Covid certificate: Can the UK’s NHS app be used in Switzerland?
Switzerland’s stricter Covid certificate rules may pose challenges for non-EU travellers. Here’s what we know so far.
PLEASE NOTE: From Monday, September 20th, Switzerland changed the entry rules, allowing those vaccinated with AstraZeneca to get a Covid certificate. Read here for more.
This guide was last updated on November 16th, 2021.
From Monday, September 13th, anyone visiting bars, restaurants, gyms or many other cultural venues, will need to show the certificate.
The Covid-19 certificate – otherwise known as the Covid-19 pass or the green pass – is available in paper and digital form.
The pass “provides documentary evidence that you have had a COVID-19 vaccination, have had and recovered from the disease or have tested negative”.
Everyone over the age of 16 will have to show a Covid certificate. People aged 15 and under will not.
What are the rules for entering Switzerland?
You can show your NHS app or any other official evidence that you have been vaccinated, including paper evidence, when asked at the border.
We have heard from some readers that border guards are reluctant to accept the NHS app, however Swiss tourism authorities have confirmed to The Local that a valid NHS app is sufficient for entry into Switzerland (either in electronic or printed form).
As a backup, please try and bring your paper evidence of being vaccinated with you.
The vaccines accepted for entry into Switzerland are any of those which have been approved by the EMA and include those commonly administered in the UK.
More information about the vaccines which are accepted for entry into Switzerland can be found at the following link.
Can I use the NHS app in Switzerland?
Currently, apps from other EU countries can be used in Switzerland anywhere where the Covid certificate is required.
The situation for non-EU apps is more difficult and requires a specific approval.
This was confirmed to The Local by Switzerland Tourism. You will be able to scan your NHS app into Switzerland's Covid Check framework and it will be accepted, i.e. with the same status as a valid Swiss Covid certificate.
How long has this been the case?
A spokesperson from the Swiss government told The Local on September 10th that a policy change was being considered which would allow for non-EU apps to be used. This was also confirmed in a press release, which can be found here.
Officially Switzerland changed the underlying rules on November 1st, however some official government guidance continues to indicate that only EU apps will be accepted.
This led to some confusion, with the government info line telling The Local as recently as November 16th that UK visitors should get the Swiss Covid certificate rather than using the NHS app in Switzerland.
However, Switzerland Tourism confirmed on November 16th that the NHS app can be used wherever the Covid certificate is required - and will continue to be valid for the winter season.
Many bars, restaurants and other venues across Switzerland accept the NHS app - along with other foreign, non-EU certificates like Israel's green pass - where the Covid certificate is required.
However, despite contradictory reports online - including from the UK government - the official Swiss government position is that only EU apps can be accepted where the Covid certificate is required.
More information is outlined by the Swiss government in English here.
This story has been updated to reflect the Swiss government's decision to accept the NHS app domestically (i.e. wherever the Covid certificate is required).