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All you need to know about Swiss visa and entry rules

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Must knows about visas and entry rules for Switzerland

  • Citizens of EU and Schengen states don’t need a visa for Switzerland. Travelers from some other so-called 'third countries' do need a visa.
  • From November 2023, travelers from visa-free third countries need to apply online for an ETIAS: a digital travel authorisation for entry into Schengen countries.
  • Apart from visa and ETIAS, there are additional entry requirements (such as a valid passport or ID card) for all tourists entering Switzerland.
Swiss visa and passport

 All travelers need a valid passport or ID when entering Switzerland. Some also need a visa.

Swiss travel visas and entry rules: summary

  • All tourists entering Switzerland need to carry an official travel document, such as a valid passport or ID card.
  • Tourists from non-EU and non-Schengen countries (so-called 'third countries') can be asked questions about their stay in Switzerland by Swiss border officials. Travelers may need to provide proof of their travel plans, accommodation and financial means.
  • In addition, tourists from some third countries need a visa. A visa is a travel document. There are several visa types. For tourists, only the type-C visa is relevant. It’s also called ‘Schengen visa’ and allows a stay in Switzerland and other Schengen countries for a maximum of 90 days within a period of 180 days.
  • From November 2023, tourists from visa-free third countries need to apply for an ETIAS before traveling to Switzerland. This is a digital travel authorisation process for Schengen countries, that screens travelers for safety reasons. It's quicker and cheaper than a visa application.

Find all details about entry requirements for your country, the Swiss visa application process and the ETIAS below.

Do I need a visa to enter Switzerland?

  • Citizens of the EU and Schengen countries, plus citizens of many third countries, can enter Switzerland without a visa.
  • Citizens of other third countries do need a visa to enter Switzerland and other Schengen countries.

Examples of third-countries from which travelers do not require a visa for Switzerland:

  • Australia and New-Zealand
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Examples of third-countries from which travelers do require a visa for Switzerland:

  • China
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Africa
  • Thailand

Exceptions for visa-requiring citizens

If you need a visa for Switzerland, there can be an exception if you:

  • already have a type-D visa issued by a Schengen state, valid for the period in which you’ll visit Switzerland.
  • have a residence permit for EU or Schengen countries.

Details for your home country

Check which rules apply to your country:

Do I need a visa if I make an airport transit in Switzerland?

An airport transit visa, also called ‘type A’ visa, is mostly not required. It only applies if you transit from one non-Schengen country to another non-Schengen country, via an airport in the Schengen area (for example Switzerland).

This airport transit visa is required if you’re a national from Afghanistan, Iraq, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Congo, Pakistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Iran, Syria ,Turkey or Cuba. If you already have a travel visa issued by a Schengen state, you don’t need an additional airport transit visa.

If you have another nationality, you don’t need an airport transit visa, provided that you:

  • have a valid travel document;
  • don’t leave the transit area, not even for an overnight stay;
  • have the travel documents and visa required for your destination country;
  • have an airline ticket for the journey to your destination and if you’ve booked this journey prior to arrival at the Swiss airport.

Which Swiss visa types exist?

These are the main visas for Switzerland.

Type C: Schengen visa

This is also called a short-stay visa, travel visa or tourist visa. You can use it in Switzerland and other Schengen countries for a maximum of 90 days. This is often the only visa that’s relevant for tourist trips to Switzerland. There are sub types:

  • multiple-entry visa, allowing you to enter and leave the Schengen area as often as you want;
  • single-entry visa, allowing 1 entry to the Schengen area and expiring once you leave;
  • double-entry visa, allowing 2 entries to the Schengen area and expiring once you leave for the second time.

Type A: Airport transit visa

This is required for tourists from a few countries only, if they make an airport transit in a Schengen country such as Switzerland.

Type D: Residence permit

You need this visa if you plan to stay longer than 90 days. It’s valid in Switzerland only.

