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BREXIT

Brexit: Why visiting Switzerland now costs 30 francs more for Brits

As of October 11th, arriving from the UK to Switzerland just got a little more expensive.

The colourful tails of several British Airlines aeroplanes at an airport.
Arriving to Switzerland from the United Kingdom - or most other non-EU/EFTA countries - just got a little more expensive. The colourful tails of several British Airlines aeroplanes at an airport. Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Please note: As of November 1st, visitors from the UK will be able to use the NHS app wherever Switzerland’s Covid certificate is required, free of charge. More information is available here

From Monday, October 11th, people coming to Switzerland from non-EU /EFTA countries — including from the United Kingdom — will have to pay to convert their evidence of vaccination to a Swiss Covid certificate.

Visitors can expect to pay 30 francs for this service.

Arrivals from the United States, India and several other countries can also expect to pay this fee. 

For those coming from EU/EFTA countries – or who have a Covid certificate/passport from one of these countries – they will not need to convert it when they arrive in Switzerland.

This is because EU/EFTA passes can be used throughout Switzerland wherever the Covid certificate is required and therefore does not need to be ‘converted’.

Also, unlike EU/EFTA arrivals, the countries of the United Kingdom are all considered high risk. 

This means that only people who have been vaccinated are allowed to enter Switzerland from the United Kingdom. 

Those who test negative or who have recovered from the virus recently will not be allowed to enter, unless they are Swiss citizens, residents or fit within another exception category. 

More information on that is available at the following link. 

UPDATE: Switzerland confirms only vaccinated Americans and Brits can enter

What does this mean for Swiss tourism?

Swiss tourism officials and ski resort operators are concerned that non-European tourists will be put off by the financial and logistical obstacles.

“These tourists are essential for ski resorts”, according to Markus Berger, spokesperson for Switzerland Tourism.

“With the 30-franc fee, we have a hurdle that other countries don’t have”, Berger said.

While neighbouring France and Germany also require certificate conversion, this procedure is free of charge there.

“The reason why this service is free in France is obvious”, Berger said, adding that the French “set it up and made it available very quickly, offering it free of charge as an active tourism promotion measure. Unfortunately, there is no such awareness in Switzerland”.

The tourism industry is lobbying federal authorities in Bern in an effort to rescind the 30-franc rule.

Exactly where the certificate will be needed on Switzerland’s slopes remains to be seen.

Specific information on how to get Switzerland’s Covid certificate for arrivals from all countries, including the United Kingdom, can be found at the following link.

Canton-by-canton: How visitors can get Switzerland’s Covid certificate

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Switzerland proposes travellers pay for Covid boosters

Under a new plan put forth by the Swiss government, anyone who needs a booster shot for travel abroad should pay for it out of pocket.

Switzerland proposes travellers pay for Covid boosters

While Covid shots were previously free for everyone in Switzerland, with the Swiss government picking up the tab, the country has been reluctant to issue a recommendation for a second booster.

As The Local reported on Monday, this means that many people’s most recent shot will soon be more than nine months ago, which is the date at which many Covid passes expire. 

READ MORE: What will Switzerland do about the ‘millions’ of expiring Covid certificates?

Although evidence of vaccination is not required domestically in Switzerland any more, it may pose issues in travel. 

Since many countries still require a vaccination certificate for entry, and as the second round of boosters is not yet available in Switzerland, this means that a large number of people may not be able to travel abroad.

Swiss health authorities: Travellers should pay for Covid boosters themselves

According to newest recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), people travelling abroad who need second booster doses must pay for the shots themselves.

As the fourth vaccine dose is currently recommended only for people with a severely weakened immune system, everyone outside of this group will be charged as yet undefined fee.

The proposal was sent to the cantons for consultation until June 1st.

If agreed on, the Federal Council will adjust the Epidemics Ordinance accordingly on June 10th.

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