Beginning your new life in Basel


While we have representative offices in Hong Kong and Mexico City, chances are you'll be joining us at our headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. This could represent a significant move for your partner or family, and many factors need to be considered, including the logistics of relocating and potentially learning a new language.

A historic and cosmopolitan city offering a wide choice of leisure and cultural options, Basel has a large expatriate population drawn from around the world. The prevalence of many different spoken languages can give you broad opportunities for socialising and networking.

The logistics of moving to Basel

We offer support and assistance at all stages of relocation, and cover reasonable removal expenses. Our retained haulage company has extensive experience of assisting our international transferees to begin their new lives.

To make the move to Basel easier for you, the BIS will organise for relocation services to help you find suitable housing. We will also take care of your work/residence permit and the residence permits for your family, and initiate the visa process for you and your family (if you need a visa to enter Switzerland), but you will need to approach the relevant Swiss Embassy to obtain such visa (you should allow a few weeks for this process).

If your spouse wishes to work in Switzerland, we will fund an initial assessment session with the English-speaking Spouse Career Centre, which will evaluate your partner's needs and expectations in the light of local market conditions. Where there are realistic opportunities for career development, the Centre can prepare a CV in the standard Swiss format.

Spoken languages in Switzerland

Switzerland has four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansch. Basel is located in the German-speaking part of the country, so the Swiss German dialect is the de facto local language. However, Basel's proximity to France means that French is also widely understood, as is English in many shops and offices.

As a cosmopolitan city and headquarters of several multinational organisations, Basel is home to native speakers of many different languages. The large and vibrant expatriate community will give you many opportunities to build a social life with people from similar and different backgrounds to yourself.

We assist with tuition costs to cover German classes for all our new employees and their partners.

Your family

Relocating your children at any phase in their education is a significant step.

For their schooling, you may select from international private schools, such as International School Basel, Swiss International School and the Ecole Française, publicly funded Swiss schools, or schools just across the border in France or Germany. Should you choose the international school option, and provided you are considered to be an expatriate under the Bank's regulations, the BIS will fund 75% of the fees, up to a defined maximum.

Pre-school children are also well provided for in Switzerland. Daycare places for kids aged from three months upwards are available at locations close to the BIS. Daycare is offered in all the major European languages and there are even bilingual centres. As places are usually in high demand, the BIS has reserved places at one (German-speaking) institution that offers daycare facilities at several different locations.

Basel for kids

Thanks to its protective, nurturing environment, Basel is an excellent place to grow up and learn about the world.

Basel places great value on being safe, clean and child-friendly, as does Switzerland in general. Child-oriented activities include an excellent zoo and a wide range of sporting facilities, and the presence of expatriates from around the world means that your children will enjoy many chances to make new friends of other nationalities and learn how other families live.

Every neighbourhood has several playgrounds and at least one park, while four robi playgrounds provide exciting outlets for creativity. Active kids will also love Basel's zoo, swimming pools, ice-skating rinks, football pitches and fifty basketball courts. More than a hundred sports associations in the region have dedicated junior sections.

The Puppenhausmuseum, Toy Museum in Riehen, Paper Mill in St Alban, Natural History Museum, Museum of Ancient Art and Museum of Culture are favourites with young people of all ages, and most offer multilingual tours, theme afternoons and workshops.

Living in Basel

Basel itself combines all the advantages of an international, cosmopolitan city with the benefits of a smaller town. Depending on where you choose to live, you may well be able to walk to work, and the modern transport infrastructure provides an easy commute if you prefer to live a little further out.

In addition, Basel's location makes it easy to travel to many other European cities, including popular shopping and tourist destinations in France, Germany and Italy. The Swiss Alps and some of the lakes can also be reached within an hour or two.

Culture, nightlife and eating out in Basel

You will find plenty to occupy your evenings and weekends in Basel.

Alongside a wide choice of restaurants and cafés, Basel is home to a broad choice of bars and clubs - from busy multi-purpose venues offering live music to quiet taverns.

Whether your tastes extend to early music, opera, ballet and drama or electronic music, avant-garde jazz and rock, you will find live performances taking place most nights. Meanwhile, the annual Art Basel festival is the world's premier show for modern and contemporary works, while the whole city comes alive for its famous carnival, Fasnacht.