Swiss COVID travel restrictions: What expats need to know
On Friday, the Federal Council announced new COVID restrictions in Switzerland. Among the other announcements was a new policy in regard to travelling to Switzerland, including new testing requirements for entry. Here is what expats need to know.
Quarantine rules scrapped in favour of COVID testing
Instead of keeping the old system of forcing arrivals from at-risk nations to quarantine, the Swiss government has decided to scrap the list entirely. This is to acknowledge that the new Omicron variant, the main reason for the list, is already in Switzerland.
The new system gets rid of the concept of “at-risk” nations and replaces it with an assumption that all international travellers have the potential to spread infection.
Travel requirements for coming to Switzerland
All travellers over the age of 16 must provide a negative PCR or rapid antigen test upon arrival in Switzerland, along with proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated travellers can only enter Switzerland if they hold a residence permit or citizenship, and may have to submit to isolation and quarantine requirements.
The PCR test must be no more than 72 hours old or 24 hours old for rapid antigen. Alongside the PCR, you must also complete an entry form which can be done online. You can fill in the form up to 48 hours before arrival and it is beneficial to print it out for ease of access. By the time you reach passport control in Switzerland, you should have:
- Passport or ID
- Completed electronic entry form, printed or presented on a phone
- Recognised proof of vaccination
- A negative valid PCR test
Once you are in Switzerland, there is no obligation to quarantine for any period of time. If you are unvaccinated you are required to get a PCR or rapid antigen test between the fourth and seventh day after entry. You will receive a text from the government, asking you to complete the test and send it off to your local cantonal authorities. How you do this varies by canton and the contact details for these authorities, should you have any questions, can be found on the official government website.
If you have tested negative on both occasions, the process of entering Switzerland ends here. If you test positive before arrival, you will not be allowed to fly, and if you test positive on the second test, you will be asked to follow self-isolation or quarantine procedures.
Exemptions to the regular testing requirement
The current testing regime does not apply to those under the age of 16. In addition, some border communities in Germany, France, Austria, Italy and Liechtenstein do not have to be tested every time they cross the border. For more information on what counts as a "border community," please consult the official government website. People transiting through Switzerland by land or air do not have to provide a test result.
To see whether you are able to travel to Switzerland, you can use the government Travelcheck tool.