US arrivals in Switzerland no longer required to quarantine

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
US arrivals in Switzerland no longer required to quarantine
There's no quarantine for US arrivals in Switzerland. Photo by AFP

From October 29th, Swiss authorities relaxed quarantine rules, leaving only a handful of countries and regions on its ‘red’ list - the United States is no longer on that list.


The list was created on July 2nd. Initially, Switzerland based its quarantine requirements on coronavirus infection rates in other countries.

At that time, Switzerland’s infection figures were below those of many other nations, both in Europe and elsewhere. One of the criteria for placing a country on the list was if its infection rate was over 60,000 cases for 100,000 people.

The United States was placed on the list, along with dozens of other countries.

However, as Switzerland’s infection rate now exceeds that of most European and many non-European nations, authorities said it no longer made sense to keep them on the list.

Right now, the only countries whose residents must self-quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in Switzerland are Andorra, Armenia, Belgium, and the Czech Republic, along with the French regions of Hauts-de-France, Île de France, and the overseas territory of French Polynesia.

According the US Embassy in Bern, “as of October 29th, 2020, individuals travelling from the United States are not subject to the mandatory quarantine”.

In other words, if you are a citizen or resident of Switzerland returning from the US, you are no longer required to quarantine. However, travel restrictions for American tourists are still in place.

That’s because Switzerland has two lists of high-risk countries.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why do US citizens in Switzerland give up their American passports 


The first, established by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), is primarily intended for foreigners who wish to come to Switzerland - tourists, people who would like to visit relatives in Switzerland, or foreign nationals who are looking for work.

The United States is on that list.

The second one, created by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), is more geared towards residents of Switzerland who return from abroad. 


But wait, it gets even more complicated.

As mentioned above, residents of the United States can’t enter Switzerland.

However, that doesn’t mean that everyone arriving from the US will be turned away.
Swiss citizens or permanent residents, either living in the US or in Switzerland, can enter any time. And they don’t have to self-quarantine any longer.

Also, US citizens who live in Switzerland or any other 'safe' country that is not on SEM’s or FOPH’s list, will be allowed to come to Switzerland, with no quarantine requirement.
But if they are residents of a state on the quarantine list, they will have to quarantine upon arrival.

In other words, entry into Switzerland and whether or not quarantine is compulsory, is determined by the country of residence, not by one’s passport or nationality.

And there is more.

Say you are an American arriving from the United States.

While tourists and other random visitors are banned from entry, a small group is exempt from this restriction and from the quarantine requirement as well.

According to FOPH they are; essential healthcare workers, business travellers who are coming to Switzerland for an important reason that cannot be postponed, individuals travelling for an urgent medical reason that cannot be delayed, and transit passengers who have spent less than 24 hours in a country or area with an increased risk of infection.

These categories are pretty vague, so it’s best to contact either the Swiss Embassy in the United States or US Embassy in Switzerland to find out whether you qualify under any of these categories and what paperwork you need to present at the border.




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