Switzerland

Entry Requirements

Minimum validity of travel documents

EEA citizens, as well as non-EEA citizens who are visa-exempt eg US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, need only produce a passport which is valid for the entirety of their stay in Switzerland.

Other nationals who are required to have a visa e.g. South Africa, however, must produce a passport which has at least 3 months' validity beyond their period of stay in Switzerland.

However, EEA citizens can still enter Switzerland without a valid travel document if their citizenship has been established. The burden of proof rests with the person concerned. Proof of citizenship may be furnished by any appropriate means e.g. an expired passport, official document proving identity and/or citizenship of holder.

More information about the minimum validity of travel documents, as well as entry for EEA citizens without valid travel documents, is available at the FAQs section of the website of the Federal Office for Migration under the 'Border-crossing/Travel documents' heading.

Switzerland is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented this treaty - the European Union except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs checks but no immigration checks travelling within Schengen but to/from a non-EU country or you may have to clear immigration but not customs travelling within the EU but to/from a non-Schengen country.

Please see the article Travel in the Schengen Zone for more information about how the scheme works and what entry requirements are.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU nor the EEA, and is not in the European Union Customs Union. Therefore, most travellers entering Switzerland are subject to customs controls even if there are no immigration controls, and persons travelling elsewhere in the Schengen Area will also have to clear customs. Take note that passengers may be checked twice upon entering Switzerland by land: once by the customs officers of the country they are leaving and another by the border police of Switzerland. There are no border or customs checks for those entering and leaving Lichtenstein owing to the open border and total customs union.

Unaccompanied minors travellers under the age of 18 years are strongly advised to have a note of consent from their parents/guardian, as well as a copy of the parents' or guardian's valid passport or ID card. For more information, visit the FAQs section of the website of the Federal Office for Migration under the 'Border-crossing/Travel documents' heading.

By bus
By bus

Eurolines has incorporated Switzerland into its route network.

Due to the Bosnian war in the 1990s there are several bus companies serving the Bosnian diaspora, which provide a cheap and clean way of getting to the Balkans. Turistik Prošić runs from various destinations in the Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina to Switzerland.

By plane
By plane

Major international airports are in Zurich, Geneva and Basel, with smaller airports in Lugano and Berne. Flying into nearby Milan Italy, Lyon or even Paris France, Frankfurt Germany, or Munich Germany are other options though rather expensive and time-consuming 3h Frankfurt-Basel, 4h Frankfurt-Berne/Zurich, 4h Milan-Zurich, 3h Paris-Basel/Geneva, 4h Paris-Berne/Zurich, 3.5h Munich-St. Gall, 4.5h Munich-Zurich by train. Some discount airlines fly to Friedrichshafen, Germany which is just across Lake Constance the Bodensee from Romanshorn, not too far 1h from Zurich.

The Flagcarrier of Switzerland is SWISS which is a member of Star Alliance and successor to the famous, but defunct, Swissair.

By train
By train

Trains arrive from all parts of Europe. Switzerland is together with Germany one of the most central-lying countries in Europe, making it a nexus of railways and highways to the rest of Europe. Some major routes include:

The TGV Lyria Train à grande vitesse, French/Swiss high-speed rail connection to Switzerland, with several trains daily from Paris, Avignon, Dijon, and Nice with direct trains from Paris Gare de Lyon to either Geneva, or Vallorbe - Lausanne, or Basel - Olten - Bern - Interlaken, or Basel - Zurich (http://tgv-lyria.com/main...).

Hourly trains to/from Milan with connections to all parts of Italy

Hourly ICE InterCity-Express, German high-speed trains from Zurich to Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Frankfurt in Germany, many continuing toward Amsterdam, Hamburg or Berlin.

Regular ICE trains from Zurich to Stuttgart

Regular EuroCity trains from Zurich to Munich

Night trains from Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Prague, Vienna, Belgrade, Barcelona Rome and Venice to Basel, Geneva, Zurich and some also to Lausanne. These trains are either "EuroNight" symbol: EN or CityNightLine symbol: CNL services (http://www.citynightline.ch/)

By car
By car

Common tourist destinations within Switzerland are easily reachable by car, e.g. Geneva from central eastern France, and Zurich from southern Germany. Although Switzerland is now part of the Schengen agreement, it is not part of the EU customs/tariff union. Therefore, EU/Swiss border posts focus on smuggling e.t.c but there is no passport control. Delays are usually short but cars may be stopped and no reason needs to be named. Some delay may be caused by queuing at busy times, and there are often queues lasting hours to use the tunnels under the Alps from Italy such as Mont Blanc, Gotthard etc. Swiss motorway vignettes 40 Swiss Francs can and should be purchased at the border if your car does not already have a valid one for the year and you intend to use the Swiss motorways which is almost unavoidable. Keep in mind when choosing your means of transport that most cities do not have free parking.

When using mountain roads, bear in mind that they are also used by buses - most relevant on hair pin bends. And most mountain roads are frequently used by the yellow Swiss PostAuto bus. If you see a postal bus, or even much better, hear it approaching a bend by its distinctive three tone horn, hold right back before the bend! and let it pass, they always have priority and their drivers count on your passive driving see also mountain road hints below!