For members


Q&A: Answers to your questions about Switzerland’s expanded Covid-19 certificate

Starting on September 13th, the Swiss Federal Council has introduced extended Covid-19 certificate requirements. Here are some answers to some of the questions readers have been asking.

Q&A: Answers to your questions about Switzerland’s expanded Covid-19 certificate
EPFL is one of Swiss universities that requires a Covid certificate. Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The certificate is now compulsory to access almost all indoor areas, including restaurants, bars, fitness centres, sports events, cultural facilities, as well as some gatherings such as weddings in private venues.

More specifically, “access to cultural and leisure facilities such as museums, libraries, zoos, fitness centres, climbing halls, swimming pools, water parks, spas, billiard halls and casinos is also limited to Covid certificate holders” the Federal Council said.

READ ALSO: How Switzerland’s newly extended Covid-19 certificate works

The government specified, however, that “to protect fundamental rights, religious ceremonies and political events for up to 50 people are exempt, as are self-help groups”.

READ MORE: TODAY: Switzerland extends Covid certificate for entry to restaurants and bars

Is a certificate needed for essential activities like shopping?

No. The same rules as before apply to shopping — that is, masks must be worn and retailers can limit the number of people allowed to enter at the same time, depending on the size of the store.

However, this applies only when you shop in Switzerland; if you are returning from shopping in France, Italy, Germany, or Austria, you must present your Covid certificate at the border.

READ MORE: How Switzerland’s new Covid certificate rule could impact cross-border shopping

Can I go to the hairdresser without the certificate?

Yes, you can. Hairdressers, as well as other personal service providers such as massage therapists and nail salons don’t require Covid certificates.

However, they have specific hygiene protection measures such as frequent disinfection of all surfaces and instruments, along with the compulsory mask wearing on premises.

What about public transport?

Only masks are required on trains, buses, and trams. A Covid certificate is not compulsory, at least at the moment, though Graubünden is calling for the introduction of a certificate requirement for public transport and retail stores. 

Under the canton’s plan, only those who have been vaccinated, tested negative or who have recently recovered from the virus, and have a valid Covid certificate, would be able to use public transport or go shopping.

However, no other canton, or the federal government, has said anything about implementing this particular requirement.

Will I be able to go skiing without the certificate?

We don’t know yet.

Lukas Engelberger, president of the Conference of Cantonal Health Directors wants to make the certificate compulsory to access the ski slopes. He argues that “being able to ski without a mask will be nice and the ski lifts could thus increase their capacity”.

However, at least one mountainous canton, Valais, is against this suggestion.

“We want to be on an equal footing with public transport where wearing a mask, but not the Covid pass, is compulsory”, said Didier Défago, president of the Valais ski lifts.

Can the certificate be extended to students and teachers at public universities?

“The cantons or universities may introduce a certificate requirement for teaching at Bachelor and Master level”, according to the Federal Council.

“In such cases, students would not be required to wear a mask and there would be no restriction on classroom capacity”.

In fact, some universities have already implemented this rule, including the Federal Polytechnic Institute (EPFL), University of Geneva, University of Lausanne, and University of Neuchâtel.

Here are some answers relating to the use of Covid certificate at work and when arriving to Switzerland from abroad:

Can your boss require you to have a Covid certificate in Switzerland?

Travel: Switzerland to tighten entry rules from September 20th

Member comments

  1. My husband’s mother and auntie are visiting us for two weeks. They are British, both 87 yrs old, both have NHS covid certificates digital and PDF form, never tested positive for covid… yet their NHS certificates were not honored on local coffee shop in Signy. We tried to get some help from British consulate and related covid-Swiss websites, including local doctors to explain why but no answer…

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For members


EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023 but what does this mean for travellers?

The EU has announced that its Covid travel certificate will be extended until 2023. Claudia Delpero looks at what this mean if you have a trip planned this year.

EU extends Covid travel certificates until 2023 but what does this mean for travellers?

Cleaning up the phone and thinking of getting rid of that Covid app? Just wait a minute. 

The European Union has decided to extend the use of EU Covid certificates by one year, until June 30th 2023. 

