United Kingdom (UK)

Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK) have maintained close relations over many years founded on similar ideas in areas such as the rule of law, fundamental freedoms, social and economic order, and good governance, and with a special focus on economic and financial market issues.

For Switzerland and the UK, the decision by a majority of UK voters to leave the EU (Brexit referendum of 23 June 2016) meant that numerous provisions which were previously regulated under EU law had to be negotiated bilaterally. Since 1 January 2021, a series of follow-up agreements have been negotiated with the UK and come into force as part of Switzerland's Mind the Gap strategy. In addition to ensuring continuity, the strategy also provides for a possible further development and deepening of relations with the UK (Mind the Gap+). Within the context of this strategy, Switzerland and the UK have concluded new agreements covering trade, financial services, migration, road and air transport, scientific cooperation and insurance.

Switzerland–UK relations post Brexit

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

Switzerland and the UK are committed to developing and strengthening their bilateral cooperation, as set out in the Joint Statement of 28 April 2022. Switzerland and the UK pursue similar foreign policy objectives in a variety of international forums, including the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Council of Europe. In the last few years cooperation has concentrated on the following fields:

  • promotion of human security
  • conflict prevention and peacebuilding measures
  • worldwide abolition of the death penalty
  • regulation of private military and security companies
  • prevention of the spread of weapons of mass destruction
  • prevention of sexual violence in conflicts

Swiss and British parliamentarians engage in active dialogue and regularly exchange views on various topics of mutual interest. One special event is the traditional annual parliamentarians' ski week in Davos.

Treaty database

Joint Statement

Economic cooperation

Switzerland and the UK are major trading partners and have close economic ties. Liberal economic systems and open markets are high priorities for both countries. Negotiations on the modernisation of the bilateral trade agreement have been under way since May 2023.

The UK is a very important economic partner for Switzerland. In 2022 the two countries traded CHF 20 billion in goods and CHF 24 billion in services, and enjoyed high levels of investment (CHF 70 billion in the UK at the end of 2021, CHF 40 billion in Switzerland). Both Switzerland and the UK have large financial centres. Accordingly, there are regular exchanges between supervisory authorities, central banks and banking associations. In December 2023, Switzerland and the UK signed an agreement in Bern on mutual recognition in the area of financial services, known as the Berne Financial Services Agreement. In its approach and scope, this agreement is unique worldwide.

Trade promotion, Switzerland Global Enterprise

British–Swiss Chamber of Commerce

Country information, SECO

Cooperation in education, research and innovation

The UK is an important partner for Switzerland in the areas of education, research and innovation. In 2022, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the aim of further strengthening close cooperation in the areas of research, innovation and start-up financing. Based on the MoU, regular meetings of the Joint Swiss–British Committee for Science and Innovation as well as activities of various stakeholders take place.

Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars and Artists, SERI

Swiss nationals in the United Kingdom

According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, there were 40,183 Swiss citizens living in the UK at the end of 2023.

In addition to the Swiss embassy in London, Switzerland has an honorary consulate-general in Edinburgh and honorary consulates in Manchester, Belfast, Cardiff, Bermuda, Gibraltar and the Cayman Islands. 

Cultural exchanges

Switzerland and the UK have long-standing close cultural ties. Switzerland promotes cultural links, exchanges and partnerships between the two countries. It works closely with other national promotion agencies and cultural organisations to promote an integrated understanding of Switzerland and the Swiss cultural landscape and showcase its diversity and attractiveness throughout the UK. Switzerland is regularly represented at the most important festivals and art fairs in the UK.


Swiss Cultural Fund UK

Pro Helvetia

History of bilateral relations

The two states established diplomatic relations in 1891. During the Second World War, Switzerland represented British interests in Germany, Japan, Italy, France, China and other countries. In 1960, Switzerland and the UK founded together with some other European states the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

Relations between Switzerland and the British Isles date back to the early Middle Ages when British monks came to Switzerland as missionaries. Contacts between Switzerland and England took place from the 15th century in the form of Swiss mercenaries serving under the English flag. The Swiss mountains and lakes have always held a special fascination for many Britons. In 1863, a British travel agency carried out the first organised tour to Switzerland. This paved the way for tourism in Switzerland and at the same time provided an incentive for the construction of the railway network in Switzerland. British tourists still account for the third-largest group of foreign visitors to Switzerland today.

United Kingdom, Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (de, fr, it):

Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland, Dodis