Privileges & immunities: frequently asked questions (FAQ)

A FAQ (frequently asked questions) has been prepared to answer the questions that are usually asked about the regime of privileges, immunities and facilities applicable to permanent missions, international organisations, as well as to the staff and members of their families.

The foreign representations (1) (namely the diplomatic missions/embassies, permanent missions and consular posts), as well as the international organisations which have concluded with the Swiss Federal Council an agreement on privileges and immunities (headquarters agreement), enjoy  privileges, immunities and facilities in accordance with international law and with international practice. These privileges, immunities and facilities also apply to the staff and members of their families.

In Switzerland, the regime of privileges, immunities and facilities is based on (2):  

  • the Vienna Convention of 18 April 1961 on Diplomatic Relations, applied by analogy to the permanent missions
    (SR 0.191.01 (fr)) (hereinafter "the Vienna Convention"),
  • the Vienna Convention of 24 April 1963 on Consular Relations (SR 0.191.02 (fr)),
  • the agreements on privileges, immunities and facilities concluded with the international organisations (SR 0.192 (fr))
  • the 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, SR 192.12) and implementing Ordinance of 7 December 2007 (Host State Ordinance,
    SR 192.121), and
  • the practice of the Swiss authorities in respect of questions left open by the above-mentioned texts.  

In this document, we have chosen to deal solely with the situation of the permanent missions, international organisations and members of their staff. However, the embassies and members of their staff and, to a certain extent, consular posts and members of their staff are all subject to the same rules.

(1) "Foreign representations" is taken to mean diplomatic missions (embassies), permanent missions and consular posts
(2) These texts are published in the Classified Compilation of Federal Legislation (SR): Classified Compilation

Table of questions