Situated in western, central and southern Europe, Switzerland is one of the most developed countries in the world. It is officially known as the Swiss Confederation and ranks at the top globally, in several metrics of national performance.
The country has an area of 41,285 km2 and a population of 8,508,898. It does not have an official capital, but the city of Bern is its de jure capital. Its two largest cities Zürich and Geneva are global cities and economic centres.
Switzerland is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association; however, it is not part of the European Union. It joined the Schengen Area in 2008 since when on, world travellers can enter its territory with a Schengen visa.
In 2017, Switzerland issued a total of 451,528 uniform Schengen visas from 517,010 visa applications received at Swiss consulates and embassies around the world. The visa rejection rate was 7.25%.
Fun fact: Switzerland has not been involved in any wars since 1815!
Switzerland Entry Restrictions in Response to Coronavirus
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Switzerland, as well as the rest of the EU and Schengen Area members imposed an EU-wide entry ban on third-country nationals in mid-March 2020. With the improved epidemiological situation in the EU and abroad, Switzerland has lifted the entry ban for a few countries and several categories of travellers.
Read “Travel Restrictions: Who Can Enter Switzerland & What Are the Rules” to get the latest updates regarding Switzerland entry restrictions and other measures imposed by Swiss authorities.
Switzerland Entry Requirements
Because of the common travel area of the Schengen Zone, the member states of which have abolished borders for their citizens, if you are an EU/EEA national, you will only need an identification document to enter Switzerland.
Whereas, if you are a non-EU/EEA traveller wishing to visit Switzerland, you will need to present the following, when you show up at the Swiss port of entry:
- A passport or travel document. Valid for at least three more months beyond your planned date of exit from Schengen, and issued within the last 10 years.
- A visa – if you are subject to the Swiss visa regime.
*British passport holders are exempt from the criteria of passport validity and issuance date.
Aside from these documents, the Swiss border officer may ask you a few questions about your trip to Switzerland like:
- What is your purpose of visiting Switzerland?
- How long do you intend to stay in Switzerland?
- Where are you going to stay in Switzerland? Etc.
Keep in mind that the border police holds the final decision if you shall be permitted to enter Switzerland or not. If the Swiss border officer concludes that you are no risk for Switzerland, upon checking your documents, you will be permitted to enter Switzerland, and thus the Schengen territory.
Please, make sure that the Swiss border officer stamps your passport when you enter Switzerland. Without a stamp, you could be fined or detained from Switzerland.
Who Needs a Visa to Enter Switzerland?
You will need a short-stay visa to enter Switzerland and any other member country of the Schengen zone, if you belong to one of the following categories:
- You are the national of a third-world country that has not reached a visa liberalization agreement with the Schengen states
- You are the national of a third-world country that has signed a visa liberalization agreement with the Schengen states, but you were previously rejected from entering Switzerland or any other Schengen country.
Please note that these visas permit you to stay in Switzerland for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. If you need a visa to stay in Switzerland for a longer period, apply for a Swiss National Visa instead.
What Documents Are Required for a Switzerland Visa Application?
As a traveller in need of a visa, you will have to meet several Switzerland visa requirements in order to complete your application. The statutory Switzerland visa requirements are as follows:
- Swiss visa application form. Complete the form with correct information in compliance with the information in the rest of the documents. Here you can easily learn how to fulfil the form without any mistakes!
- Two passport photos. The photos should be identical and comply with the photograph requirements for the Swiss Schengen visa application.
- Your national passport. Valid for at least 3 months beyond the return date, no older than 10 years, and containing at least two blank pages.
- Copies of your previous visas. If you have ever held a visa to Switzerland, the Schengen territory or another country in the world, provide the embassy/consulate with copies of those visas.
- Schengen travel visa insurance. Purchase travel medical insurance valid for Switzerland and the whole territory of the Schengen Area, with a minimum coverage of €30,000 for medical emergencies.
Travel health insurance policies for foreigners travelling to Switzerland that fulfil Swiss Schengen Visa requirements can be purchased online from AXA Assistance or Europ Assistance. Both companies are accepted by Swiss authorities worldwide.
