As the epidemiological situation continues to improve in most European countries and further in the world, as well as with the fast vaccination rate prevailing in most areas, similar to other countries, Switzerland is now widely open for travellers wishing to visit the country during this winter.
Thus, for all those thinking about spending a dreamy winter in Switzerland, which is best known for its mountains, lakes, and breathtaking views, but not sure about the country’s Coronavirus-related restrictions and requirements, this complete guide includes everything one needs to know before planning a trip.
Who Can Enter Switzerland?
Based on the current epidemiological situation, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has revealed that travellers from 25 EU/Schengen Area countries can enter Switzerland without being subject to any Coronavirus-related restrictions, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Thus, this means that travellers from the following countries are exempt from testing and quarantine requirements as long as they hold the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate:
- Czech Republic
In addition, except for the EU/Schengen Area countries mentioned above, restriction-free entry is also allowed to arrivals from third countries listed below (including the European microstates) that have been added to the EU’s list of epidemiologically safe countries, for which the EU Commission suggested to gradually lift the restrictions:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
- Vatican City State
Previously, FOPH announced that since August 4, fully vaccinated and recovered travellers reaching Switzerland from the United Kingdom, India, and Nepal are no longer required to follow self-isolation and testing rules since the three countries have been removed from the list of countries that are highly affected by a COVID-19 variant.
What Are the Rules for Travellers Permitted to Enter Switzerland?
FOPH has highlighted that different rules apply to citizens of the countries mentioned above, depending on the form of travel they use to reach Switzerland.
Arrivals from any of the countries that are allowed entry to Switzerland that enter the latter’s territory by car, bus, train, or plane are exempt from any pandemic-related restrictions as long as they present a vaccination certificate, a negative COVID-19 test result, or a certificate proving recovery from the virus.
However, those reaching Switzerland through air transport must also fill in an entry form. The requirement applies to children as well.
According to the Swiss authorities, in order for the vaccination certificate to be valid as well as for the holder to be considered fully vaccinated, all travellers should prove that they have received a vaccine that follows these conditions:
- Has been authorised for use by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and has been administered in line with the recommendations of the country in which the vaccine was administered
- Has been authorised for use under the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing
For all those planning to travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a new tool developed by VisaGuide.World helps you to check whether the destination you plan to visit recognises as valid proof of vaccination the vaccine you have been immunised with.
In regards to the recovery certificate, such a document starts being valid from the 11th day after a positive COVID-19 test result is received, and it is accepted as valid for 180 days.
As for those who decide to enter Switzerland by presenting a negative COVID-19 test result, the PCR test result should be obtained within 72 hours before entry, whereas the rapid antigen test result should be carried out within 48 before arrival.
“Are you not fully vaccinated or unable to prove that you have recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months? In the following cases, you will have to present proof of a negative PCR test (not older than 72 hours) or rapid antigen test (not older than 48 hours) if you are entering Switzerland by aeroplane,” the FOPH statement reads.
The testing requirement for travellers who have not been vaccinated or recovered from the COVID-19 disease entered into force on September 20. Back at that time, the Swiss authorities announced that this group of travellers are now subject to double testing.
This means that except for the testing requirement mentioned above, unvaccinated and unrecovered travellers also need to take another test, four to seven days. Such a decision was taken in a bid to halt the further spread of the COVID-19 in the country as the autumn season vacations are approaching.
Children under the age of 16 are exempt from the testing requirement.
What Is Open for Tourists in Switzerland?
With the epidemiological situation significantly improving within the country as well as with the introduction of the EU Digital COVID Certificate, the Swiss authorities have decided to keep in place more relaxed measures.
As such, tourists arriving in Switzerland will find that most of the places are open, including cafes, restaurants, shops, museums, parks, hotels, thermal baths, beaches, and so on.
