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COVID-19

Travel: What are Switzerland’s new entry requirements?

Despite tightening domestic Covid rules, Switzerland will relax testing and travel rules from Monday. Here's what you need to know.

A man wearing a protective face mask rides his bicycle past the entrance of Geneva Airport.
From Monday, travellers can show negative antigen or PCR tests to enter Switzerland. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Switzerland will tighten Covid measures amid a worsening situation in the country, the government announced on Friday afternoon.

The measures will apply from Monday, December 20th. 

Among the measures, which include stricter rules for bars and restaurants, nightclubs, discos and private events, is a relaxation of the current rules relating to arrivals in the country. 

From December 20th, the entry rules will be relaxed, whereby people only need to show one test on entry (either PCR or antigen).

The PCR test can be up to 72 hours old, the antigen test must be less than 24 hours old.

READ MORE: Switzerland announces new Covid measures

The current rules (i.e. before the announcement) mandated that a PCR test must be shown. 

The rule whereby arrivals must show another test 4-7 days after arriving will be relaxed for vaccinated and recovered people. 

If you have not been vaccinated or have not recovered from the virus, then you will need to complete an additional test between days four and seven after arriving. This can be either a PCR or antigen test. 

The measures are in place until at least January 24th, 2022, although as has been the case previously, they are subject to extension should the Covid situation warrant it. 

What are the exceptions?

There are several exceptions to the testing rule. People under the age of 16 do not need to be tested.

People who have recovered from the virus in the past month – and have proof – must have no symptoms and provide a negative antigen test. More info is available here

Arrivals who are transiting through Switzerland via air or land do not need to provide a test result.

The requirement applies to arrivals from all countries and applies regardless if you have Swiss citizenship, residency or if you do not.

People from border regions however will not need to comply. Border regions are defined as follows:

Germany: State of Baden-Württemberg and State of Bavaria.

France: Regions Grand-Est, Bourgogne / Franche Comté and Auvergne / Rhône-Alpes.

Italy: Piedmont, Aosta Valley, Lombardy and Trentino / South Tyrol regions.

Austria: Land Tirol and Land Vorarlberg.

Territories in Liechtenstein: entire Principality

Where can I get a test – and how much do they cost?

Fortunately, testing is common place in cities, towns and villages throughout Switzerland, while most airports and major transport hubs also have testing facilities.

Pharmacies, general practitioners and hospitals have testing facilities, while private facilities also exist across the country.

The tests can either be PCR or antigen (lateral flow) tests. Self tests are not sufficient.

Depending on the provider, PCR tests cost approximately CHF 110 (€100), or CHF 195 (€175) for rapid PCR tests.

Antigen tests cost approximately CHF 45 (€ 40).

The costs of all tests need to be covered by the travelling/arriving/returning person, regardless of citizenship status.

Official information is available from the Swiss government here. 

What happens if I arrive without a test? 

The Swiss government notes that you will be asked by airline providers for your PCR test before you board, so the chance you arrive without a test is unlikely. 

However, if you do arrive without a PCR test and are required to have one, you will be liable for a 200CHF fine. 

“The person must also be tested immediately after entering the country and inform the canton,” the government said in a statement

Therefore, not only will you have to pay the fine, but also for a PCR test in Switzerland, which is likely to be much more expensive than in your country of departure. 

Member comments

  1. Does the relaxation of the Day 4-7 test after arrival apply to people who arrived before 20 December? Or do they still have to take a test?

    1. Only people arriving from today are exempt, called the bag.ch helpline today to get official answer to this very question.

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TRAVEL NEWS

10 francs: Everything you need to know about Flixtrain’s Basel to Berlin line

In early May, German transport provider Flixtrain announced it would begin running services from Basel to Berlin (and back) from June. Here’s what you need to know.

10 francs: Everything you need to know about Flixtrain's Basel to Berlin line

German transport provider Flixtrain has announced it will launch in Switzerland from June 23rd. The low-cost provider is offering 10 franc (10 euro) tickets from Basel to Berlin, among other cheap fares.

The low-cost company, which has been establishing itself Deutsche Bahn’s major competitor Germany over the past few years, runs long distance bus and train services. 

When will the services run?

The lines to and from Basel run from Thursday to Monday, with one connection per day in either direction. 

It will take 8 hours and 45 minutes from Basel Badischer Bahnhof to Berlin Hauptbahnhof. 

A trip with the German ICE will instead take just over 7 hours. 

The new line is part of an expansion of services which is set to include around 70 destinations in Germany. 

OK but will it really cost CHF10?

The price of the ticket grabbed headlines, with Flixtrain saying in its press conference that the almost-nine-hour trip would only cost CHF10 (10 euro). 

Flixtrain spokesperson Sebastian Meyer told Swiss news outlet Watson that tickets would start at CHF10, but more expensive tickets would be available when the CHF10 offerings were sold out. 

“If the cheapest ticket contingent is sold out, the next higher one takes effect. In this way, we can always offer our passengers cheap tickets. Affordable prices are still possible due to the corresponding utilisation of the individual trips.”

In order to get the cheapest possible fare, travellers are advised to book early. 

REVEALED: How to find cheap train tickets in Switzerland

Tickets between Basel and Berlin can cost as high as CHF150 or 160 euros from Switzerland’s SBB or Germany’s Deutsche Bahn respectively, although booking in advance can bring the price down to as low as CHF30. 

Where will the train to (and from) Berlin stop?

In either direction, the train will stop at: Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden, Offenburg, Freiburg, Wiesloch, Bad Hersfeld and Weil am Rhein. 

What else is different about Flixtrain?

Other than being bright lime green, Flixtrains allow you to take your bicycle with you, which is not allowed on most ICE long-distance trains in Germany. 

Are there any other destinations within Switzerland? 

As yet, Basel will be the only Swiss destination. The other two new routes are Stuttgart to Hamburg and Berlin to Weisbaden. 

In addition to the 10 franc (10 euro) ticket from Basel to Berlin, other journeys within Germany will start at 5 francs (5 euros). 

More information is available from Flixtrain at the following link. 

The expanded routes can be seen in the following image. 

A look at Flixtrain’s route network in 2022. Map: Flixtrain

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