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Reader question: I am American. Can I enter Switzerland after spending time in Italy?

Reader question: I am American. Can I enter Switzerland after spending time in Italy?
Travel to Switzerland may soon be permitted, but not yet. Valeriano de Domenico / AFP
Switzerland’s ever-changing rules on travel, tourism, and border crossings are confusing. This is what we know right now.

As The Local has explained in an article published on May 7th, Switzerland is not completely closed to tourists and foreigners, but whether they are allowed in depends on their place of residence.

There are no entry restrictions for people living in Schengen and EU countries, or in the small European states like Andorra, the Vatican, Monaco and San Marino. 

But if you live outside of the EU/EFTA in a so-called “third country”, generally speaking entry is prohibited, with the exception of a handful of nations listed here.

These are the so-called “safe countries”, with low enough infection rates to allow non-essential travel.

All the nations and regions not on this short list are considered “high-risk” and there is a travel ban in place from those areas.

The ban doesn’t extend to Swiss citizens and permanent residents returning to Switzerland. 

What if you are a resident of the United States or another third country but stay in a EU / Schengen state before coming to Switzerland?

Therefore, under the current rules, entering an EU state from the United States or any other prohibited country before coming to Switzerland will not be allowed.  

There is a slight chance you could get in by falling through the cracks, but this would mean you are breaking the law.

Most likely, you would be intercepted somewhere between your place of departure and arrival in Switzerland, as border controls are stricter now than before the pandemic.

There are several checks that are done before you enter the country by airplane or another form of transportation.

Firstly, you must fill an entry form, where you have to indicate not just where you are coming from, but also the address in your permanent country of residence.

Once you complete the registration, you will receive a QR code that you will have to present for inspection both on departure and arrival.

Secondly, before boarding an airplane, train or bus with a passport from a high-risk country, you will be asked to justify your eligibility to enter Switzerland — that is, to prove that you are a citizen or permanent resident of Switzerland or another Schengen / EU country.

This is the situation right now, but it could change depending on when you plan to travel

There has been a lot of talk lately about life getting back to normal (or as close to normal as possible), including travel, for summer holidays.

READ MORE: UPDATE: When will Switzerland relax restrictions on international travel?

In fact, the EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recently said that the European Union should open its external borders to vaccinated travellers from non-EU countries.

Switzerland doesn’t belong to the EU, but it has adhered to the bloc’s travel rules, especially as it is part of the Schengen area. So the chances are good that the country will not remain off-limits for immunised tourists from some destinations currently on high-risk list.

Véronique Kanel from Switzerland Tourism told The Local on May 6th, that while “precise forecasts are almost impossible”, some tourists from overseas, including Americans, may be able to enter “during the summer at the earliest”.

Whether, or how soon, this will happen will depend on how quickly a digital coronavirus immunity card, also known as the vaccine certificate or vaccine passport, will be launched.

READ MORE: UPDATED: Everything you need to know about the ‘green pass’, Switzerland’s coronavirus immunity card

The Swiss government set the launch date for the end of June.

The Local is following this issue closely and will report on any changes as they happen.


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