For members


Switzerland ends free Covid testing: Everything you need to know

As of Monday, October 11th, Covid testing is no longer free in Switzerland. Here’s what you need to know.

A sign in German shows the way to a Covid test centre.
A Covid test centre. Covid testing will no longer be free in Switzerland from October 11th onwards. Photo: Ina FASSBENDER / AFP

Since the early days of the pandemic, the Swiss government has been covering the cost of Covid tests in most or all cases. 

In recent months, this has even been for tourists and other visitors to Switzerland. 

However, as of October 11th, Covid testing will no longer be free for most Swiss residents. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Why is Switzerland ending free Covid testing? 

The two major reasons for the decision are the costs of the free tests and the country’s lagging vaccination rate. 

The cost of the tests, which is estimated at four million francs per day, is high – particularly when free vaccinations are available to everyone in Switzerland. 

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.

Another reason is the vaccination rate. 

At the time the tests were made no longer free, Switzerland had fully vaccinated less than 60 percent of the population (59 percent), several points less than the European Union average of 64 percent. 

Who will still get free tests? 

There will be some exceptions to the new rule. 

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 – but you will not be able to get a Covid certificate. 

This is to stop people saying they have Covid symptoms in order to get a test. 

If you want to visit a hospital or old aged home testing will also be free, however these tests will not be valid for your Covid certificate. 

Those who have had one shot 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. 

Those under the age of 16 will also still get free tests. 

Anyone who has a medical certificate which proves they cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons will get free tests. 

More information is available at the following link. 

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

Where can I get tested? 

The locations of the tests will be largely the same as when they were free. 

This includes pharmacies, GP offices and cantonal test centres. 

Private test centres are also an option, although these may start to close if fewer people get tested. 

How much will a Covid test now cost in Switzerland? 

The cost of a Covid test is not yet determined, but is estimated to cost between CHF40 and CHF50. 

Previously, providers received CHF47 from the Swiss government for each test. 

More information on the costs of Covid tests is available below. 

READ MORE: How much do Covid tests now cost in Switzerland?

What about testing for returning travellers or new arrivals? 

Nothing has changed regarding testing for returning travellers and new arrivals to Switzerland. 

Depending on where you are entering from, you may need to either take one or two tests on arrival in Switzerland – or no tests at all. 

In each case, you will need to pay for these tests (unless you have any of the above exemptions). 

More information on the entry rules is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: Who can enter Switzerland right now and what are the rules?

What about my regular workplace tests? 

Some educational institutions and workplaces will have regular Covid testing, i.e. twice a week. 

Whether this is sufficient for a Covid certificate is not uniformly regulated, writes Swiss news outlet Watson. 

For instance, in some workplaces, regular tests will be valid for Covid certificates – but in others, they will not. 

Ask your workplace or educational institution as to whether the regular tests will suffice for the Covid certificate. 

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For members


Most PCR tests no longer free in Switzerland

As the quarantine obligation for contact persons was lifted from Thursday, Swiss government will continue to cover only a limited number of tests.

Only certain people, like elderly care home residents, will continue to have free PCR tests. Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG/ AFP
Only certain people, like elderly care home residents, will continue to have free PCR tests. Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG/ AFP

Before the new rule went into effect Wednesday at midnight, the government paid for PCR screening for contact persons — those who live with or had “regular and close” contact with someone who tested positive. 

Under the previous framework, anyone who had close contact with a Covid-positive person was required to isolate for five days. 

But since these contacts are no longer required to quarantine, their PCR tests are not covered.

However, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), there are a range of exceptions.

The government will continue to pay costs of screening for certain groups of people, including those living in elderly care facilities, hospital patients and healthcare workers, as well as people who are at a particularly high risk, such as those undergoing chemotherapy.

All the others will have to pay for their tests themselves; prices for PCR tests range from 110 to 195 francs, depending on the screening location and rapidity of results.

The Federal Council announced the lifting of contact quarantine on February  2nd, along with the end of the home-working obligation.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Swiss to end quarantine and working from home obligation from Wednesday

Other measures, like the Covid certificate requirement and restrictions on private meetings, could be scrapped from February 17th, provided Switzerland’s  epidemiological situation allows it.