The European Commission first made the proposal in February as the virus, and the Omicron variant in particular, was continuing to spread in Europe. At that point it was “not possible to determine the impact of a possible increase in infections in the second half of 2022 or of the emergence of new variants,” the Commission said. 

Now tourism is taking off again, while Covid cases are on the rise in several European countries.

So the EU has taken action to ensure that travellers can continue using the so-called ‘digital green certificates’ in case new restrictions are put in place after their initial deadline of June 30th, 2022. 

What is the EU ‘digital green certificate’?

If you have travelled within the EU in the last year, you have probably already used it.

On 1st July 2021, EU countries started to introduce the ‘digital green certificate’, a Covid pass designed by the European Commission to facilitate travel between EU member states following months of restrictions.

It can be issued to EU citizens and residents who have been vaccinated against Covid, have tested negative or have recovered from the virus, as a proof of their health status. 

Although it’s called a certificate, it isn’t a separate document, it’s just a way of recognising all EU countries’ national health pass schemes.

It consists of a QR code displayed on a device or printed.

So if you live in an EU country, the QR code issued when you were vaccinated or tested can be scanned and recognised by all other EU countries – you can show the code either on a paper certificate or on your country’s health pass app eg TousAntiCovid if you’re in France or the green pass in Italy. 

Codes are recognised in all EU 27 member states, as well as in 40 non-EU countries that have joined the scheme, including the UK – full list here.

What does the extension of certificates mean? 

In practice, the legal extension of the EU Covid pass does not mean much if EU countries do not impose any restrictions.

It’s important to point out that each country within the EU decides on its own rules for entry – requiring proof of vaccination, negative tests etc so you should check with your country of destination.

All the EU certificate does is provide an easy way for countries to recognise each others’ certificates.

At present travel within the EU is fairly relaxed, with most countries only requiring negative tests for unvaccinated people, but the certificate will become more relevant again if countries impose new measures to curb the spread of the virus. 

According to the latest data by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, countries such as France, Portugal and parts of Italy and Austria are in the red again. 

The EU legislation on the certificate neither prescribes nor prohibits such measures, but makes sure that all certificate holders are treated in the same way in any participating country. 

The EU certificate can also be used for access to venues such as bars and restaurants if countries decided to re-impose health or vaccines passes on a domestic basis.

So nothing changes?

In fact, the legislation introduces some changes to the current certificates. These include the clarification that passes issued after vaccination should reflect all doses administered, regardless of the member state where the inoculation occurred. This followed complaints of certificates indicating an incorrect number of vaccine doses when these were received in different countries.

In addition, new rules allow the possibility to issue a certificate of recovery following an antigen test and extend the range of uthorised antigen tests to qualify for the green pass. 

To support the development and study of vaccines against Covid, it will also be possible to issue vaccination certificates to people participating in clinical trials.

At the insistence of the European Parliament, the Commission will have to publish an assessment of the situation by December 31st 2022 and propose to repeal or maintain the certificate accordingly. So, while it is extended for a year, the certificate could be discontinued earlier if it will no longer be consider necessary. 

The European parliament rapporteur, Spanish MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar, said: “The lack of coordination from EU governments on travel brought chaos and disruption to the lives of millions of Europeans that simply wanted to move freely and safely throughout the EU.

“We sincerely hope that the worst of the pandemic is far behind us and we do not want Covid certificates in place a day longer than necessary.”

Vaccination requirements for the certificate

An EU certificate can be issued to a person vaccinated with any type of vaccine, but many countries accept only EMA-approved vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Valneva and Janssen) – if you have been vaccinated with another vaccine, you should check the rules on the country you are travelling to.  

Certificates remain valid for 9 months (270) days following a complete vaccination cycle – so if you had your vaccine more than nine months ago you will need a booster in order to be considered fully vaccinated.

There is no requirement for a second booster, so if you have had a booster you remain ‘fully vaccinated’ even if your booster was administered more than 9 months ago. 

As of 1st March 2022, EU countries had issued almost 1.2 billion EU Covid certificates, of which 1.15 billion following vaccination, 511 million as a result of tests and 55 million after recovery from the virus. 

France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and Austria are the countries that have issued the largest number of EU Covid certificates.