Entering Switzerland for a short-stay

Updated 2018-08-17 09:30

Being surrounded by France, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein definitely makes travelling to Switzerland a breeze. There are trains straight from Paris, Milano, and Hamburg, a vast selection of airlines that fly both locally and internationally and, of course, Europe's extensive motorway network. Switzerland may not be a member of the EU, but it is a member of both the Schengen area and the European Economic Area, which means that in many cases all you need is a valid passport for short stays. Keep reading to find out what applies in your particular case.

Do you need a visa to travel to Switzerland?

If you travel to Switzerland for a stay of less than three months, a valid identity card (accepted in Switzerland) or a valid passport are required for most foreign nationals.

If you're a citizen from Europe's Schengen area, the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), you do not need a visa to enter and stay in Switzerland for 90 days. Furthermore, there are short-stay visa waivers (exemption agreements) in place for citizens of nearly 40 countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and Singapore.

Good to know:

If you're visiting from outside the Schengen area, your passport must be less than ten years old and valid for at least three more months after you leave Switzerland.

If you're a passport-holder from a country Switzerland doesn't have an agreement with, you will have to apply for a visa at the embassy or consulate of Switzerland in your home country. Formalities may differ depending on your nationality, and it is highly advisable to check with the Swiss diplomatic representation in your area country or directly with the ODM beforehand. For more information, please refer to the Swiss Federal Foreign Affairs Department.

In some cases for third-country passport holders, Swiss authorities may ask that you have a sponsor to cover costs of up to CHF 30,000 ($30,121) for eventual medical, accidents and repatriation fees. The guarantor's statement, if required, must be submitted to the cantonal authorities of the domicile of the guarantor. Check with the Swiss embassy or consulate in your home country to find out more and get the necessary forms.

For longer stays, you must apply for a visa or a permit regardless of your nationality. (A list of entry procedures for each nationality is available on the Federal Office for Migration's website.) Upon leaving the country, if you have stayed for more than 90 days, you are required to deregister with the local authorities and surrender your residence permit.

Planning your trip to Switzerland

Switzerland is very easy to reach. The country's national airline is Swiss International Airlines (SWISS), which flies to over 100 destinations in 44 different countries. The country also has eight airports that handle both international and domestic flights ' although one of them is technically located in France. Apart from the airports located in major cities, there are also airports near ski resorts and tourist destinations, so that you can explore Switzerland more comfortably.

Useful links:

Federal Office for Migration
Entry Requirements
Swiss Federal Foreign Affairs Department
Swiss Info: Entry/Exit

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