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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: What data is stored on Switzerland’s Covid-19 immunity card?

Switzerland is rolling out its Covid-19 health card. While this will allow a return to normality of sorts, it has given rise to questions about data and privacy.

Reader question: What data is stored on Switzerland’s Covid-19 immunity card?

On Monday, June 7th, Switzerland finally released its Covid-19 certificate, which will provide certain rights and privileges to holders for travel and events. 

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

The Covid-19 certificate – otherwise known as the Covid-19 pass or the green pass – is available in paper and digital form. 

According to the Swiss government, the pass “provides documentary evidence that you have had a COVID-19 vaccination, have had and recovered from the disease or have tested negative”. 

International travel will be one of the major privileges of the pass, while domestically it will let you visit bars, restaurants, nightclubs and larger events. 

READ MORE: What will Switzerland’s Covid-19 pass allow you to do?

How will Switzerland’s Covid-19 pass protect my privacy – and what data does it record?

While the exact specifics of the Covid-19 pass are still being developed, it will in effect be a QR code which can either be shown in paper format or in a digital format, i.e. via an app. 

The app was released in early June. You can get access to it at the following link. 

How to get Switzerland’s Covid-19 health pass

One major concern about the pass relates to data and privacy, particularly relating to what information can be seen by the person checking for your Covid-19 pass, i.e. at a bar, event or when travelling. 

This has been clarified by the Swiss government, who said that only your name, date of birth and your status (i.e. whether the certificate is valid) will be available to the person checking it. 

Other information, such as whether you have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative, or how long ago any of this took place, is not available. 

The government has confirmed that you may be asked for your ID so that the person checking the pass can be sure that it belongs to you. 

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MONEY

Reader question: Is Barclays closing bank accounts of Swiss-based Brits?

UK nationals living across Europe have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Will the same apply in Switzerland?

Reader question: Is Barclays closing bank accounts of Swiss-based Brits?

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Europe have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. There appears not to be an option to register for a different account.

Numerous readers of The Local have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency.

However, the widespread closures look set to avoid Swiss-based Brits at this stage, as Switzerland is not a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). 

The changes have been targeted at Brits living in EEA countries. This includes all European Union countries and every EFTA country other than Switzerland. 

A spokesperson for Barclays told The Local on Friday, July 29th, that the bank was “currently only writing to customers within the EEA”. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

What is Barclay’s doing?

The closures have been announced for Brits based in the EEA in recent weeks. 

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local:As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.”

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Many UK nationals who live abroad maintain at least one UK bank account, sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

 
What is the situation in Switzerland?

As it stands, Brits based in Switzerland with Barclays accounts will be OK for the meantime, as the closures only impact those in EEA countries. 

However, a Barclays spokesperson told The Local that their accounts were designed for people living in the UK. 

“As a UK ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK and we continue to review the services we offer to retail customers outside of the UK.”

“If Barclays UK makes a decision to close accounts in any further countries, we will contact customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”

Stay tuned to The Local for more updates on banking and living in Switzerland. 
 
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