Privileges and immunities

The individual beneficiaries who enjoy privileges, immunities and facilities in Switzerland are managed by two FDFA services, depending on the official function of the persons concerned is in the bilateral or multilateral domain. The aforementioned services arethe Protocol in Bern and the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and to the other international organisations in Geneva. 

Foreign representations, i.e. embassies, consular posts and permanent missions, and the international organisations with which the Federal Council has concluded an agreement on privileges and immunities, as well as their staff members and the persons entitled to accompany the latter, enjoy privileges, immunities and facilities in accordance with international law and international customs.

Bilateral or multilateral domain

The competent Swiss authorities and the legal texts applicable are determined according to whether the matter in question relates to the bilateral or the multilateral domain. The bilateral domain refers to relations between Switzerland and foreign states, notably through their embassies and consulates. 

The multilateral domain refers in particular to relations among states within international organisations, to the permanent missions to international organisations of these states, and to international conferences. 

The FDFA Protocol is the point of reference for the bilateral domain while for the multilateral domain it is the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and to the other international organisations in Geneva. Each of these two services provides a manual on the regime of privileges, immunities and facilities applicable to the beneficiaries concerned. 

Legal reference texts

The regime of privileges, immunities and facilities in Switzerland is based in particular on:

  • Federal Act of 22 June 2007 on the Privileges, Immunities and Facilities and the Financial Subsidies granted by Switzerland as a Host State (Host State Act, HSA) and its implementation ordinance of 7 December 2007 (Host State Ordinance, HSO) 
  • the agreements on privileges, immunities and facilities concluded with the various international organisations
  • the Vienna Convention of 18 April 1961 on Diplomatic Relations applicable by analogy to permanent missions
  • the Vienna Convention of 24 April 1963 on Consular Relations
  • the customary practices of Swiss authorities with regard to questions not covered by the above mentioned texts