lausanne's Nightlife.