FAQ – Frequently asked questions

Please note that the general visa and entry procedure is described in detail in our information sheet:


1. General information on entry and visa procedures

If your flight is cancelled and you are unable to leave the Schengen area before your visa expires, please contact the immigration authorities in your canton of residence.

You can find the addresses here: 
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

If you are unable to take your connecting flight and find yourself stuck in international transit at an airport, please contact the airport border authorities.

If you are prevented from entering Switzerland or another country in the Schengen area and so cannot make use of your visa before it expires, then you will require a new visa. In this case, please contact a Swiss embassy/consulate.

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) cannot provide any information on this matter. Please contact the Swiss embassy responsible for the place in which the person applying for a visa lives: 
Swiss representations

You should find the information you require on the embassy or consulate website.

Swiss citizens have a right to enter Switzerland. All they have to do is to present a valid Swiss passport or ID card.

If you are unable to show a passport or ID card, you may enter Switzerland if you can prove or demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that you are a Swiss citizen. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) therefore recommends that Swiss citizens always carry at least one of the following documents:

  • a photocopy of a valid passport or ID card;
  • an expired travel document;
  • an official document showing their identity and/or citizenship (e.g. a driving licence).

EU and EEA citizens have to meet the following requirements in order to enter Switzerland:

  • they must present a valid ID card or passport
    (see list: Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality);
  • they must not be the subject of an alert issued in the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the purposes of refusing entry;
  • they must not pose a threat to public order, Swiss security, public health or the international relations of any of the Schengen states;
  • they must not be subject to an expulsion order or any measure banning them from entering Switzerland.

Family members of EU or EFTA citizens who themselves are citizens of a third country must meet the following requirements in order to enter Switzerland:

  • they must present a recognised travel document
    (see list: Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality) valid for at least three months after the intended date of departure from the Schengen area and issued within the previous 10 years (the date of issue only concerns entry into the Schengen area);
  • if necessary, they have a special residence permit from a country in the Schengen area or a visa
    (see List of residence permits issued by member states);
  • they must not be the subject of an alert issued in the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the purposes of refusing entry;
  • they must not pose a threat to Swiss security, public order, public health or the international relations of any of the Schengen states;
  • they must not be subject to an expulsion order or any measure banning them from entering Switzerland.

Regardless of their citizenship, the following are considered family members of EU or EFTA citizens:

  • spouses or registered partners of EU or EFTA citizens. The registered partnership status must be based on legislation that is in effect in the corresponding country of citizenship. This status must be established as legally equivalent to marital status in both the state of citizenship (EU/EFTA member state) and the host country;
  • direct relatives in the descending line of EU or EFTA citizens and of their spouses or registered partners, that are under the age of 21 or who are financially dependent;
  • direct relatives in the ascending line of EU or EFTA citizens and their spouses or registered partners who are financially dependent.

Third-country nationals (non-EU/EFTA) who require a visa must fulfil the following conditions in order to enter Switzerland:

  • they must have a valid C visa (Schengen visa), a valid D visa (national visa) or a valid residence permit issued by a Schengen state
    (List of residence permits issued by member states);
  • they must hold a recognised travel document issued within the previous 10 years (the date of issue only concerns entry into the Schengen area) and valid for at least three months after the intended date of departure from the Schengen area (for holders of a C visa) or until the date of departure (for holders of D visa and residence permits) and;
  • they must explain the purpose and conditions of their stay in Switzerland and/or in the Schengen state(s) they intend to visit;
  • they must have sufficient financial resources to cover the entire duration of the intended stay as well as the return trip to their country of origin or a transit trip to a third country, or they must be able to obtain the necessary financial resources by some other lawful means;
  • they must not be the subject of an alert issued in the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the purposes of refusing entry;
  • they must not pose a threat to Swiss security, public order, public health or the international relations of any of the Schengen states;
  • they must not be subject to an expulsion order or any measure banning them from entering Switzerland.

NB:
If you plan to enter the Schengen area via a country other than Switzerland you are advised to find out about the entry conditions applied from a consulate of that country.

