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TRAVEL

How can tourists and visitors in Switzerland get a Covid test?

These days, negative Covid tests are required practically everywhere in the world, including in Switzerland. This is what you should know about testing if you are visiting from abroad.

How can tourists and visitors in Switzerland get a Covid test?
There are many testing centres in all parts of Switzerland. OLI SCARFF / AFP

Testing sites are ubiquitous in Switzerland with practically every community offering various screening venues and options.

They are, however, intended primarily for those who have Swiss health insurance, as the government is assuming the cost of tests for all residents, with the exception of tests needed for travel.

What about foreign visitors?

You need a test before coming to Switzerland

Most people arriving in the country are required to have a negative PCR or antigen test, which is not older than 72 hours.

However, there may be circumstances preventing you from having this test — for instance, there are no testing facilities in your country of origin, or it is not possible to have results delivered within 72 hours.

In fact, you will have to fill out a form certifying that you had no possibility to get tested prior to travelling. 

If this is your case, you must be tested immediately upon arrival at the airport in Zurich, Geneva or Basel.

READ MORE: Swiss government under fire for failing to close coronavirus travel loopholes

You will have to pay for those tests yourself and while you wait for your results you may have to go into quarantine. Local officials will inform you accordingly.

You think you may have contracted the virus while in Switzerland

In this case, and regardless of which country you came from, you must get tested immediately.

Some screening centres require appointments, while others don’t. You can the find the centre nearest to you, as well as opening hours and whether appointment is needed here.

As you are not a resident of Switzerland and presumably don’t have Swiss health insurance, you will have to pay for the tests yourself. Prices vary depending on the location.

You will also have to quarantine until the test results are known.

You need a test to travel back to your country.

Here too, you should contact the centre nearest to where you are and request a travel certificate, for which you will have to pay.

The price will depend on whether you need a PCR or antigen test, the latter being the cheaper of the two.

If only an antigen test is needed, and if you are leaving by air, then you can get tested before your flight at one of the airports mentioned above.

This information applies to tests right now. The rules may change when the international Covid / immunity pass becomes available this summer.

The Local will update the information as it becomes available.

READ MORE: PCR, rapid and self-tests: Your guide to coronavirus testing in Switzerland

Member comments

  1. A law passed at Federal level in February 2021 extended free Covid vaccination to all CH residents irrespective of whether or not they have a Swiss health insurance. So your comment about vaccinations being limited to residents with Swiss health insurance is inaccurate.
    Robert Leigh

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TRAVEL

What is the fine for not filling out Switzerland’s Covid arrival form?

There is one essential form all travellers to Switzerland must fill out, but many don’t. If caught, border guards will hand out fines.

A 100-franc fine could be imposed on those who don’t fill out the Personal Locator Form
Important paperwork: Switzerland-bound travellers must fill out the PLF form or risk getting fined. Photo by Zurich Airport

With constantly changing travel rules, it is difficult to keep up with all the regulations that need to be followed to enter Switzerland (and all the other countries, for that matter).

Since September 20th, everyone arriving in Switzerland, regardless of their country of origin, mode of transport, or vaccination status, must fill out the electronic Personal Location Form (PLF).

Once filled out and registered online, you will receive a QR code which you will have to show when entering Switzerland.

However, some people may be unaware of the requirement and enter the country without this form.

READ MORE: Here is the form you need to enter Switzerland

Checks are done randomly, so many travellers slip in without having filled this form. But if caught, you will have to pay a 100-franc fine.

So far, 200 people had to pay this fine, according to Tamedia media group.

The only people exempted from this rule are transit passengers, long-haul lorry drivers transporting goods across borders,  children under 16, cross-border workers, and residents of border areas.

The PLF requirement is an addition to other travel regulations the Federal Council implemented in September:

Two tests to enter Switzerland are now required for the unvaccinated and unrecovered.

Unvaccinated arrivals and those who have not contracted and recovered from the virus in the past six months must show two negative tests. 

The first proof should be presented when arriving in Switzerland.  Then, four to seven days later, travellers will have to undergo another test, which they must pay for themselves.

Both PCR and antigen results are accepted.

These rules only apply to arrivals from nations not on the Switzerland’s high-risk list. As the United States and United Kingdom are considered high risk, only vaccinated people from those countries can arrive in Switzerland.

This article contains more information on the rules which apply. 

EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland’s new travel and Covid certificate rules?

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