Coronavirus: Under what circumstances can I enter Switzerland temporarily?

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

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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