Third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA) not subject to visa requirements must fulfil the following conditions in order to enter Switzerland for a stay of 90 days in any period of 180 days that does not involve gainful employment:

  • they must hold a recognised travel document valid for at least three months after the intended date of departure from the Schengen area and issued within the previous ten years (the date of issue concerns only entry into the Schengen area);
  • If they hold a 
    valid residence permit issued by a Schengen member state or a valid D visa (national visa), their travel document merely must be recognised and still valid at the time of entry and for the duration of the intended stay in Switzerland or in another Schengen state;
  • they must explain the purpose and conditions of their stay in Switzerland and/or in the Schengen state(s) they intend to visit;
  • they must have sufficient financial resources to cover the entire duration of the intended stay and for the return trip to their country of origin or for transit to a third country, or they must be able to obtain the necessary financial resources by some other lawful means;
  • they must not be the subject of an alert issued in the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the purposes of refusing entry;
  • they must not pose a threat to Swiss security, public order, public health or the international relations of any of the Schengen states;
  • they must not be subject to an expulsion order or any measure banning them from entering Switzerland.

In order to prove that they fulfil the conditions, we advise them to obtain the following documents:

  • a return ticket valid within 90 days upon arrival or a ticket for continuing their journey to a country outside the Schengen area valid within 90 days upon arrival together with the visa(s) required to enter the country or the countries of final destination;
  • if they are staying in a private household or with family members, a letter of invitation (no particular form is required, a copy is sufficient);
  • if they are staying in a hotel, a confirmation of the reservation (a copy is sufficient) ;
  • if they are on a business trip, a letter from the company that has invited them, confirming the dates of the stay (a copy is sufficient).

NB:
If you plan to enter the Schengen area via a country other than Switzerland you are advised to find out about the entry conditions applied from a consulate of that country.

Please check the visa requirements for your nationality as well as the special provisions irrespective of nationality under the following links:
List: Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality
List: ID and visa provisions: particularities regardless of nationality

A Schengen visa is valid for Switzerland and all other Schengen member states unless stated otherwise on the visa.

Holders are permitted to stay for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period.

For any further information please contact the Swiss embassy responsible for your place of residence: 
Swiss representations

A Type C visa is required for short-term stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period and destined for tourist purposes, such as visiting relatives or friends, participating in sports or cultural events, for business, or schooling and study. Type C visas are valid for the entire Schengen area, which is why they are commonly referred to as Schengen visas.

To apply for a Schengen visa, please complete the visa form found at
www.swiss-visa.ch or 
Schengen visa application.

Please note that people intending to enter Switzerland in order to pursue gainful employment are required to hold both a valid Schengen visa and a work permit.

For a stay of more than 90 days a Type D visa is required. This is a national visa, issued to people who wish to stay in Switzerland for a longer period; This type of stay – for work or studies in Switzerland, family reunification or lengthy medical treatment – needs to be authorised by the appropriate authorities in advance.

To apply for a Type D visa, please complete the visa form found at 
Type D visa application.

Once a Swiss representation accepts a Schengen visa application – the visa application, travel document, photograph and other relevant documents are submitted, fingerprints taken and the visa fee paid – the application is processed and a decision is generally taken within fifteen days. In exceptional circumstances, the period for processing an application may be extended up to 30 or 60 days.

Applications for a national visa (Type D visa) are dealt with by the cantons. The time the responsible authorities need to process such applications may vary according to canton and purpose of stay. For detailed information, please contact the competent immigration authorities: 
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

The cost of submitting an application is EUR 80 for adults and EUR 40 for children between 6 and 12 years old. This is a fixed charge for a Schengen visa. Some applicants may not be required to pay for their visa.

There may be an extra charge of up to 50% of the fee for a national visa (stay longer than 90 days) when the applicant asks for the visa to be issued urgently or outside of normal working hours or if the application processing procedure is unduly complex.

Under Swiss law, a humanitarian visa may be issued to a person who is under threat of bodily harm in their own country. People who are already staying in a third country are generally not considered at risk.