- Round-trip Flight Itinerary. A document that shows you have a booked flight, to enter and leave Switzerland. This document should specify flight numbers, dates, and your details.
- Proof of accommodation. I.e. a hotel reservation.
- Proof of civil status. This could be a marriage certificate, birth certificate of children, death certificate of spouse, etc.
- Proof of sufficient financial means for the period of stay in Switzerland. You must be able to attest owning at least 100 CHF or 92.34€/day on your disposition during your stay in Switzerland, while, in case you are a student this amount reduces to 30 CHF or 27.70€/day.
- A cover letter. A personal letter in which you explain why you are applying to visit Switzerland, how long you plan to stay, when will you leave and other details.
Additional Swiss Visa Requirements Based on Your Employment Status
The additional Switzerland visa requirements depending on your occupational status are as follows:
- Employment contract
- Current bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Leave permission from the employer
- Income Tax Return (ITR) form
- A copy of your business license
- Company bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Income Tax Return (ITR)
If a student:
- Proof of enrollment
- No-objection certificate from school or university
- Pension statement of the latest 6 months
- Proof of regular income generated by a property, for the last 6 months
Additional Swiss Visa Requirements for Minors
Minors applying to get a short-stay visa to Switzerland, or parents applying for their minor child to get a visa, will need to complete the following additional Swiss Visa Requirements in their application file:
- Birth certificate of the minor travelling to Switzerland.
- Switzerland application form signed by both parents.
- Family court order. In cases where only one parent has full custody of the child.
- Certified copies of ID/passport of both parents
- If the minor will be travelling alone with another person:
- An original and copy of the accompanying person’s passport page containing the holder’s data, expiry date, a recent photograph and a valid visa copy.
- A notarized parental authorization to travel to Switzerland, signed by both parents/guardians
*Note: When applying at the Swiss embassy/consulate in the home country, the guardian or parent should accompany their underage children.
Additional Requirements Based on the Purpose of Entry to Switzerland
According to your purpose of entry to Switzerland, you will need to provide some additional documents. Following find the additional Switzerland visa requirements based on your purpose of travelling to Switzerland.
Switzerland Airport Transit Visa Requirements
If you need to land at a Swiss airport in order to wait in the international area of the airport for a connecting flight that will take you to your non-Schengen destination country, you will need to apply for a Switzerland Airport Transit Visa.
Required Documents for an Airport Transit Schengen Visa to Switzerland
When applying to obtain a Switzerland Airport Transit visa, you must provide the following additional documents:
- A valid visa (if needed) for the final country one is travelling to.
- The flight ticket for the final country you are travelling to.
Switzerland Tourist Visa Requirements
If you are travelling to Switzerland for tourism purposes, like vacations or sightseeing, then you should apply for a Switzerland Tourist visa for short stays.
Required Documents for a Tourist Schengen Visa to Switzerland
When applying to obtain a Swiss Tourist visa, you must provide the following additional documents:
- Bank statement. Preferably for the last 6 months.
- Travel Itinerary. A description of your trip day-to-day.
- Proof of how you will be financing your trip to Switzerland.
Switzerland Visitor Visa Requirements
When applying for a short-stay visa to Switzerland, in order to visit a family member or a friend residing in Switzerland on their invitation, you will need to apply for a Swiss Visitor Visa.
Required Documents for a Schengen Visitor Visa to Switzerland
When applying to obtain a visa to visit your friends or relatives in Switzerland, you must provide the following additional documents:
- Duly signed invitation letter from the host. The invitation must contain the following details: name, first name, date of birth (exactly same as in the passport) for every invited person as well as the purpose and duration of the visit.
- Host’s passport, identity card or residence permit.
- Proof of relationship with the host residing in Switzerland.
Switzerland Business Visa Requirements
You wish to go to Switzerland for business purposes and will stay no longer than 90 days you should apply for a Business Schengen Visa to Switzerland.
Required Documents for a Business Schengen Visa to Switzerland
When applying to obtain a Swiss Business visa, you must provide the following additional documents:
- Invitation letter from the inviting company/organization in Switzerland with their detailed address accompanied with the dates of your visit.
- Proof of business ties with inviting company
- A letter from your employer. In this letter should be stated why you will be travelling to Switzerland.
