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HEALTH

UPDATED: Who can enter Switzerland right now?

Although border controls have been loosened, the pre-corona world has not yet returned.

UPDATED: Who can enter Switzerland right now?
A barrier is removed on the Swiss-French border. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Note: Switzerland updated its entry rules from October 29th. Please click here to find out more. 

Throughout the pandemic, Switzerland slammed shut its borders – even those which had not been closed for more than half a century. 

Only citizens, residents and cross-border workers were allowed to cross into Switzerland during the pandemic. 

READ: Will Switzerland introduce coronavirus testing at airports to cut quarantine? 

So who is allowed to enter Switzerland and under what circumstances? That all depends on where you are arriving from.

Since June 15th, travel between most European countries has been re-opened, but some restrictions are still in place for travellers from outside Europe from entering Switzerland. 

There are also quarantine requirements for arrivals from so-called ‘high-risk’ countries. 

From August 3rd, unmarried couples have been again allowed to enter Switzerland – provided they can prove the relationship to authorities. 

Arrivals from European countries

Beginning in June, Switzerland – in tandem with the European Union – has begun to slowly wind back border controls. 

As The Local Switzerland reported in June, travel to most other European countries was again allowed from June 15th onwards. 

In the vast majority of cases this has been done pursuant to a reciprocal arrangement – meaning that residents of these countries are also allowed to enter Switzerland. 

The main issue here is whether these countries are subject to a quarantine. 

Currently, there is a list of 66 ‘high risk’ countries or regions. Arrivals from these countries must quarantine for ten days in Switzerland on arrival. 

Countries which share a border with Switzerland will have specific regions placed on the list, rather than the entire country. This is why some regions of France, Italy, Austria and Germany have been placed on the list instead of the entire country. 

For more information on the quarantine requirement, read our explainer

A barrier is removed on the Swiss-French border. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Travel to and from ‘third countries’

Those from outside Europe – known as ‘third countries’ – are restricted from entering. 

This means that anyone without European citizen/resident status will not be permitted to enter, with some limited exceptions. 

READ: What you should know before you travel abroad from Switzerland 

As reported by The Local, the EU reopened its borders to travellers from certain countries on July 1st: Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

As has been much publicised, this does not include the US. 

While Switzerland is not an EU member, it has up until this point largely mirrored the decisions of the EU when it comes to border openings.

More information is available here.

Are there any exceptions?

The family members of EU/EFTA citizens or residents will be allowed to enter, regardless of their nationality status. 

There are some exceptions for work travellers, although this travel must be essential – i.e. it needs to take place in person – and special approval must be granted.

Anyone needing this approval must contact Swiss authorities at [email protected] 

As of August 3rd, members unmarried couples can enter if one lives in Switzerland and the other abroad. 

In order to do so, the partner not residing in Switzerland must receive an invitation from the Swiss resident partner, while the legitimacy of the relationship will also need to be proven. 

More information is available here.

Do I have to quarantine? 

Quarantine requirements will apply from certain high-risk areas from July 6th onwards. The list of countries is regularly updated by Swiss health authorities. 

As at October 12th, the list includes dozens of countries or parts of countries: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Austria (several regions), the Bahamas, Bahrain, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eswatini, Faroe Islands, France (several regions), Georgia, Germany (Hamburg and Berlin), Gibraltar, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy (Campania, Liguria, Sardinia and Venice), Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Maldives, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Nepal, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Oman, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Sint Maarten, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain (not Canary Islands), Tunisia, Turks and Caicos Islands, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States.

On August 20th, Spain’s Balearic Islands, Belgium, Albania, Andorra, Aruba, Belize, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Guam, Monaco and Namibia were added to the list.

On the same day, Serbia, Singapore, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe and Saudi Arabia were removed.

From September 7th, people arriving in Switzerland from Croatia, Lebanon, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates will have to go into mandatory 10-day quarantine.

Belgium and Mexico were removed from the list on September 7th. 

On September 14th, people from nine regions in France and from the Austrian capital of Vienna are also required to quarantine. 

On September 28th, the list was expanded again – with 15 new countries added as well as several more regions of France, Austria and Italy. Two countries – Kosovo and San Marino – were removed. 

From October 12th, Hamburg and Berlin in Germany, Burgenland and Salzburg in Austria and Campania, Sardinia and Venice in Italy were added. 

In addition, the countries of Georgia, Iran, Jordan, Canada, Russia, Slovakia and Tunisia have been added to the list. Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Namibia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago were removed from October 12th.

Affected people will be informed on planes, coaches and at the borders, and must register with the local authorities once in Switzerland.

Editor’s note: Please keep in mind that this article, as with all of our guides, are to provide assistance only. They are not intended to take the place of official legal advice. 

 

Member comments

  1. It is an interesting exception, not highlighted by this article, that the restoration of entry to residents of other European countries on 15 June did not include non-citizen residents, unless they are in the Schengen area. Still to this day, non-citizen residents of the UK, which has a lower infection rate than Switzerland, are not allowed to enter. I wonder whether this is deliberate or just an administrative error. As such a resident myself I can travel almost anywhere in Europe but not Switzerland because it has not followed the EU’s lead in this regard.

  2. Is there any chance that American tourists will be allowed to enter Switzerland before September 30, without being subject to the 10-day quarantine?

  3. When returning from the US, if I stop over in a non-restricted country, how long must I stay there to be free of quarantine here in Suisse?

  4. with the new guidelines for quarantine starting on October 12, will there also be new restrictions to entering Switzerland? I am wondering specifically about Canada, which is now on the quarantine list. Thanks.

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For members

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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