Visa – Entry to and residence in Switzerland

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Important - Visa applications

The offices of our external service provider VFS Global in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban will reopen as of 5th July 2021. Kindly contact VFS Global directly for booking an appointment. 

Fully vaccinated persons with a recognized vaccine residing in South Africa, Eswatini and Lesotho: You can submit your visa application through our external service provider VFS Global as of 5th July 2021 with appointment.

Persons residing in South Africa, Eswatini and Lesotho who do not meet the vaccination requirements (not fully vaccinated or vaccine not recognized): entry into Switzerland is only possible if you fall under a case of special necessity. Kindly send an email to inquire about your situation to pretoria.visa@eda.admin.ch. Only once you have received a confirmation email from the Visa Section that you do qualify for a case of special necessity you can submit your visa application through the external service provider VFS Global with appointment. 

Important: Please note that the Schengen visa processing time will take 15 calendar days (as per Visa codex Chapter II Art. 9 and Chapter III Art. 23) commencing from the date of submission at VFS Global. Kindly take note that expediting the Visa processing time is not possible. If the scheduled entry into Switzerland is less than 15 calendar days from the date of submission, applications will unfortunately not be accepted by VFS Global.

Further, kindly take note that during the processing time of visa applications at the Embassy of Switzerland in Pretoria, no information / updates / outcome of applications (entry requests) can be provided (neither via email nor by phone).

General Visa information regarding entry/travelling to Switzerland

Who can enter Switzerland

Even if you are arriving from a high-risk country, you can still enter Switzerland if you meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • You have Swiss citizenship.
  • You hold a travel document (e.g. a passport or identity card) and:
    • • a Swiss residence permit (L / B / C / Ci permit);
    • • a cross-border permit (G permit),
    • • an FDFA legitimation card;
    • • a D visa issued by Switzerland;
    • • a C visa issued by Switzerland after 16 March 2020 in a valid exceptional case or in order to work on a short-term contract;
    • • an assurance of a residence permit
    • • confirmation of notification for the cross-border provision of services up to 90 days in any calendar year (e.g. UK nationals).
  • You hold a refugee’s or stateless person’s travel document issued by Switzerland, a passport for foreign nationals issued by Switzerland, a valid residence or permanent residence permit or an F-Permit.
  • You have rights of free movement. If you require a visa, a valid Schengen C-visa, a valid D-visa or a valid Schengen residence permit are sufficient (see FAQ “Who has rights of free movement?”).
  • You are in a situation of special necessity (see FAQ). The border control authority will assess the necessity of the situation.
  • You can prove that they have been vaccinated with a recognized vaccine (see FAQ "How can I prove that I am vaccinated?").
  • You are under 18 and are travelling with an adult who has been fully vaccinated.
  • You are simply travelling directly through Switzerland with the intention and possibility of entering another country. (see FAQ ‘Travelling through Switzerland’).

Authorised / recognized vaccines for entry into Switzerland are:

  • Pfizer/Pfizer/BioNTech (BNT162b2 / Comirnaty® / Tozinameran)
  • Moderna (mRNA-1273 / Spikevax / COVID-19 vaccine Moderna)
  • AstraZeneca (AZD1222 Vaxzevria®/ Covishield™)
  • Janssen / Johnson & Johnson (Ad26.COV2.S)
  • Sinopharm / BIBP (SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine (Vero Cell))
  • Sinovac (CoronaVac)

You must be able to prove that you meet the abovementioned requirements.

To see what rules apply to your own particular situation when entering Switzerland, consult the online Travelcheck. Please do not forget to fill in the following entry form before travelling to Switzerland.

Please note that the airlines themselves decide on the conditions on which they carry passengers. If this is relevant to your situation, please ask the airline concerned about the conditions that they apply.

If you still have questions, please read the FAQs of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) carefully.

COVID FAQ

Please refer to the following website for more information regarding the FOPH (Federal Office of Public Health) regarding sanitary protocol when entering Switzerland (Entry form, PCR test, quarantine, etc).

Various regulations apply for entering Switzerland. A basic distinction is made between citizens of the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries and those of other countries. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) is the responsible authority in Switzerland.

SEM

Since Switzerland’s adherence to the Schengen and Dublin agreements came into force (12 December 2008), Swiss representations abroad are able to issue certain categories of visa, depending on the length of stay and purpose of the journey in Switzerland. Please select one of the following options.

Schengen visa for a stay of up to 90 days

For persons wishing to enter Switzerland for a short stay of up to 90 days within a 180-day period: for example, in a context of tourism, a visit to relatives or friends, short-term language studies, participating in a conference or in sporting/cultural events, etc.

National visa for a stay of more than 90 days

For persons wishing to enter Switzerland for a stay of more than 90 days within a 180-day period. It is subject to the authorisation of the cantonal migration authority competent for the intended place of residence. For example: long-term student, family reunification, marriage in Switzerland, etc.

Airport transit visa

For citizens of certain countries who need a transit visa even if they are staying in the international transit area of the airport and do not enter the Schengen territory.

Labour / Work permits

Admission of foreign workers to an employer in Switzerland is subject to the authorisation of the competent cantonal authority. The entry visa is granted only when the requested authorisations have been delivered.

Introduction of biometrics

On 11 October 2011 the Schengen member states introduced the Visa Information System (VIS). The VIS will also be used to store the biometric data (10 fingerprints and the facial image) of the visa applicants.

The Schengen Member States introduced the biometric visa on the 06.06.2013 in the Region of Southern Africa.

Therefore, the biometric data of all visa applicants older than 12 years will have to be registered. All visa clients have to apply in person according to the information published on where to apply.