Other Swiss visas

Other Swiss visas include:

  • work permits;
  • student permits;
  • medical permits for a health treatment in Switzerland;
  • culture-, sports- and events-related permits.

How much does a Swiss travel visa cost?

Prices for the type C/Schengen visa are fixed for the entire Schengen area. The fees are:

  • EUR 80 per adult
  • EUR 40 per child from 6 to 12 years old
  • EUR 35 per adult for citizens of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kosovo and Russia
  • EUR 120 per adult for citizens of Gambia
  • free for:
    • children younger than 6 years old
    • family members of an EU/EEA national
    • pupils, students and accompanying teachers during a school trip

How long is my tourist visa valid?

Duration of a Schengen visa

The duration of a type C/Schengen visa is:

  • For a multiple-entry visa: 90 days (in which you can enter and leave the Schengen area as often as you like) within a period of 180 days.
  • For a single-entry visa: from your first to your last day in the Schengen area, with a maximum of 90 days within a period of 180 days.
  • For a double-entry visa: from the first day of your first visit to the Schengen area to the last day of your second visit to the Schengen area, with a maximum of 90 days within a period of 180 days.

Use the Schengen visa calculator to check how many days you have left on your visa.

In some cases, Schengen visas with longer validity can be issued. You’ll have to prove that you need to travel to the Schengen area frequently.

Extending your travel visa

You normally can’t extend a Schengen travel visa. This is only possible if you can prove that you need to stay in the Schengen area. Contact the immigration authorities of the Swiss canton you’re staying in for details.

Duration of an airport transit visit

The validity of a type A/airport transit visa is 24 hours.

Where is my visa valid?

A type C/Schengen visa is valid in all 27 Schengen countries.

A type A/airport transit visa is valid in the international transit area of a Schengen airport.

How long does it take to receive my visa, and when should I apply?

The processing time for a Schengen travel visa is about 2 weeks/15 days. You’ll usually receive your visa within that period. But in some cases it takes longer: up to 30 or even 60 days.

You can mostly apply no earlier than 6 months before your planned entry in Switzerland or another Schengen country. Our advice is to apply between 6 and 2 months before departure.

Where and how to apply for my visa?

What’s the application process?

If Switzerland is the Schengen country in which you’ll spend most of your stay, this is how to get your travel visa in short:

  1. Fill out a Swiss application form.

  2. File this to the Swiss representation in your country, along with the required documents.

  3. Schedule an interview at the embassy in your country, either online or in person.

How can I start my application?

Depending on your country, one or more of these application options apply:

  • Fill out an online application form via the Swiss application platform.
  • Download and print an application form, and fill it out by hand.
  • Apply directly at the Swiss representation in your home country. Find addresses at www.eda.admin.ch. Pick “Travel advice and representations” from the top menu and then “Select country”.
  • Apply online via an external visa service provider.

Check which application options are available for you at www.swiss-visa.ch.

Can I arrange for my visa upon arrival in Switzerland?

You can’t apply for your visa when you arrive in Switzerland. You can only get a visa at the border or airport in very exceptional cases. You’ll have to prove that you weren’t able to get it before entering, due to time constraint and unavoidable circumstances.

If a visa is granted in such cases, it has limited validity.

What are the requirements for a Swiss travel visa?

Questions on the visa application form

This is the information you need to fill out on the Swiss visa application form:

  • basic personal details: your name, date and place of birth, nationality, sex and civil status. Such data must match the information in your passport or other travel document.
  • details about your passport or your other travel document: its type, the date of issue, the date until which it’s valid and the authorities by which it’s issued;
  • your professional occupation;
  • details about your travel plans. You’ll have to mention the purpose(s) of your trip to Switzerland and the amount of entries you require in the Schengen area. You must also fill out the dates of entering and departing from the Schengen area.
  • addresses of hotels and holiday homes, or information about the persons or companies that invited you;
  • the way(s) in which you’ll pay for your stay (cash, cheques, credit card, prepaid accommodation, et cetera);
  • your signature.