- Proof of trip financing. Regarding the applicant’s expenses during their stay in Switzerland, either the employer or the partner company must state coverage of expenses on the letter or invitation.
Switzerland Study Visa Requirements
If you are planning to travel to Switzerland in order to attend a study course, training or internship that will last less than three months, then you are eligible to apply for a Schengen Study Visa to Switzerland.
Required Documents for a Student Schengen Visa to Switzerland
When applying to get a Swiss Student visa, you must provide the following additional documents:
- No objection letter from the educational institution where you are currently enrolled (if applicable).
- Internship agreement. Signed between the company in Switzerland, the establishment of origin and the trainee.
Switzerland Medical Visa Requirements
If you are planning to travel to Switzerland to receive health treatment, as medical therapies, to undergo surgery, etc., then you will have to apply for a Switzerland Medical visa prior to your trip.
Required Documents for a Medical Schengen Visa to Switzerland
When applying to get a visa to receive medical care in Switzerland, you must provide the following additional documents:
- Original letter from a local doctor stating diagnosis with a medical report.
- Confirmation from the Swiss hospital/doctor stating agreement to treat patient and expected duration of treatment with an estimate of costs.
- Proof of advance payment of 50 % – receipt from Swiss hospital/doctor.
Switzerland Cultural/Sports/Religious Events Visa Requirements
If you plan to travel to Switzerland for the sole purpose of attending an event related to culture, sports or religion or as a part of a film crew, then you will need to apply for a Switzerland Cultural/Sports/Religious Events Visa.
Required Documents for a Schengen Visa to Switzerland for Cultural, Sports, Film Crew or Religious Purposes
When applying to get a Swiss visa under the purpose of attending a Cultural / Sports / Religious Event in Switzerland you must provide the following additional documents:
Journeys undertaken to attend sports events:
- Original letter from sports association/federation.
- Proof of sporting ability. I.e. CV, world rankings, trophies, an invitation to the national team, national caps, evidence of personal records, etc.
Journeys undertaken to attend cultural events:
- Evidence of participation in cultural events:
- For recording: studio contract & transfer slip for the first instalment of studio fees.
- For festivals or concerts: detailed concert schedule, a contract stating duration and payment.
- For lessons: contract stating duration and payment.
- Introductory letter, musician card and proof of musical activities/performances.
Journeys undertaken for Film Crew:
- Letter from Film Company – specifying title, synopsis and shooting locations of the film.
- Complete list of names of travelling crew members along with their roles.
- Letter from an agency in Switzerland confirming arrangements for film permits.
- Certificate of registration with Association of Motion Pictures.
Switzerland Visa for Spouse of Swiss National Requirements
If you are the spouse (husband/wife) of a Swiss national, and you wish to come to Switzerland for a short-term visit, then you will need to apply for a special visa established solely for this category of visa applicants.
Required Documents for a Swiss Schengen Visa for the Wife/Husband of a Swiss Citizen
When applying to get a Swiss visa as the spouse of a Swiss national/citizen, you must provide the following additional documents:
- Proof of Swiss citizenship (ID card or consular card or certification of Swiss nationality or naturalization order).
- Swiss marriage certificate.
- Swiss family record book.
Switzerland Visa for Official Visit Requirements
If you are planning to travel to Switzerland as part of an official delegation representing the government of your country, an organization or another institution you will need to apply for a Swiss Schengen Visa for Members of Official Delegations.
Swiss Schengen Visa for Members of Official Delegations
When applying to get a Swiss visa as a member of an official delegation, you must provide the following additional documents:
- The official invitation copy.
- Evidence about the purpose of the journey (negotiations, meetings, events by intergovernmental organizations, consultations).
How to Apply for a Swiss Short-Stay Visa?
In order to complete the application process to obtain a short-stay visa to Switzerland, you must follow these steps:
- Figure out which visa type you to enter Switzerland.
- Check out where you need to submit your visa application.
- Complete the application form for a Swiss short-stay visa.
- Collect the documents required for a Switzerland visa.
- Make a visa appointment.
- Attend the interview at the appropriate Swiss Embassy/Consulate/VAC.
