8 – Leaving ETH

Every new phase in life will come to an end, and if you have made it to the end of your doctoral studies adventure, we at AVETH wish you all the best in your future endeavors. There are a few things to keep in mind when leaving ETH (or even Switzerland). You will be asked to return your office keys and transfer all your data, including all lab notebooks. For the period after the end of your contract, you should make arrangements for your accident insurance. In general, for questions concerning insurance, data transfer or any other necessary arrangements, you can consult your group administrator or HR department manager.

8.1. Insurance Matters
Non-professional Accident Insurance (Abredeversicherung)

With employment in Switzerland, your contributions to professional accident insurance (berufsunfallversicherung) and to non-professional accident insurance (Nichtberufsunfallversicherung, NBUV) are paid automatically. Without employment, they are not.
Thus, in case you do not directly have new employment but plan to stay in Switzerland, you might want to keep the non-professional accident insurance. You can arrange for non-professional accident insurance through the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (Schweizerische Unfallversicherungsanstalt, SUVA) with the “Abredeversicherung”. With the “Abredeversicherung”, you can prolong the accident insurance you had at ETH with the same benefits. It costs 45 CHF/month and it can be extended for a maximum of 6 months. You are still insured by ETH Zurich for the first 30 days after your last paid working day, so you can start the “Abredeversicherung” after these 30 days, saving the fee for this period. After the maximum duration of six months, you will have to include your non-professional accident insurance with your private health insurance (if you have not started a new job already).
You can get the forms for the non-professional accident insurance and further information from the HR department manager.

Pension Fund

If you are no longer employed at ETH, your contributions to the Federal Pension Fund PUBLICA will end. Without employment at a public institution in Switzerland, you cannot contribute towards the federal pension fund anymore. As soon as you have a new job, you will need to arrange the transfer of your money to the pension fund of your new employer. In case you do not start a new position within a certain timeframe or if you leave Switzerland, you have to arrange the transfer of your money to a vested benefits account (Freizügigkeitskonto). Early pay out of your pension fund money is usually only possible in combination with property purchase or on becoming self-employed. You can find plenty information on that issue on the additional pdf.


Old-age and survivors’ insurance (AHV) is the most important pillar of social security in Switzerland. It replaces part of the income that has been reduced or lost due to old age or death. As there is only one AHV, things are a little simpler compared to the pension fund. Your contribution towards the AHV is directly deducted from your salary, independent of your new employer. The same applies if you receive unemployment benefits after leaving ETH. Early pay out of the money you have paid towards the AHV is only possible if your country of origin has no agreement on social security with Switzerland (which excludes for example EU and US citizens).

Unemployment Insurance (Arbeitslosenversicherung, ALV)

If you do not have a new job directly after your engagement with ETH, you are entitled to apply for unemployment benefits. To register, you will need to go to the Regional Employment Center (RAV) of the place where you are registered as resident.
Unemployment benefits can be applied for by anyone who has paid into the ALV insurance fund.
Only if you are paid by some special (privat) research funds and are tax exempt you have no claim. Keep in mind; when you contact RAV they will ask you to prove in writing that you have applied for at least 12 jobs each month for 3 months which is a total of at least 36 job applications. Therefore, you should contact the RAV in your region at least 3 months before your contract runs out and ask for guidance.
The basis for your unemployment benefits is the gross salary (Bruttolohn) of the previous 12 working months (periods when you did not earn any money, such as unpaid vacations, are not considered).
You do not have right to unemployment insurance if you are still working on your doctoral studies with an active full professor at ETHZ. If your funds run out after the initial few years and you are expected to continue your doctoral studies while finding your own funding, contact AVETH counselling (counselling@aveth.ch) and they will gladly advise you with your issue.

8.2. Leaving Switzerland

Notify your Residents’ Registration Office or District Office of your departure from Switzerland personally and in good time. You can do this up to 30 days in advance. Remember to ask for confirmation of your deregistration, as you will need this for various administrative matters in Switzerland and your future country of residence.


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