Customs and immigration if arriving from London?

Customs and immigration if arriving from London?

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steve1956
steve1956
6 posts
new member
Jun 23, 2016 - 2:46 AM

If I will be arriving into Zurich airport from London will I need to go through customs/immigration in Zurich? If so, how long will it take? Would I need to go through customs/immigration if I arrived from Italy instead? Would I need to go through it when I leave and go to Paris?

Linda

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Jun 23, 2016 - 7:49 AM in reply to steve1956

Hi Linda-

As far as i know, those are all Schengen countries ( they have subscribed to the Schengen Treaty on the Free Movement of Peoples), and have minimal or no cross-border controls with other Schengen countries.

What passport do you carry?

You should not have to go through passport control, because the theory is that when you entered the Schengen region, the first country that you enter will check your passport. From then on, it does not need to be checked. There is occasionally some selectivity... you might be faster from London than from Italy. If your passport is checked, it will take no more than 5 minutes. With my US passport, it takes about the same time, when I come in from the USA. Maybe 10 minutes, if there are a lot of flights coming in, but that is unusual. If I come in from a Schengen country, usually, but not always, my passport is not checked coming into Switzerland.

After I have my luggage, which I put on a free cart in the arrivals hall where the luggage carousels are, I walk a few hundred feet and go through the "green" door ("nothing to declare"). (There is a signboard somewhere near there listing what you have to declare. I never have had any of the items...don't bring a lot of alcoholic beverages.) I walk past a few customs agents, who are standing to one side of the stream of people. I have never been stopped. Occasionally they see someone that catches their eye, and I'll see someone selected for more inspection with their luggage open on a table, being looked at.

You will find Zürich a reasonably fast airport. I have gotten off a plane from Amsterdam and also from Paris, and picked up my luggage and caught a train 25 minutes after landing. That includes buying a ticket from one of the ticket machines. The train station is just across the covered roadway from the airport terminal, and down some escalators. The luggage carts ride the escalators. It is not always that fast. ;-)

Longer if I have stop to get a Half-Fare card for a grandson, or negotiate a complex ticket at the "Travel Bureau" next to the ticket windows. Longer if you are not familiar with the routines.

If you go to Luzern, you will find two trains per hour, taking about 1 hour, one of which requires a change at Zürich Main Station. The ones at xx47 are direct.

If you miss the connection at Zürich, there will be plenty of other trains.

See attached:

Slowpoke

PS-

At one point you mentioned wanting to see a Swiss "village." Is that still on your list?

Last modified on Jun 23, 2016 - 7:54 AM by Slowpoke
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Arno
Arno
7728 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 23, 2016 - 8:16 AM

Just to be sure: the UK is not part of the Schengen area. As of today, it may leave the EU also, if the voters decide so.

steve1956
steve1956
6 posts
new member
Jun 23, 2016 - 8:21 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Looks like Lucern would be the Swiss village we visit. I was wanting something easy to get to from Italy since we only have two nights. Something that felt like we were in Switzerland and the Alps. Do you suggest something else?

Linda

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Jun 23, 2016 - 2:27 PM in reply to Arno

<<"Just to be sure: the UK is not part of the Schengen area. As of today, it may leave the EU also, if the voters decide so.">>

Thanks, Arno.

In that case, I guess that Linda should add add 5-10 minutes.

When you come into Switzerland (from the Netherlands, I recall) , do you have to go through Pass Control at Zürich?

An, with the Swiss facing a tough decision on their border controls, as a result of the referendum a few years ago, we might see some changes at Zürich in a few years.

Slowpoke

Arno
Arno
7728 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 23, 2016 - 2:40 PM in reply to Slowpoke

The Netherlands and Switzerland are both part of Schengen, but Switzerland is not an EU-member, so I guess they could check passports. When crossing the border by train they usually don't check everyone.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Jun 23, 2016 - 2:56 PM in reply to steve1956

Hi Linda-

I don't recall whether you had locked in your travel plans during the discussions in your other thread. I any case, they might still be in flux.

For the border crossings, which passport you carry can make a difference. Which passport do you carry?

For your interests in a village,

Exactly where in Italy would you be coming from? Or, are you still considering the "Swiss Village" before you go to Italy? Train Service from Milano Centrale to Luzern and Zürich is frequent and fast.

But, if you are starting from Rome or Venice, you might want to put a flight back in the picture, depending very much how you want to trade off your time between traveling the absolutely wonderfully scenic Gotthard Pass raol route, another rail route, for example by way of Brig, getting to a village that requires more travel time, or flying.

The normal answer to your question for me is "Wengen."

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/tips-about-wengen-and-the-jungfrau-region-by-kim

That assumes adequate travel time available, and the ability to stay there long enough to wait out cloudy weather. Two available days, for example.

You have set up a very tight schedule, so the Bernese Oberland ( Wengen, for example) may not work.

How early do you plan to arrive in Switzerland on your arrival day? When must you depart your Swiss Village on departure day?

Luzern is a an obvious pick to visit if you were coming in to Zürich. But, it is just not a village. Luzern is qucikly accessible from Zürich, has good train service from Milano Centrale, and has the advantage of a good combination of scenic beauty, nearby mountains of different "flavors" , including he Uri Alps, what I consider the most beautiful large lake in Switzerland, good wet weather options, etc.