After completing the steps listed above, wait for the processing of your visa application.
Where to Apply for a Swiss Short-Stay Visa?
Where you need to apply depends a lot on how the Swiss authorities in your country of residence, have regulated visa admission. Based on that, you may have to apply at one of the following Switzerland representative diplomatic bodies in your country of residence:
- The Swiss Embassy
- A Swiss consulate
- A Visa Application Center to which Switzerland has outsourced visa submission
- The Embassy / Consulate of another Schengen country to which Switzerland has outsourced visa submission
Who Can Apply for a Schengen Visa at the Swiss Embassy/Consulate/VAC?
If Switzerland is the only country you plan on visiting within the Schengen Area, you should apply to the Switzerland representative body responsible for visa admission, located in your country of residence.
On the other hand, if you will visit more Schengen states, submit your application at the Swiss Embassy / Consulate / VAC only if
- You will be spending more days in Switzerland, than in the other countries.
- You will be spending an equal amount of days in each country, but you will enter the Schengen Zone through Switzerland.
In addition, you will be permitted to file a Switzerland short-stay visa application at a Swiss Embassy / Consulate / VAC only if you are a:
- A citizen of the country from where you are applying.
- A foreign citizen on a permanent/temporary residence permit in the country from where you are applying.
You cannot apply for a short-stay Swiss visa from a country in which you are currently on a visa.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Swiss Visa?
The processing time for a Switzerland short-stay visa may take up to 15 days. Still, according to your specific situation, this period may be extended up to 30 days. Exceptional cases may take up to 60 days, since the Swiss embassies may have to consult with other Schengen consulates.
To avoid any delay in the issuance of your Swiss short-stay visa, you should submit your application as soon as possible, though not earlier than three months before you travel to Switzerland.
How Much Does It Cost to Apply for a Swiss Visa?
The Ordinance on fees under the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals (SR 142.209) and the Visa Code stipulate the fees to be collected. The amounts are payable in the currency determined by the Swiss representation.
Swiss Short Term Visa Fees at a Glance:
|Swiss Schengen Visa Category
|Fee in EUR
|Fee in USD*
|Children between 6-12 years of age
|Children younger than 6 years of age
|Holders of diplomatic, official or service passports travelling for official purposes
|A family member of an EU/EEA national
|Pupils, students and accompanying teachers during a school trip
|Researchers travelling to perform scientific research
|Nationals from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia.
* The applicable visa fee in USD (US Dollar) is as per the current exchange rate. It is subject to change without notice.
The fee for the visa is due at the time the application is submitted and is not refundable. If you withdraw the application or it is rejected the fee will not be reimbursed.
The Swiss representation reserves the right to adapt the amounts of the fees at any time in relation to exchange rate fluctuations.
How Long Can We Stay in Switzerland Without a Visa?
If you are the national of a country that has not yet signed a visa-free agreement with the Schengen countries, you will be unable to enter Switzerland, or any other country (aside from transiting).
Whereas, if you are the national of a visa-exempt country, then you will be able to enter and remain in Switzerland and the other Schengen states for a maximum of 90 days, within a 6-month period.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you understand the 90/180 Schengen Visa Rule. Do not violate this rule, not even for one day, since you may face consequences for overstaying in the Schengen territory.
Can I Extend My Schengen Visa in Switzerland?
Yes, you can extend your Swiss Schengen visa, but only in exceptional cases where new facts and special reasons arise after entry in Switzerland, i.e. humanitarian reasons or force majeure.
Please read How to Extend a Schengen Visa in Switzerland to understand in what circumstances and under what conditions you can extend your Swiss Schengen Visa.
Can My Swiss Schengen Visa Be Revoked?
Yes, your Switzerland visa can be revoked, in case the competent Swiss authorities conclude that the conditions for issuing the visa are no longer met.
If you are in Switzerland when the decision on the revocation of your visa happens, you will be given a deadline to leave Switzerland. If you do not leave Switzerland or the territory of Schengen within this period, you will then be considered an illegal resident in Switzerland.
Please note that the failure of the visa holder to provide the border officer, with the entry requirements, may also lead to a decision to annul or revoke the visa, though not automatically.