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

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) cannot provide any information on this matter. Please contact the Swiss Embassy responsible for the area in which you are currently residing: Swiss representations

The relevant information can be obtained directly from the Embassy’s 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 they are not able to present such documentation, they may enter Switzerland if they are able to prove or demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that they are Swiss citizens. In order to do so, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) 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 license).

EU and EEA1 citizens, have to meet the following requirements in order to enter Switzerland:

  • they must present an ID card or passport which, ideally is still valid (Annex 1, list 1: Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality);
  • they must not be the subject of an alert issued in order to prevent them from entering Switzerland;
  • they must not pose a threat to public order, Swiss security, public health or the international relations of any of the Schengen states;
  • they may not have been sentenced to expulsion from or refusal of entry to Switzerland.

1EEA members states: Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland.

Family members of EU or EFTA1 citizens must meet the following requirements in order to enter Switzerland:

  • they must present 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 10 years;
  • if necessary, they must possess a specific residence permit from a Schengen country or a visa (see: List of residence permits issued by Member States);
  • they must not pose a threat to Swiss security, public order, public health or the international relations of any of the Schengen states;
  • they may not have been sentenced to expulsion from or refusal of entry to 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 descendants of EU or EFTA citizens and of their spouses or registered partners, that are under the age of 21;
  • relatives in ascending line of EU or EFTA citizens and their spouses or registered partners.

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

Third-country nationals (non-EU/EFTA) who fall under the visa obligation 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 concerns only 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 have a valid C visa (Schengen visa) or a D visa (national visa) unless they hold a residence permit issued by a Schengen state (List of residence permits issued by member states); if they are holding a valid residence permit issued by a Schengen member state or a valid D visa (national visa), their travel document 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 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 subject of an alert issued in order to prevent them from entering Switzerland;
  • they must not pose a threat to Swiss security, public order, public health or the international relations of any of the Schengen states;
  • they may not have been sentenced to expulsion from or refusal of entry to Switzerland.

N.B.:
Those who plan to enter the Schengen area via a country other than Switzerland, are advised to inform themselves on the entry conditions applied by that country. Thereto they may contact the responsible consulate of the intended destination 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 and must have been issued within the previous ten years (the date of issue concerns only entry into the Schengen area);
  • 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 order to prevent them from entering Switzerland;
  • they must not pose a threat to Swiss security, public order, public health or the international relations of any of the Schengen states;
  • they may not have been sentenced to expulsion from or refusal of entry to 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).

N.B.:
Those who plan to enter the Schengen area via a country other than Switzerland, are advised to inform themselves on the entry conditions applied by that country. Thereto they may contact the responsible consulate of the intended destination country.

Please check the visa requirements  for your nationality as  well as the special provisions irrespective of nationality under the following links:
Annex 1, List 1: Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality
Annex 1, List 2: ID and visa provisions: particularities regardless of nationality

If nothing to the contrary is stated on it a Schengen visa is valid for Switzerland and all other Schengen member states.

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 programs. 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 visit www.swiss-visa.ch or Schengen visa application and complete the visa form.

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 legally for a prolonged period of time. Stays subjected to type D visa requirements need to be authorised by the appropriate authorities in advance; they are commonly issued for work or studies in Switzerland, family reunification or lengthy medical treatment.

To apply for a Type D visa, please visit Type D visa application and complete the visa form.

Once a Swiss representation considers a Schengen visa application to be admissible), the application will be processed and a decision is taken generally within fifteen days. Applications are considered to be admissible by the representation after receiving the applicant’s passport, photograph and other relevant documents. Furthermore, the applicant must have been fingerprinted and the visa fee must be covered. Under certain circumstances, the period for processing an application may be extended up to 30 or 60 days.

Applications for a national visa (Type D visa) fall under jurisdiction of 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 turn to the competent migration authorities: Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

The cost of submitting an application is EUR 60. An additional EUR 60 is charged for a renewed application following a rejection. This amount does not include processing fees.

The Federal Assembly, on 28 September 2012, approved a priority bill amending the Asylum Act, thus abolishing the possibility of applying for asylum from abroad. However, people of non-Swiss citizenship who, for compelling reasons, feel required to leave their home countries and wish to apply for asylum in Switzerland may file a visa application at a Swiss diplomatic representation. The representation will determine whether compelling reasons exist warranting the issuance of a visa for Switzerland. Applicants are eligible for a visa if it may be presumed that they are in imminent and serious danger of bodily harm. People who, for compelling reasons, have left their home countries and are now staying in a third country are generally not considered at risk.