After receiving a visa application, the diplomatic representation first examines whether there are grounds for issuing a humanitarian visa. In case of doubt, applications may be forwarded to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) for a final assessment. If the information provided by applicants proves the circumstances they face in their home countries are such that they cannot reasonably be expected to stay there any longer, an entry visa allowing entry to Switzerland will be granted.

Applicants must demonstrate that they are under serious and immediate threat. They therefore need to go in person to a Swiss representation to apply for a visa. For organisational reasons, an appointment must be made. 
Swiss representations

For more information on the Swiss asylum procedure, please visit: 
Swiss Asylum procedure

For information on airport transit, please check the following link, page 1, point 2.1:
List: ID and visa provisions: particularities regardless of nationality

Please check the opening hours of the embassy as well as local public holidays (information is usually available on the embassy’s website). You may also try sending an email:
Swiss representations

If you still fail in reaching the embassy, you may contact the Consular Directorate at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) in Bern directly, which is responsible for dealing with any complaints made about an embassy:
email

You can find the visa application form under the following links:
www.swiss-visa.ch or 
Visa Application Form

If you are having trouble downloading the form from the internet, try again later. Restarting the computer or closing all other programs may help as well.

If it still does not work, send us an email or contact the Swiss Embassy responsible for your area: 
Swiss representations

People travelling on a visitor’s visa may stay in Switzerland for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. After this period of time, they must leave the Schengen area and reapply for another visa.

Schengen visas may be single-entry, dual-entry or multiple-entry and may be issued for a period of validity of up to five years. The period of validity and the number of permissible entries are decided by the consular mission on a case-by-case basis, depending on the purpose of travel and the documents submitted in the visa application.

Schengen visas valid for up to five years may be issued to individuals who:

  • can prove they travel to the Schengen area frequently and/or on a regular basis for business or personal reasons; and
  • have complied with the terms of previously issued visas, thereby demonstrating trustworthiness.

Please note that all Schengen visas, including multiple-entry visas with a longer period of validity, are subject to the same conditions:

  • all stays within the Schengen area may not exceed 90 days within any 180-day period. This 90-day allowance may be used for a single uninterrupted stay or for multiple short stays;
  • travel (incl. medical) insurance must be taken out for all stays in the Schengen area.

In general, visa applications have to be submitted to the Swiss Embassy responsible for the applicant’s place of residence. You can submit your application up to 6 months before the planned journey. Ideally, the submission should take place at least 2 months before the start of the journey.

If your travel date is less than two months away and you still require a visa, please contact the nearest Swiss embassy: 
Swiss representations

Third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA) not subject to visa requirements may be questioned by border guards about the purpose of their visit as well as their financial means on entering Switzerland. They may be turned away if they do not have sufficient financial means and are unable to provide details of where they will be staying and the purpose of their visit. Having sufficient financial means to cover the costs of the stay (about CHF 100 per day) is one of the conditions for staying in Switzerland.

It may therefore be useful to present a personal invitation from a host in Switzerland. However, this is not mandatory.

For detailed information on entry provisions for stateless persons, please visit page 7, point 2.5 on the following website:
List: ID and visa provisions: particularities regardless of nationality

For further questions please contact the Swiss Embassy responsible for the area in which you live:
Swiss representations

Third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA) subject to visa requirements who are not in possession of a visa when crossing the border into Switzerland will generally be refused entry.

In certain cases, however, a visa can be issued at the external borders. Third-country nationals must satisfy the stipulated entry requirements and provide proof that time constraints prevented them from applying for a visa in advance and that they were required to travel owing to unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances.

The period of validity of a visa issued at the border is limited to a maximum of 15 days, and the visa is valid, in principle, for single-entry only.


2. Special information on Schengen

Short-term stays for third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA) within the Schengen area may not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period.

The days of entry and departure are included in the total duration of the stay.

Note:
More detailed explanations on the subject can be found on the website 
Entry.

Unless otherwise noted, Schengen visas are generally valid for all member states of the Schengen Agreement, including Switzerland. A Schengen visa is accepted for entry in conjunction with a valid and recognised travel document.

