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What are the rules for travel between Switzerland and France this autumn?

If you're planning a trip over the border this autumn, here is what you need to know on the current rules on travel and health passes in France and Switzerland.

The Alps between France and Switzerland
If you're crossing the Alps, here is what you need to know. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

What are the rules for entering Switzerland from France?

The rules for entry from France, as an EU/EFTA country, are more relaxed than those from so-called ‘third countries’, i.e. outside the bloc. 

People entering Switzerland from France who have been fully vaccinated in the past 12 months or who have contracted the virus and recovered in the past six months will be able to enter without further testing or restriction. 

‘Travelcheck’: This tool shows you what you need to enter Switzerland

People who have not been vaccinated or recovered will need to show evidence of a negative PCR test (not older than 72 hours) or a negative rapid antigen test (not older than 48 hours).

Once in Switzerland, you will need to take another test between four and seven days after entry. If the stay is less than four days, the second test is not necessary. 

Please keep in mind that if you are arriving from somewhere outside the EU/EFTA countries, you will not be allowed to enter Switzerland unless you are vaccinated against Covid. 

UPDATE: Switzerland confirms only vaccinated Americans and Brits can enter

All travellers – whether vaccinated, recovered or with a negative test – must also complete the passenger locator form before entering Switzerland.

“This will enable the cantons to carry out random checks to determine whether people who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered and who entered the country with a test have actually taken the second test after four to seven days”, the Federal Council said.

Whoever violates these rules could incur a fine of 200 francs for entry without a test certificate and 100 francs for an incomplete form.

READ MORE: Here is the form you need to enter Switzerland

What about Switzerland’s Covid certificate? 

Since mid-September, anyone visiting a bar, restaurant, event or other location needs to show a valid Covid certificate, which is the name given to Switzerland’s Covid health pass. 

This certificate is not required to enter Switzerland – however it may make things a little easier. 

Issuing Covid certificates is up to health authorities in every canton. The process is similar in each one.

Fortunately, any EU-issued Covid passes – including France’s health pass – are accepted in Switzerland, meaning you will not need to get the Swiss Covid certificate to visit bars, etc. 

More information is available at the following link. 

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

Entering France from Switzerland

France’s traffic light travel system classes all EU and Schengen zone countries (such as Switzerland) as green.

This means that if you are fully vaccinated you just need to show proof of vaccination at the border.

If you’re not vaccinated, you will need a negative Covid test (PCR or antigen) taken within the previous 72 hours.

All arrivals into France also need to complete a declaration stating that they are free of Covid symptoms, in practice this is not often checked, but to avoid possible delays at the border you can find the form HERE.

Once you are in France no further checks or tests are required, even for unvaccinated arrivals.

And the French health pass?

You will, however, need the French pass sanitaire (health pass) to enter a wide range of venues including bars, restaurants, tourist sites, leisure centres and for long-distance train travel.

READ ALSO When and where you need the French health pass

If you were vaccinated in Switzerland than your Swiss QR code is compatible with the French TousAntiCovid app, which is used for the health pass. You can also show proof of vaccination on paper, as long as the certificate has the QR code on it.

The same is true for people vaccinated in any EU or Schengen country, but if you were vaccinated in a non-EU country than you will need to either obtain a French code or, if you were vaccinated in England, Wales or Scotland, upload your NHS pass to the French app.

If you’re not vaccinated you will need a Covid test every 72 hours in order to keep your health pass valid. Covid tests in France are easily accessible via pharmacies, but tourists and unvaccinated residents must pay for their tests.

Remember also that masks are compulsory in all indoor public spaces not covered by the health pass (such as shops) and on all public transport.

The French/Swiss border

Like all Schengen borders, the one between France and Switzerland is pretty relaxed when it comes to security checks.

If you’re flying the checks are stricter, but if you travel by car or train then it’s highly likely that your travel documents will not be checked at the border.

However just because checks are rare doesn’t mean that they never happen and if you’re at the border without the necessary documents you can and will be refused entry

Those who do not have the requisite documentation also face stiff fines.  

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

In the coming months, millions of Covid certificates are set to expire in Switzerland. What will the government do about it?

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

As certificates are valid for nine months after the second vaccine dose or a booster, “millions of Swiss Covid certificates will expire by autumn at the latest”, according to Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes.

As many Swiss received their most recent shot in late 2021, the nine-month period will soon be coming to an end. 

Although this is not a problem domestically as proof of vaccination is no longer required in Switzerland, it may pose issues for 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.

And while other countries have already started to administer second booster shots, Swiss health authorities are dragging their feet, not having even issued a recommendation for the fourth dose yet.

This worries some MPs, who are calling on the government to make second boosters available soonest possible.

“The past has shown that cantons are not always sufficiently prepared. Something like this mustn’t happen again”, said MP Fabian Molina, adding that anyone travelling abroad should be able to be re-vaccinated if they wish. 

Another deputy, Yvonne Feri, noted that the federal government and the cantons have to prepare to vaccinate again within a short period of time.

READ MORE: Reader question: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?