After receiving an application for a humanitarian visa, the diplomatic representation first examines whether grounds for such an application exist. 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.

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:
Annex 1, List 2: ID and visa provisions: particularities regardless of nationality

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

If you still fail in reaching the embassy, you may contact the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Bern directly, which is responsible for dealing with any complaints made about an embassy: E-Mail

You can find the visa application form on our website: www.swiss-visa.ch or Visa Application Form

If you are having trouble downloading the form from the internet, you may try again later. A restart of 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.

There is no legal right to a visitor’s 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-per-case basis, depending on the purpose of travel and the documents submitted in the visa application.

Schengen visas with a period of validity of 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 broken down into multiple stays;
  • travel insurance must be taken out for all stays in the Schengen area.

In general, the application for a visa has to be submitted at least two months in advance to the Swiss Embassy responsible for the place of residence of the applicant.

If this is not possible, please contact the nearest Swiss Embassy:Swiss representations

Third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA1) 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. As 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.

Therefore, presenting a personal invitation from a host in Switzerland can be useful. However, this is not mandatory.

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

For detailed information on entry provisions for stateless persons, please visit page 7, point 2.5 on the following website:
Annex 1, List 2: 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/EFTA1) subject to visa requirements who are not in possession of a visa when crossing the external border will generally be refused entry.

In clearly defined 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 unforeseen circumstances or compelling reasons forced them to travel.

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

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland


2. Special information on Schengen

Short-term stays for third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA1) within the Schengen area may not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period.

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

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

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

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 recognized travel document.

The authority responsible for issuing the visa is the embassy of the country in which the applicant plans his/her main stay (i.e. in general the longest stay). If the applicant is planning a round trip and intends to spend the same amount of time in several member states, the authority responsible for issuing the visa is the embassy of the country that you plan to visit 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 visiting:
List of residence permits issued by member states

Please note that holders of valid residence permits from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada or a Green Card from the United States of America, that wish 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 a Green Card from the United States of America may require a visa to enter the Schengen area. 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

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 EFTA1 member state do require a visa to enter Switzerland. They can obtain the visa free of charge.
Annex 1, list 1: Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality

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

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

The UK is a EU member state however 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 free issuance of visas is regulated in Art. 13 of the Ordinance on Federal Charges under the Foreign Nationals Act (Gebührenverordnung AIG; SR 142.209).

For more information on visa charges, please refer to Weisungen Visa.

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

Federal Office of Police (fedpol)
Data Protection Officer
Nussbaumstrasse 29
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 may be submitted in writing either in German, French, Italian, or English and 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

Third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA1) must have adequate financial resources to cover the duration of their stay. 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. The reference amount for students with a valid student permit is CHF 30 per day.

For stays in other countries, the calculation of adequate financial resources is based on the reference amounts established by national authorities: Annex 18: Reference amounts required for the crossing of the external border fixed by national authorities

If the entry takes place through a Schengen 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.

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

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, question «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 in order to allow you a visit to Switzerland.


3. Border-crossing / Travel documents

In principle, anyone who wishes to enter Switzerland is required to hold a valid travel document made out to his/her 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: Annex 1, List 1: Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality.

EU or EFTA1 citizens wishing to enter Switzerland without a valid travel document will be admitted if they manage to proof 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 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 of an official register (e.g. the register of births, marriages, and deaths) and/or if no such official register exists or if no extract could be issued for lack of time, the original of the child's birth certificate.

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.

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

As all countries are autonomous in deciding on their entry provisions, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) suggests for travelers to contact the destination country's diplomatic/consular mission in Switzerland (Diplomatic/consular missions in Switzerland.

Generally, Swiss citizens wishing to enter an EU or EFTA1 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 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 neighboring 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. The 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 license);
  • for children: an extract of an official register (e.g. the register of births, marriages, and deaths) and/or, if no such official register exists or if no extract could be issued for lack of time, the original of the child's birth certificate.

The SEM would like to point out, 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.

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) does not give any information on the entry policies of third-countries (not EU or EFTA1 member states). These countries are autonomous in deciding on their entry provisions.

The SEM suggests for travelers to 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).

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

Third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA1 may be admitted to Switzerland if they present the following documents upon entry:

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

The right to refusal of entry for other reasons remains reserved.

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

No. The F and N permits do not constitute travel documents. They merely confirm the holders temporary right to stay in Switzerland. Therefore, travels abroad (including the Schengen area) with either of these permits are prohibited.

Holders of F or N permits, that wish to travel abroad, are asked to contact the migration office of the canton they are residing in.