The authority responsible for issuing the visa is the embassy of the country in which the applicant plans their main stay (i.e. in general the longest stay). If you are planning a round trip and intend to spend the same amount of time in several member states, the authority responsible for issuing the visa is the embassy of the country you will enter first.

It does not matter which airport you arrive at or depart from, provided you stay no longer than 90 days in any 180-day period within the Schengen area. The number of entries applies to the whole of the Schengen area and not just to individual member countries (if not otherwise noted on the visa). Therefore, you may travel throughout the whole of the Schengen area on the same visa for the duration of its validity.

If you have any further questions, please contact the Swiss embassy responsible for the area in which you reside: 
Swiss representations

You will find a list of the residence permits allowing visa-free entry into Switzerland for a maximum stay of 90 days in any 180-day period here:
List of residence permits issued by member states

Please note that holders of valid residence permits from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada or of a US green card wishing to enter Switzerland may be subject to visa requirements.

If you have any further questions, please contact the nearest Swiss embassy: 
Swiss representations

As far as travel within the Schengen area is concerned, Type C and Type D visas are given parity of treatment for a duration of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Holders of residence permits from United Kingdom, Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, Croatia and Canada or of a US green card are not automatically entitled to enter the Schengen area without a visa.

Applications for a Schengen visa can be submitted to a Swiss embassy.

For further information please contact the Swiss embassy responsible for the area in which you live: 
Swiss representations

Yes, third-country nationals subject to visa requirements for the Schengen area who hold a residence permit for United Kingdom, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia or Cyprus and whose spouse is a national of an EU or EFTA member state require a visa to enter Switzerland. They can obtain the visa free of charge.
List: Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality

For travel to other Schengen countries, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) recommends you check with the diplomatic representation (consulate) of the country in question to find out if a visa is required.

The UK is not a Schengen member state; therefore, the British residence permit (EEA Family member Residence Documentation) is not listed in the 
List of Residence Permits issued by the Member States.

The issue of visas without charge is regulated in Art. 13 of the Ordinance on Federal Charges under the Foreign Nationals Act (Gebührenverordnung AIG; SR 142.209).

People seeking information about SIS data may contact the responsible federal authority:

Federal Office of Police (fedpol)
Data Protection Officer
Guisanplatz 1A
3003 Bern

Please note that only persons directly affected by an entry ban within the Schengen Information System (SIS) may file a request for information. This right does not apply to public or other authorities.

Requests for information, deletion, or rectification of personal data stored in the SIS must be submitted in writing either in German, French, Italian, or English and should be accompanied by a high-quality photocopy of an official identification document.

Official documents are:

  • passport
  • Identity card

For further information please visit: 
Information about SIS data.

People seeking information about the reason they are subject to an entry ban may contact the following federal office:

State Secretariat for Migration
Admission and Residence Division
Quellenweg 6
3003 Bern-Wabern

Tel:  +41 (0)58 465 11 11
Fax: +41 (0)31 325 93 79
aufenthalt@sem.admin.ch

At the border, border control officials check whether third-country nationals (with or without a visa requirement) have sufficient financial means to meet their daily cost of living for the duration of their stay and for their return journey. The adequacy of these financial resources shall be determined on the basis of the duration and purpose of the stay.

Sufficient financial resources can be demonstrated by showing cash, traveller’s cheques, credit cards or other collaterals (e.g. bank guarantee).

Third-country nationals who remain in Switzerland at their own expense must be able to demonstrate their financial resources amounting to at least CHF 100 per day of their stay. Students with a valid student permit are required to demonstrate funds of CHF 30 per day.

For stays in other Schengen area countries, the calculation of adequate financial resources is based on the reference amounts established by those countries’ national authorities: 
Reference amounts required for the crossing of the external border fixed by national authorities

The Swiss authorities cannot give any binding information on the practice in other Schengen area countries. Third-country nationals should therefore contact the representations of all countries they intend to visit before starting their journey.  

If the entry takes place through a Schengen area country that is not the main destination, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) recommends that foreign nationals carry traveller’s cheques, debit cards or credit cards as well as cash with them.

Neither a valid residence permit nor a work permit issued by another Schengen member state gives the holder a right to work in Switzerland. The Swiss statutory provisions on labour apply.