Interlaken, the transfer point in and out of the Bernese Oberland, has good rail service but is a bit further from the airports, takes bit more time to get there from Zürich, not so much scenery of its own, and the near requirement of further travel to the villages south of there, to get the "Swiss Village in the Alps"

Those "Swiss vilages in the Alps- Wengen, Mürren, Lauterbrunnen, and the more commercial Grindelwald all require more train travel south from Interlaken, so you trade off that time for the appeal of the villages.

Some of the nicest villages in Switzerland require more travel time, and might not be in the Alps.

Maybe if you could help me remember what you want to trade off...village or not, Alps or not, easy train access or not, time available on site at the "village" versus need to get form previous site and to the next site, it would help us come up with more options for villages.

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Jun 23, 2016 - 3:53 PM in reply to Arno

Hi Arno-

i asked a friend in Geneva, who travels widely on business and pleasure. His sons have both spent time during their secondary school education in the past few years in various Schengen ( and EU) countries.

Here is his reply to me:

<<"Yes, Switzerland is a member of the Schengen area. Passport controls have generally been phased out, but may randomly be carried out. The rule is, if you are entitled to be in one Schengen country, you are entitled to be in all of them. If required, a visa is valid in the entire Schengen area. Schengen is a small resort in Luxembourg where the conference initiating the process was held.">>

Slowpoke

Arno
Arno
7728 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 23, 2016 - 5:08 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Great, thanks! And there's a bit of history too :-)

steve1956
steve1956
6 posts
new member
Jun 23, 2016 - 6:18 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Thanks for your information. Here is what we are considering: We just decided to replace visiting Rome with visiting Switzerland since we will be so close. I do want to be sure we have enough time to at least feel like we were there so I don't want to spend a lot of time traveling. We have two itinerary choices:

1.USA to London and stay three nights then go to Lucerne by plane to Zurich and then train to Lucerne. Then Lucerne to Florence by train to Zurich and then plane to Florence. Then we will be visiting other parts of Italy: Bologna, Cinque Terre, Cortona, Venice and then fly Venice to Paris and stay three nights and then fly to USA.

2. USA to London for three nights, fly to Italy and visit places mentioned above then go from Venice to Lucerne by plane and train. Then take train Lucerne to Paris.

I will only have two nights to spend in Switzerland so want to get there early enough because we will need to leave early. So really only about 1 1/2 days in Switzerland. Do you think it will be worth the trip?: Do you recommend someplace else? Still trying to work this out so all help is appreciated.

Linda

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Jun 23, 2016 - 8:41 PM in reply to steve1956

Hi Linda-

That answer is complex and long. I just wrote it, but it disappeared when I posted it.

Having worked it out by writing it, I can propably reproduce it in as hort note, which I shall attempt later.

My short answer, based on what I have read from you. and my impression of your planning process -

Skip London, skip Switzerland, and allow extra time at your destinations in Italy. Precision planning works in Switzerland; leave room for flexibility in Italy.

My opinion.

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Jun 24, 2016 - 1:36 AM in reply to Arno

More on Schengen and changing border controlls -

www.bbc.com/news/world -europe-13194723

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Jun 24, 2016 - 8:54 AM in reply to steve1956

Hi Linda-

<<"I will only have two nights to spend in Switzerland so want to get there early enough because we will need to leave early. So really only about 1 1/2 days in Switzerland. Do you think it will be worth the trip?: Do you recommend someplace else?">>

We are dealing with personal preferences, and to answer your question requires an understanding of your objectives and desired activities on your trip as well as my own attitudes about your trip if I had the opportunity to take it.

Earlier quote:

<<"We will be starting our trip in London. We can then go to Lucerne if that is easiest. In Italy we will be going to Bologna, Venice, Monterosso and Cortona with a short stop in Florence. So we can leave from any of those places to get to Lucerne too. Also, we can leave Lucerne and go to any of those places in Italy too or even go to Paris where are last place to visit will be. So for now I am pretty open and want to make the itinerary choices based on the best way to get to Lucerne. So really to and from Lucerne from any of the places listed above.">>

The earlier question, regarding your reasons for /interest in visiting Switzerland/Swiss town or village, which does not seem to have been answered:

<<"Once you are there, are there any specific things that you would like to do....such as hiking? Local scenic train rides? Any specific kinds of sightseeing? Any particular type of lodging?">>

I'll try to answer based on my own biases and my own limited experiences in Italy, my extensive knowledge of Switzerland, plus my best guess about your hopes for your trip. Note the word "biases."

Italy -

I/we have traveled a bit in Italy. Total of about 2-3 weeks on our own in the Alto Adige(Bolzano, Merano), Tuscany to various towns near and including Sienna, Florence, Umbria (Perugia and Gubbio) .

Many business trips, usually with a short bit of sightseeing accompanied by a knowledgeable local. In Milano (many trips), Rome ( a few), many to Termoli, which is on the Adriatic about 30 miles north of Vieste ( our manufacturing operation was there), Ferrara, Bologna, an overnight visit with a long car ride both ways to a customer way east of Torino in a town whose name I cannot remember, and a few others.

