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Travel: What documents do Americans need to visit Switzerland?

People from the United States have been allowed to visit Switzerland since June 28th. What travel documents do they need to be allowed entry into the country?

Travel: What documents do Americans need to visit Switzerland?
The Yanks are coming: make sure you have the necessary documents. Photo: JAIME REINA / AFP

Before the pandemic struck and travel restrictions were implemented, it was easy for American tourists to enter Switzerland.

In most cases, a valid passport was sufficient.

However, things are much more complicated now.

At the moment, travellers from the US must follow these entry rules. 

They must have a QR code

Before boarding the plane, an electronic entry form must be filled out. Once you complete it online and send it back, you will receive a personalised QR code as proof of registration.

You will be asked to show this code at the airport check-in, at all transit airports, and at arrival in Switzerland.

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

Only vaccinated and recovered US tourists can come to Switzerland and remain here without further requirements

You must be inoculated with one of the vaccines approved by the European Union, which currently are Moderna, Pfizer / Biontech, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.

Also, you must have proof showing you have been fully vaccinated — an official document issued by a recognised health authority.

It can be either in digital or in paper form, must have your full name and date of birth, dates when both doses were administered (or a single dose in case of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine), as well as the name and batch number of the vaccine.

One thing to keep in mind is that travel should take place at least 14 days after the final dose, which is when immunity to coronavirus is believed to fully kick in.

In addition, people can enter from non-Schengen zone countries, provided they have recovered from the virus in the past six months. 

To prove it, you need either a medical certificate which shows you have had the virus – or a confirmation of a positive test. This must be within the last six months but more than ten days ago. 

What about those not vaccinated or recovered?

If the person is not vaccinated, or only partially vaccinated, they would have to present a negative Covid test, either PCR or antigen, taken within 48 hours before arrival in Switzerland.

If no test can be shown, then the person will have to quarantine for 10 or seven days, which pretty much defeats the purpose of  a vacation.

These rules apply not only to US passport holders but to any resident of the United States, regardless of nationality.

What about the health pass / Covid certificate?

To date, the United States, unlike Europe, has not issued such a document, though there is an ongoing debate on this subject.

However, vaccination or recovery certificate, as mentioned above, is sufficient for entry to Switzerland.

What about American tourists who arrive to Switzerland after holidaying in other European countries?

It doesn’t matter whether a person transits through or stays in another country before arriving in Switzerland.

The same rules — that is, either the vaccination / immunity certificate or negative test or quarantine apply, even if the traveller arrives from a high-variant area like the UK.

These are the rules and regulations right now, bit they may change if the epidemiological situation in Switzerland and / or the US worsens.

UPDATE: Switzerland confirms vaccinated Americans and Brits can enter from June 26th

Member comments

  1. Interesting thank you. As I understand the situation at the moment it is easier for somebody travelling from the US than it is from Britain, even when transiting other countries. I’m trying to find out the requirements to and from England via France (driving in a car) starting out of Switzerland when all parties involved are double vaccinated. It seems that various forms and above all recent Covid tests are required in both directions at the UK/French borders (Channel Tunnel). I was reading up on this yesterday (06/07/2021) – does anybody know if this is this still the situation or has it / will it change soon? Thanks in advance.

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OFFBEAT

Is Switzerland’s male-only mandatory military service ‘discriminatory’?

Under Swiss law, all men must serve at least one year in compulsory national service. But is this discriminatory?

Swiss military members walk across a road carrying guns
A new lawsuit seeks to challenge Switzerland's male-only military service requirement. Is this discriminatory? FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

All men aged between the ages of 18 and 30 are required to complete compulsory military service in Switzerland. 

A lawsuit which worked its way through the Swiss courts has now ended up in the European Court of Human Rights, where the judges will decide if Switzerland’s male-only conscription requirement violates anti-discrimination rules. 

Switzerland’s NZZ newspaper wrote on Monday the case has “explosive potential” and has “what it takes to cause a tremor” to a policy which was first laid out in Switzerland’s 1848 and 1874 Federal Constitutions. 

What is Switzerland’s compulsory military service? 

Article 59 of the Federal Constitution of Switzerland says “Every man with Swiss citizenship is liable for military service. Alternative civilian service shall be provided for by law.”

Recruits must generally do 18 weeks of boot camp (longer in some cases). 

They are then required to spend several weeks in the army every year until they have completed a minimum 245 days of service.

Military service is compulsory for Swiss men aged 18 and over. Women can chose to do military service but this is rare.

What about national rather than military service? 

Introduced in 1996, this is an alternative to the army, originally intended for those who objected to military service on moral grounds. 

READ MORE: The Swiss army’s growing problem with civilian service

Service is longer there than in the army, from the age of 20 to 40. 

This must be for 340 days in total, longer than the military service requirement. 

What about foreigners and dual nationals? 

Once you become a Swiss citizen and are between the ages of 18 and 30, you can expect to be conscripted. 

READ MORE: Do naturalised Swiss citizens have to do military service?

In general, having another citizenship in addition to the Swiss one is not going to exempt you from military service in Switzerland.

However, there is one exception: the obligation to serve will be waved, provided you can show that you have fulfilled your military duties in your other home country.

If you are a Swiss (naturalised or not) who lives abroad, you are not required to serve in the military in Switzerland, though you can voluntarily enlist. 

How do Swiss people feel about military and national service? 

Generally, the obligation is viewed relatively positively, both by the general public and by those who take part in compulsory service. 

While several other European countries have gotten rid of mandatory service, a 2013 referendum which attempted to abolish conscription was rejected by 73 percent of Swiss voters. 

What is the court case and what does it say? 

Martin D. Küng, the lawyer from the Swiss canton of Bern who has driven the case through the courts, has a personal interest in its success. 

He was found unfit for service but is still required to pay an annual bill to the Swiss government, which was 1662CHF for the last year he was required to pay it. 

While the 36-year-old no longer has to pay the amount – the obligation only lasts between the ages of 18 and 30 – Küng is bring the case on principle. 

So far, Küng has had little success in the Swiss courts, with his appeal rejected by the cantonal administrative court and later by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court. 

Previous Supreme Court cases, when hearing objections to men-only military service, said that women are less suitable for conscription due to “physiological and biological differences”.

In Küng’s case, the judges avoided this justification, saying instead that the matter was a constitutional issue. 

‘No objective reason why only men have to do military service’

He has now appealed the decision to the European level. 

While men have previously tried and failed when taking their case to the Supreme Court, no Swiss man has ever brought the matter to the European Court of Human Rights. 

Küng told the NZZ that he considered the rule to be unjust and said the Supreme Court’s decision is based on political considerations. 

“I would have expected the Federal Supreme Court to have the courage to clearly state the obvious in my case and not to decide on political grounds,” Küng said. 

“There is no objective reason why only men have to do military service or pay replacement taxes. On average, women may not be as physically productive as men, but that is not a criterion for excluding them from compulsory military service. 

There are quite a few men who cannot keep up with women in terms of stamina. Gender is simply the wrong demarcation criterion for deciding on compulsory service. If so, then one would have to focus on physical performance.”

Is it likely to pass? 

Küng is optimistic that the Strasbourg court will find in his favour, pointing to a successful appeal by a German man who complained about a fire brigade tax, which was only imposed on men. 

“This question has not yet been conclusively answered by the court” Küng said. 

The impact of a decision in his favour could be considerable, with European law technically taking precedence over Swiss law.

It would set Switzerland on a collision course with the bloc, particularly given the popularity of the conscription provision. 

Küng clarified that political outcomes and repercussions don’t concern him. 

“My only concern is for a court to determine that the current regulation is legally wrong.”

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