For details, please see chapter 7, «I would like to work in Switzerland»

No. While the expulsion order remains in force, you are not permitted to enter or stay in Switzerland.

The expulsion order cannot be revoked or suspended.


3. Border-crossing / Travel documents

In principle, anyone who wishes to enter Switzerland is required to hold a valid travel document in their name (a passport, emergency passport, temporary passport, ID card, or a special travel document issued to children). Depending on nationality, certain expired travel documents are accepted by Switzerland for crossing the Swiss border:
List: Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality.

EU or EFTA citizens wishing to enter Switzerland without a valid travel document will be admitted if they manage to prove or make credible their citizenship. The burden of proof lies with the person concerned and in case of children with their parents or accompanying adults. Proof of citizenship may be furnished by any appropriate means. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) suggests carrying the following documents:

  • a photocopy of a valid travel document;
  • an expired travel document;
  • an official document proving the identity and/or citizenship of the holder (e.g. driver’s licence);
  • for children: an extract from an official register (e.g. the register of births, marriages, and deaths) and/or the original of the child's birth certificate if no such official register exists or if no extract could be issued for lack of time.

In all cases it is strongly recommended to apply for a travel document as soon as possible.

Please note that certain airline companies may not transport passengers without valid travel documents. Please check with your airline what transport conditions apply.

As all countries are autonomous in deciding on their entry provisions, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) recommends you contact the diplomatic/consular mission of the country you are travelling to in Switzerland 
(Diplomatic/consular missions in Switzerland).

Generally, Swiss citizens wishing to enter an EU or EFTA member state are required to hold a valid travel document (e.g. passport, emergency passport, or ID card). However, some EU and EFTA member states recognise Swiss passports which have expired no more than five years previously: 
European Agreement on Regulations governing the Movement of Persons between Member States of the Council of Europe

Swiss citizens who can prove or plausibly demonstrate their Swiss citizenship may be allowed to enter a neighbouring country even if they do not hold a valid travel document. The burden of proof lies with the person concerned and in case of children with their parents or accompanying adults. Proof of citizenship may be furnished by any appropriate means. SEM suggests carrying along the following documents:

  • a photocopy of a valid travel document;
  • an expired travel document;
  • an official document proving the identity and/or citizenship of the holder (e.g. driver’s licence);
  • for children: an extract from an official register (e.g. the register of births, marriages, and deaths) and/or the original of the child's birth certificate if no such official register exists or if no extract could be issued for lack of time.

Please note that some countries may depart from these regulations.

A number of European countries, such as Germany, require foreigners staying on their territory to carry a valid travel document (passport, emergency passport, ID card) at all times. While it may be possible for people to enter and remain in such countries without a travel document, they may become liable to criminal prosecution.

In all cases it is strongly recommended to apply for a travel document as soon as possible

Please note that certain airline companies may not transport passengers without valid travel documents. Please check with your airline what transport conditions apply.

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) does not give any information on the entry policies of third countries. These countries are autonomous in deciding on their entry provisions.

SEM suggests travellers contact the destination country’s diplomatic/consular mission in Switzerland 
(Diplomatic/consular missions in Switzerland)
or the website of the corresponding Swiss diplomatic/consular mission in the destination country
(Swiss diplomatic/consular missions abroad).

Third-country nationals may be admitted to Switzerland if they present the following documents upon entry:

  • an expired or annulled passport containing a valid visa; and
  • a valid and recognised passport (without visa).

The right to refuse entry for other reasons remains reserved.

No: the F and N permits are not travel documents. They merely confirm the holder’s temporary right to stay in Switzerland. It is not possible to travel abroad (including the Schengen area) on either of these permits.

Holders of F or N permits wishing to travel abroad should contact the immigration office of their local canton.

Schoolchildren residing in Switzerland
Schoolchildren from third countries (non EU/EFTA) whose travel documents and/or residence permits do not entitle them to enter a Schengen state without a visa can nevertheless travel on school trips abroad without a visa if their name appears on a separate list
(see List: ID and visa provisions – particularities regardless of nationality).

