Personal Protection Officers accompanying foreign dignitaries in Switzerland

General
In order to ensure the best possible security for an important foreign personage visiting Switzerland, the diplomatic missions are required to provide Protocol of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (Ceremonial and Visits Section) with all relevant information relating to:

  • the personal protection officers to accompany a VIP on Swiss territory, and carrying one or more weapons
  • the communication devices to be used by the personal protection officers
  • the surveillance of the plane whilst on the tarmac

Personal protection officers
The number of armed personal protection officers who will be permitted to enter and visit Switzerland is limited to a maximum of 5, and only handguns will be authorised. Personal protection officers carrying any other weapons which fall under Switzerland’s war material legislation (for example submachine guns) will be required to hand them in for deposit at the competent police authority upon arrival in Switzerland. The Swiss authorities reserve the right to refuse additional requests for the bearing of arms in the event of breach of these regulations.

It should be noted that in Switzerland pepper sprays (sprays à poivre in French, Pfefferspray in German), teargas sprays (sprays à gaz lacrymogène in French, Tränengas in German), truncheons and telescopic batons are considered as weapons and must be included, with detailed descriptions and number, in the request for authorisation.

To obtain authorisations required for the bearing of arms, diplomatic missions should send Protocol of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in Bern (Ceremonial and Visits Section, fax No. 031-324.02.28) a verbal note containing the following information:

  • Family name(s) and first name(s) of the person (s) bearing arms
  • date(s) of birth
  • rank(s)
  • type of weapon(s), model(s) and serial number(s)
  • quantity and type of ammunition
  • number and type of sprays
  • number and type of truncheons
  • date/time/place the personal protection officer will arrive in and depart from Switzerland (airport or border post), in case of arrival or departure:
    a) by air: airline company and flight number, special flight details where applicable,
    b) by road: make of car (s) and licence plate details
  • details of accommodation whilst in Switzerland (hotels, etc.).

    Missions must submit requests for authorisation for the bearing of arms at least 5 working days before the arrival in Switzerland of VIP visitors accompanied by personal protection officers.
    The Department wishes to remind the missions that the permit for the bearing of arms will be delivered to personal protection officers at their point of entry into Switzerland.

    No permit to bear arms will be issued to personal protection officers participating in a preparatory visit to organise the future visit to Switzerland of an important foreign personage. In respect of such preparatory visits, the Department requests that missions inform Protocol sufficiently in advance (ten days prior to arrival in Switzerland) of all movements of such officers in Swiss territory as well as all contacts they wish to make with the various bodies of competent cantonal police. Missions should take note that direct contact with cantonal authorities is not permitted without prior notice having been given to the competent federal authorities.


The use of communication devices by personal protection officers
Requests for authorisation should be submitted directly to OFCOM:

Federal Office of Communications
Radio Licences
tel. +41(0) 32 327 58 33
fax +41(0) 32 327 58 40

44 rue de l’Avenir
P.O.Box 332
2501 Biel-Bienne

Requests should include the following information:

  • Number of radios
  • Make and type of devices
  • Capacity/range
  • All frequencies capable of being used

Full copies of requests should be sent to Protocol at the FDFA (Ceremonial and Visits Section) for information purposes.

OFCOM will send authorisations directly to the diplomatic mission concerned within 2-3 days following receipt of requests.

 Surveillance of planes whilst on the tarmac
Foreign personal protection officers may only be armed whilst inside a presidential or official aircraft under surveillance. The security / surveillance of the area where VIP aircraft are parked comes under the jurisdiction of the airport police of the airport concerned.
Where applicable, details of personal protection officers remaining on board an aircraft must be made known to Protocol (Ceremonial and Visits Section). The Federal Security Services (OFP) will then inform the security body of the airport concerned of their agreement in princi-ple.

 Particularities

a) Identity documents
Personal protection officers planning to leave an aircraft must in all cases be in possession of their passports and, if applicable, a valid Swiss entry visa.
b) Special flights
For special flights (governmental planes, transport planes, private planes etc.) requests to fly over or land on Swiss territory must still be addressed to the competent authorities in accordance with the procedures currently in force.