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TRAVEL

Q&A: What you should know about travelling abroad from Switzerland right now

As summer holidays are fast approaching, more and more people are booking their foreign holidays. But before you leave, know what rules are in place for residents of Switzerland.

Q&A: What you should know about travelling abroad from Switzerland right now
Most of Europe is open to vaccinated residents of Switzerland. JAIME REINA / AFP

After nearly 18 months of closed borders and tight entry restrictions, non-essential travel is permitted again, at least to some foreign lands – but it all depends on each country’s epidemiological situation.

And just in time for the summer, a number of airlines are adding dozens of new destinations from Switzerland.

READ MORE: Airlines add dozens of new destinations from Switzerland in time for summer

So let’s look at various aspects of international travel – where you can go and what do you need to get there?

I am a resident of Switzerland. Can I travel throughout Europe without any problems?

Depending on the country, different requirements may apply.

Some have no entry restrictions for fully vaccinated people or those who recovered from Covid in the past six months, while others require either a PCR or antigen test, especially if you haven’t been vaccinated.

And speaking of vaccinations, only people who were administered EU-approved vaccines will be admitted without a test.

‘Travelcheck’: This tool shows you what you need to enter Switzerland

This includes Moderna and Pfizer / Biontech – the two vaccines used in Switzerland.

Another point to remember is that by “vaccinated” governments mean travellers who have received both doses of the vaccine, except for Johnson & Johnson which is a single-dose vaccine.

But for Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, travellers must show proof of being inoculated with both doses; otherwise, they will have to have a negative Covid test.

There are also rules in place for travelling with children.

READ MORE: COMPARE: What are the Covid test requirements around Europe for child travellers

Keep in mind that regulations can change from one minute to another if epidemiological situation in your destination country worsens, so check the updates often.

Q: What are the rules for Europe right now?

There are no entry restrictions for people arriving from Schengen zone countries, including Switzerland, provided they have been vaccinated. 

This rule pertains to anyone residing in Switzerland, no matter what nationality they have.

What counts is the place of residence, not citizenship.

Q: What about further afield? 

Outside the Schengen/EFTA zone, things get a little more complicated. 

Entering the United Kingdom is possible, however as Switzerland is on the UK’s amber list, you must quarantine for ten days, along with bringing a negative Covid test (even if you’re vaccinated). 

Once there, you will need to pay for two more Covid tests, one on the second day and one on the eighth day, before ending the quarantine on the tenth day. 

As far as the United States, Australia and New Zealand are concerned, the travel ban on foreign tourists is still in place, with no news about when it will be lifted.

Q: Do I need an antigen or PCR test?

Regulations vary depending on your destination, especially for unvaccinated travellers.

You should check either latest travel advisories for the country where you are going, or the website of its embassy / consulate in Switzerland.

Also, regardless of what test you need, it must be in the form of an official document (either printed or  digital) with the name and address of medical facility where the test was performed, your name and date of birth, the date when test was done, as well as the signature and stamp of the facility.

It can be issued in any of Switzerland’s national languages, but English must also be included.

Keep in mind that dates when screening is done vary according to the type of test: 72 hours for PCR and 14-48 hours for antigen.

Q: Will the EU recognise my Swiss Covid certificate?

The government said that Swiss certificate is compatible with the EU format.

However, keep in mind that the Covid certificate is not a travel document, at least not at this early stage.

To prove your immunity, you should  carry either an official copy of your vaccination certificate or proof of recovery from the disease.

Q: What else should I pay attention to before I travel abroad?

Check what the requirements will be upon your return to Switzerland.

Right now, and assuming that the situation doesn’t get worse, you can enter the country without having to test if you are fully vaccinated or recovered.

If you are not, then you will have to have a test.

Right now, these rules apply.

READ MORE: UPDATED: Who can travel to Switzerland right now?

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For members

LEARNING FRENCH

How to talk email, websites, social media and phone numbers in Swiss French

It's a very common experience to have to give out your phone number or email address in Switzerland, or take down the address of a website, so here's how to do this if you're in the French-speaking part of the country.

How to talk email, websites, social media and phone numbers in Swiss French

The correct names for punctuation marks used to be fairly low down on any French-learner’s list, but these days they are vital whenever you need to explain an email address, website or social media account.

Likewise if you want to talk about websites, or social media posts, there are some things that you need to know. 

Punctuation

Obviously punctuation points have their own names, and making sure you get the periods, dashes and underscores correct is vital to giving out account details. 

Full stop/period . point. Pronounced pwan, this is most commonly heard for Swiss websites or email addresses which end in. ch (pronounced pwan ce ash).

If you have a site that ends in .com you say ‘com’ as a word just as you would in English – pwan com.

At symbol @ Arobase – so for example the email address [email protected] would be jean pwan dupont arobas bluewin pwan ce ash.

Ampersand/and symbol & esperluette

Dash – tiret

Underscore _ tiret bas 

Forward slash / barre oblique

Upper case/capital lettersMajuscule (or lettre majuscule)

Lower caseminiscule

The following punctuation points are less common in email or web addresses, but worth knowing anyway:

Comma , virgule. In French a decimal point is indicated with a comma so two and a half would be 2,5 (deux virgule cinq)

Exclamation mark ! point d’exclamation – when you are writing in French you always leave a space between the final letter of the word and the exclamation mark – comme ça !

Question mark ? point d’interrogation – likewise, leave a space between the final character and a question mark 

Brackets/parentheses ( ) parenthèse

Quotation marks « » guillemets 

Numbers

If you need to give your phone number out, the key thing to know is that Swiss-French people pair the numbers in a phone number when speaking.

So say your number is 079 345 6780, in French you would say zero septante-neuf, trois-cents quarante-cinq, soixante-sept, huitante (zero seventy-nine, three hundred forty-five, sixty-seven, eighty ).

Mobile numbers in Switzerland  begin with 079 or 078 (zero septante-neuf or zero septante-huit).

Social media

If you want to give out your Twitter or Instagram handle, the chances are you might need to know some punctuation terms as described above.

Otherwise the good news is that a lot of English-language social media terms are used in Switzerland too.

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have the same names in Switzerland and have entered the language in other ways too, for example you might describe your dinner as très instagrammable – ie it’s photogenic and would look good on Instagram.

On Twitter you can suivre (follow), aimer (like) or retweet (take a wild guess). You’ll often hear the English words for these terms too, though pronounced with a French accent.

There is a French translation for hashtag – it’s dièse mot, but in reality hashtag is also very widely used.

Tech is one of those areas where new concepts come along so quickly that the English terms often get embedded into everyday use before the French-speakers can think up an alternative.

READ MORE: French-speaking Switzerland: Seven life hacks that will make you feel like a local

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