For travel to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus, the respective embassies can provide information on whether the country in question recognises the school list issued by Switzerland.

The pupils listed are required to travel as a member of a group and need to be accompanied by at least one teacher.

The names of schoolchildren holding a residence permit type N, F or S may also be listed. If a pupil does not hold a valid travel document, the list is accepted in lieu of a travel document, provided it includes a photo of the child.

The list and further information can be obtained from the competent cantonal immigration authorities: 
Cantonal immigration authorities.

Schoolchildren residing in an EU or EFTA member state
Schoolchildren from third countries resident in an EU or EFTA member state may enter Switzerland without a visa if a separate list with the names of the schoolchildren, issued by the competent authorities of the respective EU or EFTA member state, is presented.

The list of schoolchildren is recognised as a valid replacement travel document by Switzerland provided it contains a passport photo of the pupil in question.

As of 26 June 2012, children who are nationals of Schengen states must have their own travel document.

However, Switzerland continues to permit children from third countries (not EU/EFTA member states) to travel on their parents’ passports.

Infants from an EU or EFTA member state may enter Switzerland provided:
(see also list: ID and visa provisions – particularities regardless of nationality, Section 2.13)

  • the infant is not older than six months;
  • the infant has been officially registered (for example, in a register of births, marriages and deaths);
  • the infant is accompanied by one or both parents;
  • at least one of the infant’s parents is a citizen of an EU or EFTA member state; and
  • the parent or parents present a passport or ID card together with an official document showing the child’s birth has been registered.

If no official register exists or if for lack of time no document could be issued, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) advises parents of infants to carry with them their child's birth certificate.

Parents are recommended to apply for their infant’s travel document as early as possible.

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) recommends that minors travelling alone or accompanied by persons other than their parents or legal custodian carry a note of consent from their parents or legal custodian in order to prevent any suspicion arising (e.g. of child abduction). This note should contain the particulars and telephone number of the parents or custodian. In addition, the note may also contain the date of travel, the destination, the duration of travel/stay and the reason for travel.

SEM does not have a special form for this purpose, nor are there any requirements what form such a note should take. The note may be written in the form of a letter.

Paper ID cards bearing an official stamp on the reverse to signify that they have been renewed are considered valid documents entitling the holder to enter Switzerland.

However, ID cards in credit card format accompanied by a separate confirmation of renewal do not permit entry into Switzerland.

However, an Italian citizen without a valid and recognised travel document may be allowed to enter Switzerland if their Italian citizenship can be sufficiently proven.
See also chapter 3, question «May citizens of an EU or EFTA member state who are travelling on a non-valid travel document or without a travel document made out in their name enter Switzerland?»

Bulgarian, Croatian and Romanian nationals may enter Switzerland with a valid passport or identity card.

They do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-period in Switzerland.

Regardless of their visa requirement status, third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA) wishing to enter Switzerland for a short-term stay not exceeding 90 days in any 180-day period must be in possession of a travel document that:

  • is valid for at least three months after the intended date of departure from the Schengen area; and
  • has been issued within the previous ten years (from the date of entry into the Schengen area).

The travel document’s date of issue is the determining factor, regardless of any decision by the authorities to extend the period of validity.

These provisions do not apply to travel documents of third-country nationals who hold a valid residence permit issued by a Schengen country
(List of Residence Permits issued by the Member States)
or who have been issued a valid category D visa for a long-term stay in a Schengen country. In such cases, the travel document must be valid at the time of entry and remain valid for the entire duration of the planned stay in Switzerland or in another Schengen country.

Since 1 January 2014, the validity of the French identity card issued to adults is 15 years.

The 15-year period of validity also applies to identity cards that were issued between 1 January 2004 and 31 December 2013, even if the period of validity noted on the document is only 10 years.

Example:
An identity card issued to an adult on 23 April 2010 is valid, according to the information on the document, until 22 April 2020. However, due to the five-year extension, it is now effectively valid until 22 April 2025.

Identity cards issued to minors remain valid for a period of 10 years only. 


4. For hosts in Switzerland

Our Information sheet for entry to the Schengen area / Visa Procedure describes the general procedure.

