SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

HEALTH

UPDATED: Can I get the coronavirus vaccine in a different Swiss canton to where I live?

As with almost everything in Switzerland, the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine differs from canton to canton. Do I have to get vaccinated in my home canton?

UPDATED: Can I get the coronavirus vaccine in a different Swiss canton to where I live?
AFP

From languages to politics – and of course how you feel about a Rösti – things differ significantly in Switzerland from canton to canton. 

Many Swiss cross the border daily, whether to work, meet their partner, to go shopping – or even to go to the doctor.

Sometimes, people cross the border without even realising it, such is the nature of borders in Switzerland. 

The question however of whether or not you can get vaccinated in a different canton is a complicated one – and will depend on who you ask. 

Can I get vaccinated in a different Swiss canton to the one where I live? 

According to official government advice, you do not have to be vaccinated in your canton of residence, or even in your canton of work. 

READ MORE: How can I get vaccinated for Covid-19 in Switzerland? 

In fact, you can get the shot anywhere in Switzerland – and it will be free.

In its official advice, the government wrote that “you are free to choose where you are vaccinated”. 

“The tariff agreement applies throughout Switzerland. The vaccination is therefore independent of the place of residence or the place of an ongoing treatment.”

In this quote, the ‘tariff agreement’ refers to the federal government’s commitment to cover the costs of the vaccine, meaning that they will cover the costs for Swiss to get vaccinated regardless of which canton they get vaccinated in. 

Click here for information on how to register in each canton

 
Does this mean I can get the vaccine anywhere? 
 
Unfortunately however, it does not end there. 
 
While the federal government will cover the costs of Swiss residents no matter where they get vaccinated, they have encouraged people to get vaccinated in their cantons of residence, saying vaccine supplies have been allocated on the basis of the number of residents and the percentage of those in risk groups. 
 
In effect, the legal position is that Swiss residents are encouraged to get the vaccine in their canton of residence but are not legally prohibited from doing so in other cantons by the federal government.

The Local Switzerland has also heard reports of some cantonal medical authorities refusing to vaccinate residents from other cantons, or requiring a connection to the canton – such as working there or having a long history of visiting a doctor in the canton. 

As reported by Watson on May 7th, several cantons have required evidence that a person lives in the canton in order to get vaccinated there. 

In Vaud, this is an electricity bill, while in Uri, you just need to show your face as “everyone knows everyone in this small canton”, Watson newspaper reports

Schaffhausen has unilaterally cancelled hundreds of appointments when finding out they related to people from outside of the canton 

In mid-March, Switzerland’s Tages Anzeiger news site broke a story of Zurich residents travelling to the canton of Schwyz to get vaccinated.

According to the newspaper, the Einsiedeln Hospital in the neighbouring canton was not checking residency information.

Little is known about the number of Zurich residents who have been vaccinated in other cantons.

“The Einsiedeln Hospital cannot influence this data and is not obliged to check the people who are vaccinated at our centre,” a spokesperson told the Tages Anzeiger.

Conversely, authorities in Valais have said they will accept registration for people from any canton. 

Are the cantons allowed to do that?
 
At this stage, it appears to be a grey area – with Swiss media reporting that under the federal law, “it is not possible to exclude non-residents”. 
 
Although, while it might not be consistent with the federal policy, the federal government has not indicated it will intervene to force cantons to vaccinate people from outside their borders. 
 
Therefore, it appears at this stage the best approach for those wanting to be vaccinated is to do so in your own canton – or to be transparent about where you live when making an appointment in another canton, unless you want to have your appointment cancelled. 
 
Note: This story was updated on May 7th to reflect specific cantonal policies on vaccination. 

Member comments

  1. This information is not correct. I tried to get vaccinated in Geneva as my doctor and workplace both are here, but since my residence is in Vaud, they would not let me.
    Called the helpline and they confirmed!

    1. Hi Friem,

      As we say in the article, the federal rules allow for vaccination in any canton – but some cantons have been stopping people from doing so. We hope you have received your vaccine now in any case.

      Daniel.

      Daniel Wighton
      Editor
      The Local Switzerland

  2. I think the article is correct, but badly written it should start by stating the facts – Most Cantons will only Vax residents.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

CANNABIS

UPDATE: What are Switzerland’s rules for cannabis consumption?

Switzerland has a complicated set of rules for both medical and recreational cannabis consumption. Here's what you need to know.

UPDATE: What are Switzerland's rules for cannabis consumption?

Long prohibited and seen as a gateway drug with potentially dangerous impacts, countries across the globe have begun legalising cannabis in recent years. 

While the legalisation for medical use has been widespread, there have also been successful legalisation campaigns in several countries. 

The situation in Switzerland is also in flux and has been complicated by a range of recent changes.

Whether referred to as cannabis, marijuana or hemp, Switzerland’s Narcotics Act qualifies it as “a psychoactive substance”, with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) being its most intoxicating ingredient.