Document checklist for a Swiss visa application

These are the documents you often need for your visa application:

  • a filled out visa application form;
  • your passport or other travel document;
  • biometric data, such as 1 or 2 recent passport-size pictures;
  • visa that have been issued to you previously;
  • a cover letter explaining the purpose of your visit. If you make a tourist trip, you can describe your travel plan in this letter.
  • a travel health insurance policy;
  • plane, train or bus reservations for your trips to and from Switzerland;
  • proof of accommodation, such as hotel reservations, or an invitation by a Swiss host;
  • proof of your financial status, such as salary slips, bank account statements, or your business registration certificate.

For an airport transit visa, you need these additional documents:

  • a visa (if required) for the country of destination;
  • a flight ticket to the country of destination.

Questions asked during a visa interview

When filing your application, you’ll have an appointment at the Swiss representation in your home country. This can happen in person or online. Biometrical data can be collected. You’ll also have an interview. This helps to establish if you qualify for a visa.

You can expect questions about the information on your application form and the required documents. Personal questions can be asked too, for example about:

  • your marital status;
  • your family situation;
  • the person(s) you’ll be traveling with;
  • your work or student activities, your educational qualification and your future ambitions;
  • your financial status;
  • the reason(s) for your intended trip;
  • other details of your trip, such as the locations in which you’ll be staying;
  • your knowledge of the country or countries you plan to visit;
  • your previous travels.

Differences per country

The exact requirements can differ per country. Check details for your country at www.eda.admin.ch

What does my travel visa look like and what information does it contain?

What does my travel visa look like?

Your Schengen visa is a sticker in your passport. It’s in English, French or German.

What information does the Schengen visa sticker contain?

Your Schengen visa sticker shows these data:

  • the states in which you can enter. For a regular tourist visa, the sticker will mention ‘Schengen states’, meaning you can travel in all Schengen countries. In exceptional cases, visas are issued for only one country or a few countries. In that case the acronyms of these countries are mentioned. ‘CH’ (Confoederatio Helvetica) stands for Switzerland.
  • the start and end date of your visa validity;
  • the number of entries you can make into the Schengen area. The sticker mentions the exact number of allowed entries, or “MULT”. This means you can enter and leave the Schengen area as often as you want within the validity period.
  • a letter indicating the visa type;
  • personal information, such as your passport number and name.

Is there an electronic or digital travel visa?

A Schengen visa is not available in electronic or digital format. This may change in the future.

The ETIAS is fully digital, but that’s something different.

I’ll be visiting multiple Schengen countries. For which country should I apply?

Apply for your Schengen visa for the country in which you’ll be spending most days.

If you’ll spend an equal amount of days in several Schengen countries, then apply for the country in which you’ll first enter the Schengen area.

Which requirements apply to entering Switzerland, other than a travel visa?

Apart from visa requirements, everyone needs a valid passport or ID when entering Switzerland. Travelers from third countries, with or without visa, can be asked for proof of their travel plans in Switzerland.

All travelers: valid travel documents

All travelers must be able to show a valid travel document when entering Switzerland. Examples are passports, emergency or temporary passports, ID cards and travel documents for children.

For third-country travelers, the travel document must meet these requirements:

  • It’s issued no longer than 10 years before entering the Schengen area.
  • It’s valid at least 3 months after departure from the Schengen area.

Check which travel documents from your country are recognized:

  • Recognized travel documents from EU and Schengen countries: ec.europa.eu
  • Recognized travel documents from other countries: ec.europa.eu

Travelers from third countries: proof of your plans in Switzerland

If you’re a third-country national, with or without visa, you can be questioned at the Swiss border or airport. You must be able to demonstrate the purpose of your visit, the Swiss locations of your stay and your financial resources.

