Coronavirus in Switzerland: Air borders remain closed for unregistered couples

Despite land borders between Switzerland and its neighbours being opened for couples to reunite, the same rules do not apply via air travel.

Coronavirus in Switzerland: Air borders remain closed for unregistered couples
An empty terminal at Geneva airport. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

As reported in Swiss media outlet 20 Minutes on Saturday, a Swiss man who had attempted to fly to Düsseldorf from Zurich to visit his girlfriend was turned away when trying to check in. 

Airport authorities told the man, named in Swiss media as AJ, entry into Germany was only possible for married couples and those with registered partnerships, rather than for unregistered couples. 

Although Switzerland has allowed unregistered couples separated by the Swiss border to visit each other since May 16th, this is only when crossing a land borders. 

Speaking with 20 Minutes, AJ said he’d booked a ticket as soon as the announcement about unregistered couples was made. 

“I wanted to visit my girlfriend. We haven’t seen each other since the beginning of March because of the border closures,” he said. 

“When the announcement was made that borders would be relaxed for binational couples, I immediately booked a Eurowings flight to Düsseldorf.”

“German authorities informed me that the easing provisions for binational couples apply to the land borders between Germany and Switzerland, but not to the air borders.”

“It will only be possible to see her again from June 15th at the earliest. 

Tourism despite coronavirus: Swiss can holiday in Germany, France and Austria this summer 

Swiss media however reports that the same rules do not apply in the other direction, i.e. when flying from Germany into Switzerland. 

According to the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), a signed ‘self-declaration’ that the passenger is in an unregistered relationship will be sufficient proof in order to fly. 



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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