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NEW: The latest travel rules between Switzerland and the USA

Vaccines and tests are required for US-bound travellers
American dream: Vacations in the USA are finally possible for residents on Switzerland. Photo by Frank Mckenna on Unsplash
After more than 18 months of travel restrictions, America has finally opened its borders to foreign tourists. This is what you should know about travelling to the US from Switzerland.

Just in time for Christmas in New York or beach holidays in Florida, the United States is open to international arrivals from November 8th.

However, before you book your ticket and pack a suitcase, familiarise yourself with all the entry rules that are in place for foreign tourists.

Proof of vaccination and Covid test

Unlike most countries in Europe, which require either vaccination or negative Covid test to enter, the US requires both.

“Fully vaccinated travelers will continue to be required to show a pre-departure negative test taken within three (3) days of travel to the United States prior to boarding”, the US Embassy in Switzerland says on its website.

READ MORE: UPDATE: US to lift travel ban for vaccinated Europeans on November 8th

The US defines as “fully vaccinated” those who were inoculated at least 14 days prior to travel with a WHO-approved vaccine — that is, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca.

While the US does not give mixed-dose vaccines (for instance, first shot Moderna and the second one Pfizer), but it will accept tourists who had been administered mixed doses.

However it will not accept a single vaccine dose after recovery from Covid, as is standard practice in Switzerland.

US citizens, permanent residents and those travelling to the US on an immigrant visa are not required to show proof of vaccination, only the negative Covid test.

Full requirements can be found here.

Tests

All travellers over the age of two – US citizens included – must show a negative Covid test before boarding. 

If you are fully vaccinated, the test must be taken within 72 hours of travel, while non-vaccinated people must show a test taken within 24 hours of travel.

This could be either an antigen or PCR test.

What kind of proof of vaccinations is accepted?

It must be issued by an official source, such as a public health agency, which administers vaccinations or oversees the immunisation process, according to the he Embassy (which bases its guidelines on rules issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — CDC).

Official Covid certificates issued in Switzerland will be recognised by US authorities as proof of vaccination.

Swiss certificates are valid proof of vaccination to enter the USA: Image: Federal Office of Public Health

However, the United States doesn’t use certificates the way European nations do — for instance, to access indoor venues — so it is unlikely you will be asked to show yours when inside the country.

What else do you need to enter the USA?

Aside from a valid biometric passport, there is one important document that you must print, fill out and sign, as without it you will not be allowed to board the plane.

Called the ‘Passenger Disclosure and Attestation to the United States of America”, this CDC form is easy to miss, as it is often buried among other travel-related information airlines send to passengers as part of an email that comprises booking details, baggage allowance, and mask requirement.

Only the most attentive passenger will notice a link called “Stricter regulations on entering the USA”, which compiles various rules, including this form.

READ MORE: Switzerland-United States travel: The crucial document you might not know about

What airlines are flying to the United States?

Flights between Swiss and US airports didn’t cease to operate during the border closures, as American citizens and permanent residents were allowed to travel to the United States throughout the pandemic. This mostly concerned Americans living abroad, who had to go to the United States for essential reasons.

However, there were only few flights connecting Switzerland to the United States.

The service between the two countries picked up somewhat when Switzerland (and European Union) opened its borders to vaccinated American tourists from June 26th.

Now flying across the big pond will get even easier.

To respond to what travel officials expect to be a growing demand for US-bound flights, United Airlines started flying nonstop between Newark and Geneva on November 1st, and SWISS will operate up to four direct flights a week to JKF in New York from December 14th.

Direct flights between Zurich and the two US airports will also resume in November.

Other airlines will also expand their service between the US airports and the two Swiss hubs.

You can see here which US-bound flights are planned.


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