Schoolchildren residing in Switzerland
Schoolchildren from third countries (non EU/EFTA1 whose travel documents and/or residence permits do not entitle them to enter a Schengen state without a visa can nevertheless travel without a visa if a separate list of the schoolchildren is presented in the context of school excursions (see: Annex, list 2: ID and visa provisions – particularities regardless of nationality). For travel to Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus, those responsible for the schoolchildren should enquire with the respective embassies whether the country in question recognizes the school list issued by Switzerland.

The schoolchildren 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, but do not own a valid passport, may also be added to such a list. If a schoolchild does not hold a valid travel document, the list is accepted in lieu of a travel document, provided it contains a photo of that 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 travel document by Switzerland if it contains a passport photo of the schoolchild in question.

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

As of 26 June 2012, Switzerland no longer recognises child entries in passports from Schengen countries. Each child needs to have his or her own travel document.

However, Switzerland continues to recognise child entries in passports from third countries (not EU or EFTA1 member states).

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

Infants, that are citizens of an EU or EFTA1 member state and that are travelling without a passport made out in their name are admitted to Switzerland if the following requirements have been met cumulatively:
(see also Visa Directives, Annex 1, List 2, Section 2.15)

  • 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 parent/s;
  • one or both of the infant's parent/s are citizens of an EU or EFTA member state;
  • the parent or parents present their passports or ID cards together with an extract of their child's entry in an official register (for example, a register of births, marriages, and deaths).

If no such official register exists in the parents' EU or EFTA member state, or if for lack of time no extract could have been issued, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) advises parents of infants to carry with them their child's birth certificate when travelling abroad.

Parents are recommended to apply for their infants travel documents as soon as possible.

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

For minors travelling alone or accompanied by persons other than their parents or legal custodian the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) recommends, in order to forestall any suspicion (e.g. abduction of children) for these minors to carry a note of consent from their parents or custodian. 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.

The 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 their holders to enter Switzerland.

ID cards in credit card format that have been renewed by means of a separate confirmation of extension of validity are not recognised by Switzerland and thus do not authorise entry into Swiss territory.

However, an Italian citizen without a valid and recognised travel document may be allowed to enter Switzerland if his / her 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 within Switzerland.

Regardless of their visa obligation status, third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA1) wishing to enter Switzerland for a short-term stay not exceeding 90 days per period of 180-daya must be in possession of a travel document that:

  • will remain 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 (the date of issue concerns only entry into the Schengen area).

The date of issuance of the travel document shall be the determining factor, notwithstanding any decision by the authorities to extend the period of validity of the travel document.

The aforementioned provisions on the validity of travel documents 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.

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

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 5-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 form and does not require 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 your host (company or private individual) confirming that they have invited you;
  • your host’s as well as your own 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;
  • your host’s signature (in the case of companies, the letter should be signed by a person authorized to sign according to the commercial register).

If the costs of travel, accommodation and food are being met by your host, this can also be mentioned in the letter of invitation. The letter of invitation 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 will not be handed out 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 request from third-country nationals who wish to enter Switzerland free from any visa requirements or submitting a visa application at an external border, 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 the 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 traveling alone, traveling groups, or families of not more than ten are 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 the cantonal or communal service responsible for your residence. The contact details of these services 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 with a coverage of up to EUR 30,000 for costs arising during their stay in the Schengen Area for the following:

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

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. Whoever transmits money to people abroad does so at their own risk and responsibility.


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

Third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA1) 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 carry with them their residence permit and a valid and recognised travel document.

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

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

If your foreign national identity card is not available because it is currently with the competent authorities for renewal, please contact the migration authority responsible for the area where you live in and apply for a return visa if necessary. This visa is valid for travel both inside and outside 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.

Persons subject to visa regulations can apply for a visa to the competent diplomatic mission of the Schengen member state of their principal destination. The application must be submitted no later than 15 days before expiry of their Swiss residence permit. If their principle destination is Switzerland, they can contact the cantonal migration office in order to extend their stay.

Persons not subject to visa regulations are permitted to stay in Switzerland for a further 90 days in the context of a stay exempt from authorisation. When travelling to another Schengen member state, it is recommended to inquire from the competent authorities of that member state whether and to what extent a stay is permitted, as not all Schengen members apply the same rules in such instances.

For further information please consult our visa directives. The information is available in German, French and Italian.


