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EXPLAINED: Who will continue to get free Covid tests in Switzerland after October 10th?

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EXPLAINED: Who will continue to get free Covid tests in Switzerland after October 10th?
A Covid-19 test centre in Bern set up in an outdoor tent. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The Swiss government will no longer cover the costs of Covid tests from October 10th onwards, but is this only for the unvaccinated?


The Swiss government indicated in August it would stop covering the costs of Covid testing from October 1st. 

In late September, this deadline was extended until the 10th of October as part of a compromise to encourage more people to get vaccinated. 

When the rules were put in place, government and media sources reported that testing would no longer be free “for the unvaccinated”. 

However, there has been some confusion over who exactly must pay for tests - and for whom they are free. 

Here’s what you need to know. 


Why does Switzerland want to end free testing? 

Ultimately, the main reason the government wants to end free testing is to encourage people to get vaccinated. 

Currently, Covid certificates are available to those who test negative to the virus, along with the vaccinated and people who have caught the virus and recovered in recent months. 

By making people pay for their own tests, they will be more likely to take up the free vaccination option. 

Another major reason is the cost of the tests, which is estimated at four million francs per day. 

If the tests were to remain free until January 24th, 2022 - the date the Covid certificate requirement expires - they would cost the federal government around 770 million francs.

Does everyone now have to pay for the tests? 

From October 10th, Covid tests will cost between 40 and 50 francs each time. 

Contrary to media reports and government statements, the tests will not be free for people who are vaccinated - however the vaccinated are unlikely to be tested regularly, as this is not a Covid certificate requirement. 

Those who have had one shot however will still be entitled to free tests, until they get their second shot. This does not apply in the case of being vaccinated with the one-shot Johnson and Johnson. 

From October 10th, testing will still be free for people who have Covid symptoms. 

Testing will be free for those with symptoms whether or not the person in question has been vaccinated. 

However, they cannot be used to add to the Covid certificate, meaning that people who pretend to have symptoms to be tested will not get a valid Covid certificate as a result. 

Those who cannot be vaccinated will still be entitled to free tests however - and these can be included in the Covid certificate. 

Reader question: I can’t get vaccinated. How do I get Switzerland’s Covid certificate?

People aged under 16 will also qualify for free tests. 

Official information on testing in Switzerland can be found here. 



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