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COVID-19 CERTIFICATE

Reader question: Which information do staff see when scanning my Swiss Covid certificate?

The certificate in Switzerland, whether in digital or paper form, contains a QR code, which is scanned by checkers in restaurants, bars, and other indoor venues. What personal information does it reveal?

A waiter checks a person's Covid credentials
A waiter checks a customer's Covid certificate. Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP

Since September 13th, staff with tablets checking Covid certificates in indoor venues are a common sight. They are now part of our reality, and will remain so until at least January 24th, 2022.

Some people may be nervous about revealing their personal details to random individuals.

However, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), the information on your certificate and also encrypted in the QR code doesn’t divulge anything other than details about your immunity status either after vaccination or recovery, or confirmation of your negative test.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How do visitors get Switzerland’s Covid certificate to access bars, gyms and restaurants?

In its instructions, FOPH outlined these three things that staff must check to ensure the validity on each certificate:

  • Does the certificate contain a valid electronic signature?
  • Has the certificate definitely not been revoked?
  • Does the certificate meet Switzerland’s validity criteria?

The following is what is seen in the QR code.

On the certificate itself, there is your full name and date of birth, along with what kind of vaccine you had, how many doses, the date of the second vaccination, the country where you were inoculated, the validity of the certificate, as well as a code number for your document.

Image by FOPH

Where is your data stored for the COVID certificate? 

Only in your app; no information is stored in a central system, according to FOPH:

 “If you lose your smartphone and the paper printout, you must request another certificate from the place where you were vaccinated or tested”; FOPH said.

Can you be sure your certificate is not misused or forged?

We can only go by what the FOPH says:

“The QR code on your certificate contains an electronic signature. The signature is an important security feature and makes the certificate forgery-proof”.

Additionally, when your certificate is checked, you may be required to show a photo ID to prove that you are the legal holder and someone else is not using it in your place.

READ MORE: UPDATED: A step-by-step guide to getting the Swiss Covid certificate

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For members

SWISS CITIZENSHIP

Reader question: Can I speak any Swiss language to satisfy citizenship rules?

Proficiency in a Swiss language is required to become a citizen, but does it need to be the language spoken in your canton of residence?

Reader question: Can I speak any Swiss language to satisfy citizenship rules?

For anyone wanting to obtain Swiss citizenship through naturalisation, you will need to demonstrate proficiency in one of Switzerland’s national languages. 

Switzerland has four official national languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. 

Fortunately, you only need to be proficient in one of these languages.

How to apply for Swiss citizenship: An essential guide

English, while widely spoken in Switzerland, is not an official language of Switzerland and English proficiency will not grant you Swiss citizenship. 

What are the language rules for becoming Swiss? 

Fortunately, Switzerland has relatively recently changed its language requirements, making them far less confusing to understand and navigate. 

Decent language skills have always been necessary for Swiss citizenship but requirements used to vary depending on the canton. 

But under the 2018 changes, which came into effect on January 1st, 2019, there is now a uniform minimum level of language proficiency required on a federal basis. 

Candidates must demonstrate A2 level writing ability (elementary) and B1 (intermediate) spoken skills. This is the level set out in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Cantons are free to set a higher bar if they wish, as Thurgau has done by requiring citizenship candidates to have B1-level written German and B2 (upper intermediate) spoken German. The rules are also stricter in St Gallen and Schwyz. 

More information is available at the following link. 

Naturalisation: How well must I speak a Swiss language for citizenship?

Does it need to be the language spoken in my canton of residence? 

Moving to Switzerland, it may appear you have three world languages to choose from, although by and large this is not the case. 

As the tests are done at a communal level, the language in the commune in question is the one you need to speak

Therefore, if you have flawless French and live in Schwyz, you need to improve your German in order to make sure you pass the test. 

While some Swiss cantons are bilingual, this is comparatively rare at a municipal level. 

A Swiss Federal Supreme Court case from 2022 held that a person is required to demonstrate language proficiency in the administrative language of the municipality in which they apply, even if they are a native speaker of a different Swiss language. 

In that case, a Cameroonian who arrived in Switzerland at the age of eight with French as her native tongue was required to demonstrate proficiency in German in order to be successfully naturalised in the German-speaking commune of Thun. 

What are The Local Switzerland’s reader questions?

As part of our service to our readers and members, we often answer questions on life in Switzerland via email when people get in touch with us. 

When these have value to the greater Local Switzerland community, we put them together as an article, with ‘reader question’ in the headline. 

All readers of The Local Switzerland can ask a reader question, i.e. you do not need to be a member. If you do find our reporting valuable however, then please consider signing up

You do not need to live in Switzerland to ask a reader question, i.e. you could be coming to Switzerland for a holiday and have a specific question. However, the questions have to be related to Switzerland in some way. 

We will only turn a question into a reader question article where it has value to the broader Local community and where we can answer it.

READ MORE: What are The Local Switzerland’s reader questions?

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