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 under Annex 10 of the Visa Provisions SEM. The appeal must be made in writing (German, French or Italian) with a statement of grounds. It may be submitted by the applicant’s host in Switzerland, or their legal representative, to the following address:

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

If you do not have a host or legal representative, the appeal may be submitted to the 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) acknowledges receipt of appeal and requests the appellant to remit within 30 days an advance on costs of CHF 200.- (Art. 63 Administrative Procedure Act). The advance must be made using the pay-in slip annexed to the 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:

Bundesverwaltungsgericht
P.O. Box/Postfach
9023 St Gallen

It is necessary for you 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(1) Administrative Procedure Act).

Border authorities check whether third-country nationals (non EU/EFTA1) have sufficient means to support themselves while in Switzerland and to pay for their return trip. All third-country nationals entering Switzerland with the view of staying for an extended period of time are to prove they have sufficient means, regardless of whether they are subject to or exempt from visa requirements. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) recommends for third-country nationals to have at least CHF 100 at their daily disposal in order to defray their stay in Switzerland. Students staying in Switzerland on a student visa are expected to have at least CHF 30 per day.

The following are considered means of financial support or proof thereof: cash, traveler's cheques, bank and credit cards, or a declaration of sponsorship (for details, please see chapter 4, question "Declaration of sponsorship"). People submitting a bank or credit card as proof of sufficient funds may be required to make a cash withdrawal.

Swiss authorities cannot make any official statement about subsistence requirements of other Schengen member states; therefore, third-country nationals are advised to contact the appropriate diplomatic mission of the country they intend to travel to.

1EFTA members states: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland

To extend your visa, please contact the migration authorities of the canton in which you are staying:
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 e-mail, telephone or post:
Contact: On the topic of 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: surnames, first names, 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

Due to a division of jurisdiction between the cantons and the Confederation, it is the cantonal migration authorities that are responsible for issuing residence permits. Therefore, inquiries on the subject of residence permits should be directed to the migration authority responsible for the canton of residence. For a list of cantonal migration offices please visit Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities

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

Due to a division of jurisdiction between the cantons and the Confederation, it is the cantonal migration authorities that are responsible for issuing residence permits. Therefore, inquiries on the subject of residence permits should be directed to the migration authority responsible for the canton of residence. For a list of cantonal migration offices please visit: Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities (available in German only).

For more information on Swiss residence permits, please visit:
Residence
Annex 1, List 1: Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality
Annex 1, List 2: ID and visa provisions: particularities regardless of nationality
Family reunification / (foreign) spouse of a Swiss citizen (6.2)
Family reunification / (foreign) spouse of a foreign national holding an unlimited residence permit (6.3)
Family reunification / (foreign) spouse of a foreign national holding a limited residence permit (6.4)
     (Information available in German, French and Italian)

Due to a division of jurisdiction between the cantons and the Confederation, it is the cantonal migration authorities that are responsible for issuing residence permits. Therefore, inquiries on the subject of residence permits should be directed to the migration authority responsible for the canton of residence. For a list of cantonal migration offices please visit:
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities (available in German only).

For more information on Swiss residence permits, please visit:
Residence
Annex 1, List 1: Overview of ID and visa provisions according to nationality
Annex 1, List 2: ID and visa provisions: particularities regardless of nationality 
Family reunification / (foreign) spouse of a Swiss citizen (6.2)
Family reunification / (foreign) spouse of a foreign national holding an unlimited residence permit (6.3)
Family reunification / (foreign) spouse of a foreign national holding a limited residence permit (6.4)
     (Information available in German, French and Italian)

Switzerland has a dual system for the admission of foreign workers. Gainfully employed nationals from EU/EFTA1) member states benefit from the Free Movement of Persons Agreement. 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 valuable 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

Due to a division of competences between the cantons and the Confederation, cantonal migration authorities are primarily responsible for the issuance of residence permits. Petitions are therefore to be addressed to the migration authority responsible for the respective canton of residence. For a list of cantonal migration offices please visit:
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities (list available only in German language).

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

Providing accommodation to foreign nationals against payment is subject to the obligation to notify the authorities immediately. If foreign nationals are accommodated free of charge, there is no obligation to notify the authorities. Cantonal provisions may differ. Please turn to the competent cantonal authorities for detailed information:
Cantonal immigration and labour market authorities (only available in German).


8. Other questions

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

The information is available in German, French and Italian. List 1, Annex 1+2 of Weisungen Visa are also available in English.

Please direct all your questions to the Federal Customs Administration.

Phone +41 58 467 15 15
E-Mail
Homepage

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

For further questions, please contact the Federal Veterinary Office. Thank you.

Phone: +41 58 463 30 33
E-Mail

For all questions on buying property in Switzerland, please contact the competent authorities:

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

Phone +41 58 462 47 97
Homepage

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