Further information can be found in our regulations:
General entry and visa requirements (2 Entry to Switzerland)
Staying in Switzerland (3 Staying in Switzerland)

The letter does not need to have any particular format and does not need to be officially certified.

The letter must be written in an official Swiss language (German, French or Italian). If the letter is written in another language, a translation may be required.

The letter should contain at least the following details:

  • a statement from the host (company or private individual) confirming that the applicant is invited;
  • the host’s as well as the applicant’s full details (surname, first name, date of birth, address, telephone number, email address and nationality);
  • the length of the stay;
  • the date on which the letter was written;
  • the host’s signature (in the case of companies, the letter should be signed by a person authorised to sign according to the commercial register).

If the costs of travel, accommodation and food are being met by the host, this can also be mentioned in the letter of invitation. It may also contain further details of and reasons for the stay in Switzerland.

For further information and an example please consult the following factsheet: 
Factsheet on letter of invitation

A declaration of sponsorship is an official document proving that third-country nationals have sufficient financial means to stay in Switzerland. The relevant form is not issued in advance, nor is it available online.

Applicants should submit their visa application to the Swiss embassy or consulate responsible for their place of residence. If, upon examining the application, the embassy or consulate concludes that a declaration of sponsorship is necessary, it gives the applicant the appropriate form to complete.

The Swiss border control authorities may also require third-country nationals who wish to enter Switzerland free from any visa requirements or submitting a visa application at an external border to produce a signed declaration of sponsorship from a guarantor.

By signing the declaration of sponsorship, the guarantor – a natural or a legal solvent person residing in Switzerland – undertakes to cover any costs arising from sickness, accident, return transport and living, which would otherwise arise for public welfare or private medical services during the applicant’s stay in the Schengen area.

Costs for people travelling alone and for groups or families of not more than ten persons should be covered up to CHF 30,000.

For further information please consult the following factsheet: 
Information on Declaration of Sponsorship

You may submit the declaration of sponsorship to your local cantonal or communal migration authority. The contact details of these authorities are listed in the factsheet on declarations of sponsorship:
Information on Declaration of Sponsorship

Short-term visa applicants must prove that they have medical insurance for the entire length of their stay with a coverage of up to EUR 30,000 for costs arising as a result of:

  • repatriation for medical reasons;
  • emergency medical assistance;
  • emergency hospital care;
  • death expenses, including repatriation costs of the body or remains.

If you are planning several stays in Switzerland, you should be able to show that you have adequate insurance for the duration of your first stay. You should then sign the declaration on the visa application form that you are aware of the requirement to have adequate medical insurance for any further visits.

The insurance must be taken out by the visa applicant with an insurance company authorised by the consulate processing the visa application. A list of authorised companies is available on the consulate’s website or directly from the consulate.

Insurance can also be taken out with a company in Switzerland by a third party (i.e. the person who signed the declaration of sponsorship) in the name of the visa applicant.

Swiss diplomatic missions never advise nor require visa applicants to request money from people in Switzerland. If you send money to someone abroad, you do so at own risk.


5. Travelling in the Schengen area with a Swiss residence permit

Third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA) in possession of a Swiss permit B, C, L and Ci may visit the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa, provided they have a residence permit and a valid travel document.

To travel to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus and Croatia, which are not members of Schengen, you should check with the representation of the country concerned for information on entry requirements: 
Foreign representations in Switzerland.

If your foreign national identity card is not available because it is currently being renewed, please contact the immigration authority responsible for the area you live in and apply for a return visa if necessary. This visa is valid for travel both inside and outside of the Schengen area.
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

If your passport has expired but you still intend to travel without a travel document, please apply to the diplomatic representation of your country in Switzerland for a new passport and inform the cantonal migration authorities responsible for the place of your residence.

If you require a visa for Switzerland, you can apply for one to the embassy or consulate of the Schengen member state of your main destination. The application must be submitted no later than 15 days before your Swiss residence permit expires. If your main destination is Switzerland, you can contact the cantonal immigration office in order to extend your stay.