Switzerland -

Over 80 visits, all of several days to 3 weeks or even longer. A bit less than half based near Geneva, where I had some management responsibilities, and which included weekends and "post trip" travel in Switzerland, as well as visits to customers throughout Europe, and a bit more than half of the trips to Switzerland on personal visits in all regions.

Switzerland is well organized, beautiful beyond belief, a dream for landscape photographers, welcomes travelers in a professional and friendly fashion in English and in the official national languages of German, French, Italian and several other other languages...the extremely effective and timely train system's staff all are required to speak English...can definitely be expensive, but somewhat less so outside the main cities. Has a country wide hiking network of well marked trails of all ranges of difficulty from easy to technical climbing, with good maps, and we have walked or hiked many miles on these "Wanderwege." Swiss cities have true "Old Cities" that were spared the WWII destruction that makes all the "Old Cities" in Germany actually "New Copies Built in the 1950's."

Pockets of history from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and onward. (The Abbey Church and Library at St. Gallen.)

With some care in selection, some little known but excellent , red wines and good ( but not "big" California style) whites. A tradition of culinary excellence at famous (within Switzerland) inns in the countryside, a dying breed. A cuisine that includes French, Italian and German elements.

Some extremely high quality art museums, often built out from private collections. For example, one of the best collections of Klee's in the world, chronologically organized along with Picasso's and others is at the Rosengart Collection in Luzern. 3 minutes from the main station.

Italy-

Warm and friendly, full of history, architectural wonders, civilized for centuries while Switzerland was wilderness and was one of the colonies inhabited by warring tribes, wonderful food and wines, lots of history. Did I mention history? Some wonderful landscapes. A much bigger country than tiny Switzerland.

The substitute for a well managed and timely train system is that the schedule display monitors in the stations usually have an extra column, in addition to destination, departure time, etc. The added column is one that shows how late the train will be.

Many of the staff speak English, after a fashion. My only other language, German, has not been useful.

A short hike with the best maps I could find, near our B&B in Torii, south of Sienna, got us lost within a mile or so. I needed my compass and some guess work to figure out where we were, and on our way back to base, we found the barely noticeable unmarked turn we should have taken.

Florence in September - the streets were crowded with people speaking American English. A wonderful, beautiful historical town. The Uffizi contains powerful, historical artistic treasures beyond comprehension. (By the way, book ahead for the Uffizi, and check Rick Steve's book for a 3 hour tour that lets you see the high points and major works before museum fatigue sets in. Steve's and I approach travel differently, but in this case, his advice was invaluable.). We always had good food in Florence, but never found superlative there food, for some unknown reason. Odd.

In Italy, relax, take it easy, be flexible, and expect that your plans will be altered, often for the better. Expect that you will not travel on time, and be pleased when it happens on time...which it often does.

Switzerland -- expect to plan travel with precision, and that your plans will work. Your mention of a quick side trip to Luzern is completely possible in Switzerland, and you can be sure that all of the transportation will work as scheduled. Well, maybe busy trains to Zürich and the airport may sometimes be 5 minutes late in the morning rush hour....a matter of no small concern to the Swiss, I might add.

Personally, I would not attempt that in Italy.

So, as you might guess, if I were planning the trip, I'd cut out some time in Italy, and add time in Switzerland. But, I'd guess from your description of your proposed itinerary that you have definite and well chosen plans and reasons for visiting for the Italian cites that you have mentioned. You clearly want to see Italy.

So, trying to put myself in your shoes, I'd cut out time in all of the other places, skip London, skip Switzerland, add the time to your existing destinations in Italy, and be flexible.

Then, I'd make sure to visit Switzerland the next time, and dig in for a couple of weeks with one or two bases. One would be Luzern.

Also, a final impression which may be off base. If so, I apologize if I misunderstand your approach. In the USA, we travel by airplane or car. Train travel is a bit unusual. In my view, your plans reflect that approach.

In Switzerland especially, but also in much of western Europe, train travel is common and can be a pleasure. Until the advent of discount airlines, it was also cheaper than air travel, and it gets you directly to the centers of the cities. If you fly into Malpensa to get to Milano, you'll recognize instantly why train travel is so much more convenient. (Switzerland has made a major and expensive effort to connect the major airports to the city centers by good frequent fast train service. That is also common in other countries, but the Swiss system is quite good.)

Switzerland adds the benefit that the scenic train rides, possibly including the ones with the fancy names, are an integral and enriching part of the travel experience. Taking a train to Zermatt from Wengen, using the old route via Kandersteg offers wonderful views that you cannot even begin to approach by automobile, and can only otherwise achieve on foot, in mountainous terrain. The route over the Gotthard Pass is an engineering marvel and very scenic.

For what it is worth, that is my opinion. Admittedly biased, and probably insufficiently appreciative of Italy. Different strokes.....

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2659 posts
expert
Jun 25, 2016 - 1:53 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Should have said "way WEST of Torino." Practically in France.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jun 25, 2016 - 1:53 AM by Slowpoke

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