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HEALTH

Switzerland extends border restrictions to all Schengen states

Switzerland extended border restrictions from midnight on March 25th to all Schengen countries, with only citizens, residents and those in possession of a cross-border working permit to be granted entry.

Switzerland extends border restrictions to all Schengen states
Photo: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

While gradual border closures had been put in place for the better part of the last month, the existing restrictions officially only applied to certain neighbouring Schengen countries (Italy, Austria, Germany and France) as well as all non-Schengen countries. There were also restrictions on flights from Spain.

The new restrictions now extend to nationals of all Schengen and non-Schengen countries other than Liechtenstein. 

All flights as well as land border crossings will apply the new restrictions as of midnight on March 25th. 

“Since midnight, these stricter entry requirements have also applied to flights from all remaining Schengen states with the exception of the Principality of Liechtenstein. The relevant authorities in the EU have been notified of the changes,” the government said in a statement.

The government added: “Citizens of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, persons with a Swiss residence permit and persons who have to travel to Switzerland for work-related reasons or because of an emergency will continue to be allowed to enter the country. Travellers may continue to transit through Switzerland and movements of goods are still permitted.

These measures aim to protect the Swiss population even more effectively against infection with the coronavirus and to maintain capacities in the Swiss healthcare sector.”

This means that all tourists, visitors, workers without permits and service recipients will be refused entry, while anyone seeking to enter Switzerland for medical treatment or to search for work will also be banned from entering. 

There are some limited exceptions to the ban, including medical professionals or diplomatic visitors.

There are also exceptions for people who “have to travel to Switzerland for matters of absolute necessity”, as per the Federal Department of Justice and Police Guidance

 

 

 

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HEALTH

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I’m abroad?

Given how expensive health insurance premiums are in Switzerland, you may be tempted to suspend your policy while you are abroad. Is this possible?

Reader question: Can I put my Swiss health insurance on hold if I'm abroad?

Unlike the obligatory car insurance, which you can suspend temporarily by depositing your registration plates at the local motor vehicles office, rules pertaining to health insurance are much stricter.

As the Federal Office of Public Health explains it, “If you leave the country for a certain period to travel or study but do not take up residence abroad, you are still required to have [health] insurance in Switzerland”.

In other words, as long as you are a registered resident of Switzerland, regardless of your nationality or passport, you must keep your compulsory Swiss health insurance and pay your premiums. While you do this, you also remain covered against most medical emergencies while you travel.

However, rules are less stringent for supplemental health plans which can, in some cases, be put on hold, depending on the insurance provider, according to Switzerland’s Moneyland consumer website.

The only exception allowed for suspending the health insurance coverage is during a military or civil protection service which lasts more than 60 consecutive days.

“During these periods, the risks of illness and accident are covered by military insurance. Your health insurance provider will refund your premiums”, according to FOPH.

Under what circumstances can you cancel your Swiss health insurance?

Swiss law says you can cancel your insurance if you are moving abroad, either permanently for for a period exceeding three months.

If you do so, only claims for treatments given while you still lived in Switzerland will be paid by your insurance; any medical bills for treatment incurred after you officially leave will be denied.

These are the procedures for cancelling your compulsory health insurance if you leave the country under conditions mentioned above

To announce your departure abroad, you must send your insurance carrier a letter including your name, customer number or AVS/AHV number.

You must also include a certificate from your place of residence in Switzerland confirming that you have de-registered from your current address, as well as the date of your departure.

Note, however, that if your new destination is another Swiss community / canton, rather than a foreign country, your insurance can only be cancelled from the following calendar year and only if you present proof of having taken up a new policy with another company.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to register your address in Switzerland

You can find out more information about this process here

If you suspend your health insurance for less than six years, you can reactivate it at a later date with the same company when you return to Switzerland.

READ MORE : What you should know about your Swiss health insurance before you go abroad
 

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