If you do not require a visa for Switzerland, you can stay in the country for a further 90 (continuous) days. When travelling to another Schengen member state, you should ask the competent authorities of that member state whether and under what conditions you are permitted to stay in that country.


6. Questions on granted or refused visas

If your visa application has been refused, you have the right to appeal within 30 days of receipt of the refusal. The notification of the refusal is communicated by means of a standard visa refusal form. The appeal must be made in writing (German, French or Italian) with a statement of grounds. You can submit the appeal yourself or you may appoint a suitable proxy to do so e.g. your private host or host company in Switzerland. Appeals should be submitted to the following address:

State Secretariat for Migration (SEM)
Quellenweg 6
3003 Bern-Wabern

If you do not have anauthorised proxy, you can submit the appeal to a Swiss representation abroad.

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) requires an advance on costs before beginning the visa appeal process.

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) will acknowledge receipt of the appeal and will ask youpay an advance on costs of CHF 200.- within 30 days (Art. 63 Administrative Procedure Act). The advance must be made using the paying-in slip sent with SEM’s acknowledgment notice.

You may appeal against a decision within 30 days of receiving it. Your appeal should be sent to the Federal Administrative Court at the following address:

Federal Administrative Court
P.O. Box/Postfach
9023 St Gallen

You need to explain the reasons for your appeal and submit any evidence you have. In addition, you should enclose a copy of the decision you are appealing against in one of the three official languages (German, French or Italian). The period for filing an appeal is 30 days. Appeals will be considered if submitted to the competent authorities, a Swiss post office, a Swiss embassy or consulate within the 30-day deadline. Appeals submitted after the deadline will not be considered (Art. 21 para. 1 Administrative Procedure Act).

To extend your visa, please contact the immigration authorities of your local canton:
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

Please note that, generally, you are only permitted to stay in Switzerland for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period.

For information on the status of your application please contact the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) either by email, telephone or post:
Contact
Applications for entry visas (no return visas).

In order to provide you with accurate information on the status of your application, your exact personal data is required: surname, first name, date of birth, nationality and/or ORBIS reference number of the embassy you submitted your application to.


7. Long-term residency in Switzerland (more than 90 days) / Employment in Switzerland

The cantonal immigration authorities are responsible for issuing residence permits. Please therefore contact your local immigration authority for any questions about residence permits.
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

Further information regarding residence permits in Switzerland can be found here:
Residence

Switzerland has a dual system for the admission of foreign workers. Gainfully employed nationals from EU/EFTA member states benefit from the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons. As for third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA), only a limited number of management level employees, specialists and other qualified employees are admitted.

For information on admission requirements please visit: 
Labour / Work permits

For other useful information on working in Switzerland visit:
FAQ – Frequently asked questions Labour / Work permits

Gainful employment
Legal bases: Residence and gainful employment (not available in English)

Free Movement of Persons:
Free Movement of Persons Switzerland – EU/EFTA

The cantonal immigration authorities are responsible for issuing residence permits. Please therefore contact your local immigration authority for any questions about residence permits:
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities.

For further information regarding residence permits in Switzerland please visit:
Residence

If you have any questions, contact the Swiss diplomatic mission responsible for your place of residence:
Swiss representations

If you provide accommodation to foreign nationals for payment you must notify the authorities immediately. If foreign nationals are accommodated free of charge, you do not need to notify the authorities, although some cantons may impose this requirement. Please contact your local cantonal authority for more information:
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities


8. Other questions

You can find information on the statutory provisions regarding visa matters under the following link:
Visa

The information is available in German, French and Italian. Two lists (Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality + ID and visa provisions – particularities regardless nationality) are also available in English.

Please direct all your questions to the Federal Customs Administration.

Tel.: +41 58 467 15 15
Email
Website

For information on bringing animals into Switzerland, please visit:
Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office FSVO

If you have any further questions, please contact the FSVO directly.

Tel.: +41 58 463 30 33
Email

For all questions on buying property in Switzerland, please contact the following authority:

Federal Office of Justice
Federal Land Registry and Real Estate Law Office
Taubenstrasse 16
3003 Bern

Tel.: +41 58 462 47 97
Website

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