Coronavirus: Under what circumstances can I enter Switzerland temporarily?

Whether travelling through Switzerland to get to your home country or entering for a short period to pick someone up, entry to Switzerland is only allowed under limited circumstances.

Coronavirus: Under what circumstances can I enter Switzerland temporarily?
A sign at the Italian border to Switzerland. Photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Due to the coronavirus lockdown restrictions, entry to Switzerland is prohibited for anyone except citizens, residents, cross-border permit holders and others who possess one of the limited range of ‘exceptions’. 

In some cases, this can include picking someone up from the airport or travelling through Switzerland in order to return to your home country. 

EXPLAINER: Who can enter Switzerland from May 11th? 

Entering temporarily for transit purposes

Residents or citizens of a foreign country may enter Switzerland in order to travel through and leave the country. 

In order to do so, they will need to show that they are citizens or residents of the destination country and must be travelling in the direction of that country. 

In making such a determination, the Swiss authorities will consider whether the person will be able to enter the destination country.

If “there is reason to believe that such persons are unable to leave Switzerland/enter another country, entry to Switzerland may be refused. 

Picking someone up from inside Switzerland or dropping them off

Although the majority of flights have been grounded from Swiss airports, a few remain. 

Under the latest coronavirus lockdown rules (Ordinance 2), entry is allowed into Switzerland while accompanying persons who a) are permitted to enter into Switzerland (see below) and, b) who require special support. 

‘Special support’ includes children, the elderly, disabled or ill. 

The person entering will need to provide documentary evidence that the support is needed and that the supported person is unable to enter or leave the country independently. 

In Geneva, it is possible to enter the French sector of the Geneva Airport without entering Switzerland, thereby avoiding the need for the requisite permits. 

Crossing the German-Swiss border. Image: AFP

Other temporary entry

Persons travelling through Switzerland to a place of work will need to provide evidence of their employment in order to proceed. 

Similarly, school children will also be able to travel through Switzerland provided they have have confirmation from their school of the journey’s necessity. 

Entering Switzerland for medical treatment – or travelling through Switzerland for medical treatment – is permitted provided that evidence is provided. 

Who is barred from entering Switzerland?

As the ban on non-essential travel is still in place, tourists and other random visitors, either from the EU/EFTA nations or from the third states, will not be allowed into the country for the time being.

The same restrictions extend to cross-border shoppers. While crossing the border into Switzerland for the purpose of shopping is prohibited, people who cross for a legitimate reason are not prohibited from shopping once across Swiss borders. 

People arriving in Switzerland by air will be turned away at the airports, unless they fall into one of the categories eligible to enter the country.

The SEM pointed out that border controls currently in place will continue until further notice.

When might the remaining restrictions be eased?

Authorities indicated that “in principle, from June 8th it will be possible to process applications from all workers from EU and EFTA states”. However, they added that this step would be taken only “if the epidemiological situation permits”.

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Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s tax deadline is just around the corner. Are Covid-related costs tax deductible?

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

March 31st is the deadline for filing taxes in Switzerland relating to the 2021 financial year. 

Over the past two years, the Covid pandemic has seen a change in our spending habits. 

While we may have saved on restaurants and travel, we laid out considerable costs on a range of new expenses, including disinfectant, masks and Covid tests. 

As some of these costs are required by law, can they be deducted from your tax?

In some cases, expenses directly related to the Covid pandemic can be deducted. 

Masks, for instance, can be deducted as medical expenses in some cantons, Swiss tax specialist Markus Stoll told 20 Minutes

This depends on the specific framework for tax deductions related to medical expenses in that canton. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, any medical costs paid out of pocket can be deducted. However, most cantons impose a minimum percentage limit from which these costs can be deducted. 

In many cantons, this will start at five percent of your yearly income in total (i.e. including other out-of-pocket costs like dental or specialist visits), meaning you would need to purchase a significant amount of masks to beat the threshold. 

What about testing and vaccination?

Testing and vaccinations however were largely free as their costs were covered by the Swiss government, which means associated expenses cannot be deducted. 

Those tests which were not covered by the government – for instance for travel abroad or for visiting clubs – cannot be deducted, Stoll says. 

“Tests for travel abroad or to visit clubs are not deductible” Stoll said. 

For a complete overview of taxation in Switzerland, including several specific guides, please check out our tax-specific page here.