“The number of people allowed to attend events among friends and family (for example, gatherings and parties) that are not held in publicly accessible establishments and businesses is limited. The numbers include children,” FOPH indicated while establishing that a maximum of 30 persons is allowed in indoor gatherings and a maximum of 50 persons is allowed in outdoor gatherings.
In addition, Coronavirus preventative measures still remain in place, meaning that all persons are required to respect the social distance, keep their masks on when in public indoor spaces as well as in enclosed areas.
In addition, Switzerland has made the COVID-19 pass mandatory for all persons who wish to access restaurants and other indoor spaces. This means that everyone, including tourists, is not permitted entry to any of the places mentioned above if they do not hold a recent negative test, vaccination or recovery certificate.
Access to leisure and cultural activities, including zoos, museums, libraries, swimming pools, water parks, is limited to holders of the pass.
Those who fail to meet the rules set by the country’s authorities risk a fine of €92.
Switzerland’s Vaccination Passport
Switzerland is the first country outside the European Union and European Economic Area to connect to the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate gateway after the EU Commission decided to recognise the Swiss COVID-19 Vaccination Passport as equivalent to those issued in the EU.
As such, this means that all holders of Switzerland’s certificates will now be eligible to travel within the 27 nation bloc while being subject to the same rules that apply to the holders of the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate.
The recognition of the Swiss certificate was welcomed by the Commissioner for Justice Didie Reynders, who said that “this will allow EU citizens and Swiss nationals to travel safely and more freely.”
The EU Digital COVID-19 Passport has been established by the EU Commission in order to facilitate travel within the EU and is characterised by the following features:
- A single-page document
- Provided in digital or paper format
- Free of charge
- Issued in national language and English
- Safe and secure document
- Valid in all EU countries
Swiss COVID-19 Certificate for Third-Country Citizens
Travellers from third countries now need to hold a Swiss COVID-19 Certificate in order to be able to attend most places and take part in different activities while in Switzerland. Consequently, this means that all those who don’t have an EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate need to apply for the document before travelling to Switzerland.
Switzerland’s official travel page, Switzerland Tourism, has announced that all third country travellers are eligible to obtain the Swiss COVID Certificate as long as they prove that they have been fully vaccinated against the virus with one of the vaccines approved by EMA.
Apart from meeting the vaccination requirements, third-country applicants also need to provide detailed information on the name of the vaccine, the number of received doses, the date when the last vaccine was administered, the institution that carried out the vaccination. In addition, they are also required to attach their existing certificate.
Moreover, it has been announced that citizens of third countries are required to pay a fee of €28 to convert their certificate into a Swiss COVID Certificate.
COVID-19 Situation & Vaccination Rate in Switzerland
According to World Health Organization (WHO) figures, as of October 26, Switzerland has identified 858,782 COVID-19 infection cases, with zero new cases reported during the last 24 hours. The same also revealed that the country has registered 10,754 deaths related to Coronavirus disease.
As for the vaccination rates, until now, around 66.4 per cent of Switzerland’s adult population has received at least one dose, whereas 63.6 per cent have been fully vaccinated.
After taking into account such figures, Switzerland’s authorities have decided to no longer offer free Coronavirus tests for those who have not been vaccinated against the disease as a strategy to push more people to get vaccinated. Nonetheless, certain exemptions are made
Travel Insurance: A Must-Have When Travelling to Switzerland
All persons planning to visit Switzerland during the COVID-19 pandemic are highly suggested to purchase extended travel insurance that covers pandemic situations.
Such a purchase ensures that all travellers save most of the amount spent to book their trip in case it gets cancelled due to a surge in Coronavirus infections.
Planning to Visit Other EU Countries This Winter? Here’s What to Expect
If planning to visit other European countries this winter, the following guides explain everything you need to know before booking your trip:
NOTE: This article was originally published on July 27. Since then, the same has been continuously updated with the most recent changes. The last changes to the article were made on October 26, in line with the most recent updates of the Swiss authorities.