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PhD students from abroad

Health insurance is compulsory during your stay in Switzerland. You have 3 months from the date of your official arrival in Switzerland (as indicated on your residence permit) to take out a policy or request an exemption.

If you live in the Canton of Vaud, you must take out a LAMal insurance, and the following information does not apply to you. Go to the following page :

If you live in France, go to the following page:

There are several scenarios for doctoral students from abroad who live in Geneva.

The following 3 cases generally qualify for exemption:

  1. Health insurance is organised by the entity awarding the grant (generally non-European excellence Swiss Confederation grant holders): exemption possible.
  2. You are covered for medical care during your stay by an insurance company/social security organisation in your home country and the insurance coverage meets the Swiss requirements and your gross annual income is less than CHF 57,471: exemption possible.
  3. Your gross annual income is less than CHF 57,471 and you take out a foreign student health insurance plan (see below): exemption possible.

In all cases, you must apply to the SAM (Service de l’assurance maladie or Health Insurance Service) for an exemption.

This must be done within 3 months of your arrival, if possible, as soon as you have received your residence permit or a letter from the SAM.

If you haven’t received anything within these 3 months, make the request and send the file by registered mail.

Please note that if your gross annual income is equal to or greater than CHF 57,471 (for a single person), it is not possible to obtain an exemption. Go to the following page:

How to apply for an exemption

Ask the insurer / social security organisation to complete, sign and stamp the equivalence form (you complete the top section).

Send the form to the Service de l’assurance maladie – SAM / Route de Frontenex 62 / 1207 Genève with:

  • Copy of the SAM cover letter (if you have received it),
  • Copy of your student card
  • Copy of your European Health Insurance Card (if you have one) or of your foreign student health insurance plan policy or card
  • Copy of a document concerning your scholarship or employment contract, indicating your income.

Sometimes, insurance companies for foreign students will take care of sending the equivalence form to the SAM. Check with them and provide them with the above documents.

The exemption is generally valid for one year and must be renewed each year.

If you are coming with your family, it is possible to extend the exemption to your family if your family does not work in Switzerland and if you keep the insurance/social security of your previous country of residence. However please note that foreign student insurance companies refuse to insure family members.


If you receive a letter from the Service de l’assurance maladie (SAM): please take action.
If you do not understand the letter, contact the Welcome Center.
If the exemption is refused, contact the Welcome Center.

Insurance companies for foreign students accepted by SAM:


Swisscare Switzerland AG

Swica : “Student Care”

Groupe Mutuel : Academic Care

Golden Care : “Study Protect”

Advisor Swiss insurance

Foreign student insurance companies will usually ask you to complete a health questionnaire and may refuse to insure you if you have a serious medical history.

It is always possible to take out a Swiss health insurance policy (LAMal) and apply for a subsidy.