New COVID entry requirements for Switzerland: What expats need to know
As of Monday, September 20, new entry requirements are in place in Switzerland, in a bid to contain a recent rapid rise in coronavirus cases. Here's what expats and travellers need to know.
New entry rules to counter rise in Delta COVID cases in Switzerland
The Swiss government announced the rules amid what it called a “worrying situation” in Switzerland. Data from cantonal contact tracing offices have linked a high amount of COVID-19 cases to the number of visitors from abroad and Swiss residents returning from holiday.
The Federal Council has made the changes before the start of the official autumn school holidays, to prevent a large rise in cases. Health Minister Alain Berset said that Swiss healthcare was being put under a great amount of strain, saying, "we want to prevent the situation from getting worse again." The government said that lists of “at-risk” and “green” nations no longer worked because of how easily the Delta variant of COVID spread. These new regulations begin on Monday, September 20.
Travelling to Switzerland with vaccination / recovery from COVID-19
If you are over 16 years old and have received two doses of a vaccine that is approved by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or the WHO, you may enter Switzerland without a PCR, rapid, or antigen test.
Approved COVID vaccines in Switzerland
Vaccines that are approved by Swiss authorities as of September 20, 2021 are as follows:
- Pfizer / BioNTech
- Janssen / Johnson & Johnson
- Sinopharm / BIBP
These rules also apply to those who have recovered from COVID-19, as proven by a certificate from the FOPH, COVID Certificate app, or other official certificate provided abroad.
Vaccinated or recovered people who want to enter Switzerland must fill out a “Passenger Locator Form” or PLF, 48 hours before entering the country. This will allow cantonal authorities to perform random spot checks to make sure what you have put on the form is accurate.
What if I have received a different vaccine?
People who have been immunised using an unapproved vaccine must follow the same testing regime as unvaccinated people.
Swiss entry requirements for unvaccinated travellers
If you are over 16 and have not been vaccinated or haven't had COVID, you must fill in a Passenger Locator Form and have completed a valid, negative rapid, antigen or PCR test to be presented upon arrival or before boarding the plane.
After you arrive, you will have to book a second rapid, antigen or PCR test between the fourth and seventh day after you enter the country. Border control authorities may carry out random spot checks to make sure this has been carried out. As part of the Passenger Locator Form, you will also have to submit the results of your second test to the cantonal authorities.
What is a valid COVID-19 test for entry to Switzerland?
The COVID-19 test that you complete before entry can be any PCR, antigen or rapid test. These can be personal tests or those done by a medical professional.
For the second test between the fourth and seventh day, you cannot use a “self-test” and the test must be done by a certified provider. A list of test providers for all 26 cantons can be found on the official government website. Fines of up to 200 Swiss francs may be issued if the full process is not followed.
Who pays for COVID tests for the unvaccinated?
As of October 1, any person who wants a COVID-19 test in Switzerland must pay for it. The only exceptions are people who require regular COVID testing at work or people who can prove that they cannot be vaccinated for a medical reason.
Prices do vary, but an approximate amount for a PCR test is around 100 to 200 Swiss francs per person. This is alongside the cost of a test before you arrive in Switzerland.
What are the exceptions to the new COVID entry requirements for Switzerland?
The exceptions to the new entry requirements are as follows:
- People under the age of 16 do not have to follow any testing regime when entering the country.
- Cross-border commuters and those transiting through Switzerland are exempt from filling out the entry form.
- People living in border areas around Switzerland are exempt from regular testing and the entry form.
Find out more about COVID-19 entry requirements in Switzerland
For more information about entering and leaving Switzerland, check out the website of the Federal Office of Public Health.