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HEALTH

Switzerland cautions against international holidays ‘until 2021’ due to coronavirus

Swiss authorities have warned against travelling abroad until 2021 due to the uncertainty created by the coronavirus.

Switzerland cautions against international holidays ‘until 2021’ due to coronavirus
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Editor's note: On Wednesday, April 29th, Erik Jakob clarified his statements, saying it was purely a personal rather than an official recommendation. 

Erik Jakob, head of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, warned on Monday that residents of Switzerland shouldn’t plan on travelling internationally before 2021. 

During a press conference flanked by Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) spokesman Daniel Koch, Jakob highlighted the uncertainty surrounding international travel. 

“On a personal recommendation, I would postpone trips abroad until next year”, Jakob said. 

Jakob said that even if air travel started up again, it would remain uncertain for a considerable period of time. 

Jakob also cautioned against driving across land borders, saying that while it may not be out of the question in 2020, it could not be guaranteed. 

The statement came after Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told the NZZ on Sunday that he couldn't see borders being opened to traffic coming from either direction until well after the summer. 

Domestic travel?

For anyone in Switzerland experiencing wanderlust, the Swiss authorities did however indicate they would be looking to boost domestic tourism in 2020. 

In order to minimise the risk from the coronavirus, Switzerland Tourism is planning a coordinated reopening which aims to direct visitors to different locations all across the country to ensure that “hotspots” are not overloaded. 

Tourism sector won’t return to normal until 2022

During the press conference, Jakob highlighted that Swiss tourism operators were likely to experience a drop in demand of up to 80 percent in 2020. 

Jakob also said that he expected the impacts on the industry to be long lasting, with things unlikely to return to normal until 2022. 

 

 

Member comments

  1. Does anyone have updates on travel ban from European countries to Switzerland? I am from Sweden and my partner leaves in Switzerland, I have not been allowed in the country since the 25th of March. Is there any information on that matter and when they will open Shengen again? Thank you!

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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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