We advise that you have the following documents:

  • a return plane, train or bus ticket from and to your home country, that’s valid within 90 days upon arrival. Or show a ticket for a journey to a country outside the Schengen area, valid within 90 days upon arrival. If a visa is required for the non-Schengen country you’ll be traveling to, you must be able to show this too.
  • if you’re staying in hotels or holiday homes: (a copy of) your reservation confirmations;
  • if you’re staying in a private household: (a copy of) the letter of invitation from your hosts;
  • proof of your ability to pay for your stay in Switzerland. Count on CHF 100 per day. You can show this with cash, traveller’s cheques, credit cards or bank guarantees.

From 2023: ETIAS for third-country citizens who don’t need a visa

In the future, third-country citizens who don’t require a visa will have to apply digitally for an ETIAS authorisation before entering a Schengen country. ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System.

ETIAS is meant to enhance safety in the Schengen area. The system will assess if a third-country citizen doesn't pose any threat to the Schengen countries. Your ETIAS authorisation can be checked by airline or cruise companies and by border officials.

You'll have to fill out personal details such as your name, surname, gender, nationality and e-mail address in an online form. The application must be paid by credit or debit card.

An application will probably cost CHF 7 per person and will probably be valid for 3 years. Switzerland is currently implementing this system. It’s scheduled to be operational by November 2023.

Temporary, exceptional situations

In exceptional cases, entry rules can be changed. Examples are:

  • the requirement of extra entry documents. An example is an entry form or passenger locator form in times of health crises, such as the COVID pandemic.
  • the requirement of proof of vaccination, or a health declaration;
  • a temporary suspension of visa applications.

Which travel documents are required for my children?

Children from Schengen countries need their own travel document. Children from non-Schengen citizens are allowed to travel on their parents’ travel document.

If you’re from a country for which a visa is required, you need visas for your children too.

Do I need to bring copies of my travel documents and visa?

It’s not obligatory to bring photocopies of your travel documents and (if required) your visa to Switzerland. But we advise that you do. If you lose a document, it will be easier to get a replacement document.

Where can I get help applying for my visa and other travel documents?

Use the official FDFA (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs) helpline if you have questions about your Swiss visa application or other entry requirements.

What if my application is rejected?

Costs for a Schengen travel visa are not refundable, not even in case of a rejection.

You can appeal within 30 days after receiving the refusal. This must be done in writing in German, French or Italian. The letter must be directed to the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

What if my visa expires before I enter or leave Switzerland?

If you can’t enter Switzerland before your visa expires, you’ll have to apply for a new visa. Contact the Swiss representation in your home country.

If you can’t leave Switzerland before your visa expires, for example due to a cancelled flight or other unexpected circumstances, contact the immigration authorities of the canton in which you’re staying. Do this as soon as possible. Being in Switzerland with an expired visa (also called 'overstaying') is punishable.

If you’re at an airport while your visa expires, contact the airport border authorities.

What if I lose my travel document or visa in Switzerland?

If you lose a travel document, such as your passport, contact the diplomatic or consular representation of your home country in Switzerland as soon as possible.

If you lose your visa, immediately contact the migration authorities of the Swiss canton you’re staying in.

It helps if you can present copies of your travel documents and/or visa. In most cases, you’ll be able to get a replacement travel document or visa.

Switzerland entry requirements for EU and Schengen citizens (stays of max. 90 days)

EU and Schengen citizens don’t need a visa to visit Switzerland. A valid travel document, such as a passport or ID, is sufficient. Temporary exceptions can apply.

Which countries belong to the EU, EFTA, Schengen and EEA?

The EU (European Union) consists of 27 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

The EFTA (European Free Trade Association) consists of 4 countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

The Schengen area consists of 23 EU countries and all 4 EFTA countries. Within this area, Schengen residents can travel without border controls. All 26 Schengen states are: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The EEA (European Economic Area) consists of all EU countries and 3 of the EFTA countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Switzerland is not an EEA member.

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