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Switzerland’s new testing rules: How much travelling abroad now costs

If you are planning a foreign trip in the coming weeks, be ready to pay higher costs than before when leaving and re-entering Switzerland.

These nasal swabs will add quite a bit of money to the cost of foreign travel. Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP
These nasal swabs will add quite a bit of money to the cost of foreign travel. Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP

Going abroad this holiday season will cost much more, but this time you can’t blame it only on the price of airline tickets (or another mode of transport if you are not flying).

Instead, additional expenses are due to the new testing requirements that Switzerland and many other countries have put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus, and its newest variant, Omicron, as the epidemiological situation is deteriorating in many parts of Europe and the world.

For instance, on December 4th, Switzerland scrapped the ten-day quarantine requirement in favour of a testing scheme

Under the new rules, everyone arriving in Switzerland must show a negative PCR test and then take another PCR or antigen test taken four to seven days later. 

This requirement applies to tourists as well as Swiss citizens and permanent residents, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.

READ MORE: What are Switzerland’s Covid test requirements?

This is a costly undertaking, according to calculations done by Switzerland’s Watson news platform.

Prices of tests vary throughout Switzerland, but a PCR test for people without symptoms costs around 180 francs and a rapid  antigen test about 50 francs.

Because one negative test is needed by most countries to enter, and two tests are now required to return to Switzerland, you have to add, at the very least, 230 francs to the price of your ticket, per person.

Again, depending on the cost of testing in a foreign country and in your Swiss canton, it could add up to more than that.

This means that if a family of two adults and two children over the age of two for travel to the United States, age 11 for the UK and 16 for most other countries, is going abroad, the cost of tests will add up to 920 francs, which may well be (depending on your destination) more than economy class tickets.

These links provide more information about what tests are needed for entry to the UK and the US, so you can calculate ahead of time their costs, in addition to the price of tests needed to re-enter Switzerland.

KEY POINTS: What are the new Covid travel rules between Switzerland and the UK?

Travellers from Europe to US face tougher Covid test restrictions

Member comments

  1. This also does not take into account the cost of obtaining a Swiss COVID Certificate, which will be needed to enter most bars, restaurants, and other public spaces. It can be presented as a printed PDF document which contains a QR code, or via an app on your phone. I obtained one online from the US recently, and it cost me 30 CHF (about 32 US Dollars). Response time was very quick (<24 hours). Applicants must provide a copy of their valid entry document (e.g. passport/visa), proof of your entry plans into Switzerland (e.g. flight or train reservation), and a copy of your vaccination record (e.g. CDC card for US residents).

    1. Thanks Chris C,

      That’s right, for people from the US or other countries which don’t have a vaccination pass Switzerland recognises, a Covid certificate will cost CHF30.

      This wasn’t mentioned above as this article is about Swiss residents heading abroad (who therefore probably already have a Covid certificate), but more information on this and how to get it is in the following report:


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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.