Information for people travelling to Switzerland within the “International Geneva” context

Schengen visas, entry, exit and travel within the Schengen area

The aim of this information sheet is to outline the conditions for issuing Schengen visas to persons invited in a multilateral context (International Geneva) by institutional beneficiaries in Switzerland including holders of legitimation cards issued by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). It also provides details about entry, exit and travel within the Schengen area. Those concerned are mainly: 

  • Individuals invited to meetings hosted by international organisations having concluded a headquarters agreement with Switzerland;

  • Individuals employed by said organisations or other institutional beneficiaries who are eligible for a legitimation card issued by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA);

  • Staff members and official visitors of diplomatic and permanent missions in Switzerland;

  • Individuals officially invited to events when Switzerland plays its role as provider of “good offices”, those on official professional visits, etc.

  • Individuals invited by holders of a legitimation card issued by the FDFA (see 4 below). 

Apart from the last listed category, visa applications for any of the aforementioned individuals fall respectively within the responsibilities of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations Office and to the other international organisations in Geneva (the Swiss Mission). Visa applications for persons invited by FDFA legitimation card-holders are handled by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and the Swiss Embassy or Consulate responsible for the applicant’s place of residence. This is also the case for visa applications from representatives of non-government organisations (NGOs) and their guests. For further information on these matters please consult the Swiss Embassy or Consulate. For ease of reference, the Swiss Mission’s Checklist for inviting participants to meetings in Switzerland at the invitation of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) provides practical information about the visa application procedure. The Swiss Mission also provides a sample invitation letter for NGO delegates.

For more detailed information on visa regulations, please consult the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) website or the Swiss Embassy/Consulate responsible for the applicant’s place of residence.