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No US visas required for Swiss travellers

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12:07 CEST+02:00

Bern has reached an agreement on data exchange with the United States, allowing Switzerland to remain in the Visa Waiver Program.

Switzerland has been a party to the Visa Waiver Program since 1986. This has enabled Swiss citizens to travel for up to 90 days in the US without obtaining a visa.

However, recently, the US has applied more stringent conditions to participation, one being that the relevant country enter into the Preventing and Combating Serious Crime Agreement (PCSC).

The PCSC provides for the exchange of fingerprint and DNA data, while another agreement requires the exchange of information on suspected or known terrorists.

Washington originally requested full access to the Swiss databases. However the Swiss delegation managed to negotiate a more limited exchange of information.

The parties agreed to share information on serious crimes, meaning those that call for sentences of over three years. A list of which crimes are considered to be serious is included in the agreement.

The agreement also takes data protection into account and provides for the ability of one party to request the other to correct, block or delete personal details from their files.

The procedure will work in two steps. One country will first ask the other whether they have certain information stored on file. If there is a match, then in the second step, the information will be transferred to the requesting party.

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