Living in Bern

The city of Bern

Bern, the capital (officially "federal city") of the Swiss Confederation, is home to the Swiss Government, the Swiss National Bank, the Swiss Railways, the Swiss Post, the University of Bern and a population of about 144,000. The official language of Bern is German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect, Bernese German. In 1983, the historic old town (in German: Altstadt) in the centre of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The city is a one-hour train ride away from Basel (home of many pharmaceutical multinationals), Zurich (one of the most important financial centres worldwide) and about two hours from Geneva, home of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and many other international organisations.

For more on what Bern has to offer check out the official website of the city of Bern.

Upcoming Orientation & Welcome Events by the University of Bern: click here.


The World Trade Institute does not provide its own accommodation. The majority of students choose to book a room with the Bernese Student Lodging Association or find a room in a shared apartment.

We encourage you to start looking for accommodation well in advance. The number of rooms available at the student residences and the number of rooms/apartments for rent in the Bern region is very limited.

Please note that we do not recommend the student housing at Bolligen.

Health Insurance

Swiss law mandates that you have health insurance during your stay in Switzerland. It is compulsory.

We strongly recommend the health insurance provide Swisscare, specialised for students.

Alternatively, you can find and compare different health insurances here at Comparis.

Visas, residence permit and financial matters

If you are a non-EU applicant to the World Trade Insitute, you should ensure that you can provide evidence of adequate funding to Swiss visa/immigration authorities.

  • For your stay in Switzerland, you need at least CHF 1,500 a month for accommodation and food.
  • To apply for a residence permit, you require financial proof confirming that you will be able to pay the minimum living expenses of CHF 1,500 a month (a bank statement from your bank account or a written guarantee from a person supporting you with CHF 1,500 a month with bank statement and a copy of the person's passport).

The WTI will send confirmation of your admission to study to the Bernese Migration Office. Once you arrive in Switzerland, you are required to register with them within seven days. More details will be given on your arrival.

You will obtain a L permit (more information on the L permit here). According to this status, during your studies at the WTI, and are not allowed to work part-time nor full-time. Upon completion of your studies, you are allowed to work if your employer is able to sponsor your working visa. Indeed, we encourage you to apply early for internships and internship scholarships

Important information on the Unibe website: Conditions relevant to entering and residing in Switzerland

Please download and read carefully the Visa Application document on the right, before applying for your visa.

Getting Here and Getting Around

To get to Bern, please use the official information "Travel Planning" of Bern Tourism website.

SBB/CFF/FFS is the national train company of Switzerland: 

  • We recommend you download the SBB App before arriving to Switzerland. It connects ALL means of transport in the entire country and beyond, it allows to plan your travels and purchase tickets in one single app.
  • Once in Switzerland, we recommend that you purchase the Half Fare Travel card. It allows you to travel for half price on all SBB routes, as well as on boats, postbuses and trams. 

Extra-curricular activities

Students at the WTI can look forward to a range of extra-curricular activities during their time in Bern.

Students have the opportunity to attend the WTO Public Forum and the UNCTAD World Investment Forum in Geneva: two excellent platforms for networking and getting significant insights into the world of trade law and investment.

In addition, Bern has some noteworthy public events and traditions scattered throughout the year which will undoubtedly add to a positive experience during your time here. More information can be found on