The law specifies that “only THC is controlled under the Narcotics Act. Other active substances like cannabidiol (CBD) are not subject to the Narcotics Act as they do not have comparable psychoactive effects”.

Here’s what you need to know. 

Switzerland has legalised medical marijuana 

As of August 1st, the use of cannabis for medical purposes will be allowed in Switzerland

Patients who are medically prescribed the drug will no longer need to seek exceptional permission from the health ministry, as was the case prior to August 1st. 

Demand for cannabis-based treatments has risen sharply, with the health ministry issuing 3,000 exceptional authorisations in 2019.

The government “intends to facilitate access to cannabis for medical use for patients” and was therefore lifting the ban on its use for that purpose, it said in a statement.

The previous procedure involved “tedious administrative procedures”, said the ministry. “Sick people must be able to access these medicines without excessive bureaucracy.”

As of August 1st, “the decision as to whether a cannabis medicinal product is to be used therapeutically will be made by the doctor together with the patient” the government wrote

The sale and consumption of cannabis for non-medical purposes will remain prohibited.

READ MORE: Switzerland to lift ban on medical use cannabis

The new regulations could benefit thousands of people suffering from severe chronic pain, it added, including those with cancer and multiple sclerosis.

READ ALSO: Why Basel is about to become Switzerland’s marijuana capital

The law change will also mean that the cultivation, processing, manufacture and trade of cannabis for medical use will be subject to the Swissmedic regulatory authority, just as with other narcotics for medical use such as cocaine, methadone and morphine.

Legality of recreational cannabis is determined by the THC

THC of at least 1 percent is generally prohibited in Switzerland and use of products with this (or higher) content may be punishable by a 100-franc fine.

Of course, if someone is determined to smoke it, 100 francs may not be much a deterrent — but that’s a subject for another article.

“By contrast, possession of up to 10g of cannabis for personal use is not considered a criminal offence”, the law states, as long as it is not used by or sold to minors.

Italy's constitutional court has blocked the latest efforts to legalise cannabis.

Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP.

And, as with nearly everything else in decentralised Switzerland, “there are still considerable differences between cantons regarding implementation of the fixed penalty procedure”.

However, “cannabis flowers intended for smoking with a high proportion of cannabidiol (CBD) and less than 1 percent THC can be sold and purchased legally”, according to the legislation. 

That’s because, unlike the THC, cannabidiol “does not have a psychoactive effect”.

In other words, low-content THC and CBD will not give the “high” that recreational users seek.

When will Switzerland legalise recreational cannabis?

Currently, small amounts of recreational cannabis are tolerated in Switzerland.

“The decisive factor for classification as a banned drug is how much THC is contained in a cannabis product. If the THC content exceeds one per cent, the product is prohibited. Hashish is prohibited regardless of its THC content.”

As noted by the Swiss government, “If you are caught in possession of a small amount of cannabis (no more than 10 grams) for your own consumption, you will not be fined. In addition, if you supply (but do not sell) up to 10 grams to an adult, e.g. when sharing joints, you will not be fined.”

“If you are caught using cannabis, you may be given a fixed penalty fine of 100 francs.”

In June 2020, the National Council approved a plan to start cannabis trials for recreational use.

The experiments are to be carried out in Switzerland’s larger cities. Basel, Bern, Biel, Geneva and Zurich have all expressed interest in conducting the trials. 

The study seeks to find out how the market for cannabis works – and how to combat the black market. The social effects of legalisation will also be examined. 

At this point, no decisions have been made. However, Swiss authorities have set certain conditions in case recreational use is approved.

The National Council said if cannabis were to be legalised, it must be locally grown in Switzerland – and it must be organic. 

Health Minister Alain Berset noted that legalisation should benefit Swiss farmers even though “very few producers have experience in this area”.

READ MORE: Switzerland backs recreational cannabis trials – with one condition

Can you grow your own cannabis?

In truth, a number of people cultivate marijuana plants on their balconies or in their (secluded) gardens for their own personal use.

As it turns out, the law allows it, as long as it is a variety of the plant that does not have a narcotic effect — that is, the THC content must be less than 1 percent. 

By the same token, cannabis-based products with THC content of below 1 percent can be brought into Switzerland from abroad.

However, the import rules differ depending on the type of product  it is — flowers, seeds, extracts, oils, or other goods.

How much cannabis is consumed in Switzerland each year?

Precise numbers are hard to come by, but according to an article in Le Temps, which based its information on a medical study, about 100 tonnes are consumed in the country annually.

Cannabis remains the largest market in terms of volume: it represents 85 percent of drugs consumed in Switzerland, netting between 340, 000 and 500,000 francs per year.

READ MORE: Drugs and alcohol: Just how much do the Swiss consume?

SHOW COMMENTS