Visa – Entry to and residence in Switzerland

Coronavirus: Switzerland adapts its entry requirements for transit air travel

Bern-Wabern, 28.08.2020 - As of 31 August, it will no longer be possible to enter Switzerland from a high-risk country on a transit flight via a non-high-risk country. However, passengers travelling from a non-high-risk country will be able to enter Switzerland even if they have a stopover in a high-risk country, provided they do not leave the transit area of the airport. Until now, it has been possible to circumvent the entry restrictions by travelling via airports in countries not on the high-risk list.

Despite the coronavirus, Swiss and EU/EFTA nationals can currently enter Switzerland from any country in the world. However, depending on the country they are travelling from, they may be required to go into quarantine as ordered by the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH.

There are no longer any entry restrictions for travellers within the Schengen Area and from EU member states. Switzerland gradually relaxed the entry restrictions from mid-May onwards.

Most countries outside the Schengen Area remain on the list of high-risk countries. It is still not possible to enter Switzerland from these countries in the vast majority cases.

Country of departure now counts, not stopover country

Until now, the decisive factor for air travellers from high-risk countries was the country of departure of the flight carrying a person into Switzerland. The country of departure of any previous connecting flights was immaterial. For example, a third-country national was able to fly to Switzerland from a high-risk country such as the USA via Canada – still respecting the quarantine requirements – because Canada is not listed in the COVID-19 Ordinance 3 as a high-risk country. Because the USA is considered a high-risk country, it was not possible to enter Switzerland on a direct flight from Washington or Chicago.

Under the new rules, which apply from 31 August, the country of departure, not the stopover country, determines whether travellers may enter Switzerland. For example, it is no longer possible for third-country nationals to fly to Switzerland from the USA via Toronto. This new regulation aims to prevent people circumventing the entry requirements by travelling in transit via countries not on the high-risk list.

Conversely, air passengers from third countries on the list of exceptions in the COVID-19 Ordinance 3, such as Japan, Australia or New Zealand, may enter Switzerland even if they have to change planes in a country on the high-risk list, such as Turkey, because no direct flights are available. The only condition is that they do not leave the international transit area in the airport in which they stop over – i.e. they do not actually enter the high-risk country.

Various regulations apply for entering Switzerland. A basic distinction is made between citizens of the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries and those of other countries. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) is the responsible authority in Switzerland.

SEM

Since Switzerland’s adherence to the Schengen and Dublin agreements came into force (12 December 2008), Swiss representations abroad are able to issue certain categories of visa, depending on the length of stay and purpose of the journey in Switzerland. Please select one of the following options.

Schengen visa for a stay of up to 90 days

For persons wishing to enter Switzerland for a short stay of up to 90 days within a 180-day period: for example, in a context of tourism, a visit to relatives or friends, short-term language studies, participating in a conference or in sporting/cultural events, etc.

National visa for a stay of more than 90 days

For persons wishing to enter Switzerland for a stay of more than 90 days within a 180-day period. It is subject to the authorisation of the cantonal migration authority competent for the intended place of residence. For example: long-term student, family reunification, marriage in Switzerland, etc.

19.03.2020 - Important information on visas

On 18 March 2020, the Swiss Federal Council decided, that entry at the Schengen external borders is generally prohibited with few exceptions. Switzerland follows the practice of the other Schengen states. Until 15th June 2020, Switzerland will also no longer issue Schengen visas. National visas will also only be issued in exceptional cases, for example to family members of Swiss citizens with a right of presence in Switzerland who require a visa and to specialists from the health sector.

For additional information, please consult the webpage of the State Secretariat for Migration SEM on https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home.html.

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Am 18. März 2020 hat der Bundesrat entschieden, dass Einreisen an den Schengen-Aussengrenzen werden mit wenigen Ausnahmen grundsätzlich verboten. Die Schweiz folgt dabei der Praxis der anderen Schengen-Staaten. Sie wird vorerst bis am 15. Juni 2020 grundsätzlich auch keine Schengenvisa mehr ausstellen. Auch nationale Visa werden nur noch in Ausnahmefällen erteilt, etwa an visumspflichtige Familienangehörige von Schweizer Bürgerinnen und Bürger mit einem Anwesenheitsrecht in der Schweiz sowie an Spezialistinnen und Spezialisten aus dem Gesundheitsbereich.

Weiterführende Informationen finden Sie auf der Website des Staatssekretariats für Migration unter https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/de/home.html.

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Le 18 mars 2020, le Conseil fédéral a décidé que l'entrée aux frontières extérieures Schengen sera aussi en principe interdite, à quelques exceptions près. La Suisse suit ici la pratique des autres États Schengen. Elle cesse de délivrer des visas Schengen jusqu'au 15 juin 2020. De même, les visas nationaux ne seront plus octroyés qu'à titre exceptionnel, par exemple aux membres de la famille d'un ressortissant suisse qui sont soumis à l'obligation de visa et ont le droit de résider en Suisse ou à des spécialistes du domaine de la santé.

Vous trouverez de plus amples informations sur le site web du Secrétariat d'État aux migrations à l'adresse https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/fr/home.html.

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Il 18 marzo 2020 il Consiglio federale ha deciso che le entrate alle frontiere esterne di Schengen sono in linea di massima vietate, con poche eccezioni. La Svizzera segue la prassi degli altri Stati Schengen. Smette di rilasciare visti Schengen fino al 15 giugno 2020. Anche i visti nazionali saranno rilasciati soltanto in casi eccezionali, ad esempio a familiari di cittadini svizzeri che sono soggetti all'obbligo del visto e hanno il diritto di soggiornare in Svizzera, e a specialisti nel settore sanitario.

Ulteriori informazioni sono disponibili sul sito web della Segreteria di Stato per la migrazione all'indirizzo https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/it/home.html.

Airport transit visa

For citizens of certain countries who need a transit visa even if they are staying in the international transit area of the airport and do not enter the Schengen territory.

Labour / Work permits

Admission of foreign workers to an employer in Switzerland is subject to the authorisation of the competent cantonal authority. The entry visa is granted only when the requested authorisations have been delivered.