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Old 11.02.2019, 15:00
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Re: Entry process- when/how to get official entry permit rather than just a photocopy

Get your passport to consulate/embassy (As beltim check with consulate/embassy if you have to go in person or if you can send in the passport).
Then you will get a Visa D in your passport.
This allows to travel into Switzerland as an immigrant. This has to be done within the validity period of the visa.
Once in Switzerland you must register at the office of your commune where you live. This must be done within 14 days of taking up residency (Do not forget it when you move within Switzerland).
You should get than get a confirmation of residency from your commune. If not ask for one as this helps to open bank accounts etc. (Wohnsitzbestätigung or Anmeldebestätigung).
Finally you will get some when later your residency permit card. This card will act as a visa for future returns and also acts as a visa when you visit other Schengen member countries https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area .
You can stay in Schengen countries for up to 90 days in any given 180 day period as a tourist (except your country has a better bilateral treaty with the visiting country, like the US or Israel has with Germany).
For other countries which are not part of Schengen you will have to check what for your nationality applies (specially if you fly via UK. Less of an issue for US nationals than many others).
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