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Switzerland - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Switzerland. Exercise normal security precautions.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Petty crime has increased and occurs in most public areas, particularly in Berne, Zurich and Geneva. Pickpockets are active in public places, such as airports and railway stations. Exercise caution on trains, especially on overnight trips to neighbouring countries.
Thieves often operate in tandem, with one distracting the traveller while another snatches any valuables.
Never leave bags containing money, airline tickets, credit cards or passports in the trunk of a parked car and do not leave anything on car seats.
The alertswiss portal (in French only) gathers essential information regarding disaster preparedness and emergency situations in Switzerland and provides guidance on how to behave. Exercise caution, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities and there is a potential for other violent incidents, which could target areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Continue to exercise normal security precautions.
Although many roads are mountainous and winding, road conditions and safety standards are very good. In winter, snow tires are required and snow chains may be required as well in some mountain areas.
Demonstrations occur periodically throughout the country. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings as they have the potential to suddenly turn violent, follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor local media.
Public transportation is excellent.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
If you intend to do mountaineering or ski touring:
a) never practice these activities alone;
b) always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company;
c) buy travel health insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation;
d) ensure you are in top physical condition;
e) advise a family member or friend of your itinerary and when you expect to be back;
f) know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal;
g) register with the Embassy of Canada in Switzerland; and
h) obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out.
Special avalanche beacons can be purchased or rented to help searchers locate buried victims.
You are advised to visit the Switzerland Tourism website for information on weather and safety conditions.
General safety information
Exercise normal safety precautions. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance and 140 for roadside assistance.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Swiss authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of Switzerland or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit the Schengen area, which must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return ticket and proof of sufficient funds for your stay.
Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days*
Business visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days*
Student visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days*
* The 90 days begin upon initial entry into any country of the Schengen area.
The following 26 countries comprise the Schengen Area: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The Schengen area has common rules regarding visas and controls at external borders and has abolished checks within the area’s internal borders. However, some Schengen area countries may require that you register with local authorities shortly after your arrival, particularly when staying in private accommodations.
Canadians do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any country within the Schengen area.
It is important to get your passport stamped when you first enter the Schengen area. The absence of an entry stamp from the initial Schengen port of entry could create difficulties during subsequent encounters with local police or other authorities throughout the Schengen area or at the time of departure from the area.
If you overstay the permitted 90 days in the Schengen area, you may be fined or deported. If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for longer than the 90 days in any 180-day period, you must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa prior to travel.
The European Commission’s (EC's) Migration and Home Affairs provides additional information and a calculator of travel days remaining, taking into account previous stays in the Schengen area.
The Schengen Borders Code allows member states to temporarily reintroduce internal border controls in the event that a serious threat to public policy or internal security has been established. Canadians wishing to enter a Schengen area country that has reintroduced internal border controls could be required to present a passport, valid for at least three months from the time of expected departure from that country. For additional information, visit the EC’s Temporary Reintroduction of Border Control.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
- Measles: Global Update - July 16, 2015 00:00 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks (e.g., those participating in outdoor activities in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Good medical care is widely available. Immediate cash payment is required. Medical and hospitalization costs are considerably more expensive in Switzerland than in Canada. It is recommended that you purchase supplemental health insurance.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Switzerland. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Swiss citizen. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Canadians with dual citizenship or who are eligible for Swiss citizenship may be subject to compulsory military service and other aspects of Swiss law.
Canadians should check their status at a Swiss embassy or consulate.
You must be at least 18 years old to drive in Switzerland. You can drive with a Canadian driver’s licence, but you are advised to obtain an International Driving Permit in order to meet the requirements of some car rental agencies.
It is compulsory for all vehicles to be equipped with a warning triangle in case of breakdown.
Radar detectors are prohibited.
The use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited, unless they are fitted with a hands-free device.
Highway travel requires the purchase of a sticker ("vignette"), which must be affixed to the car's windshield. Stickers can be purchased - valid for a year at a cost of 40 Swiss francs - at most border crossing points, tourist offices, gas stations along highways, and post offices, as well as at the Swiss TravelSystem website. Drivers using the highway system without the sticker are subject to hefty fines levied on the spot.
Note that right of way is given to vehicles entering an intersection from the right unless otherwise indicated. Please consult local driving rules and regulations before renting a car in Switzerland.
Penalties for drinking and driving are strict. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05 percent. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines or jail sentences, and driving licences may be confiscated immediately.
The currency of Switzerland is the Swiss franc (CHF).
Swiss shops and facilities accept euros as payment, but change is returned in Swiss francs.
Automated banking machines (ABMs) are known as Bancomat.
When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000, or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the web page of the European Commission on cash controls.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
Avalanches present a risk year round. The weather in mountainous areas can be unpredictable. Always carefully follow the advice of local authorities.
Heavy rains may occur in the spring and summer and may result in flooding.
Bern - Embassy of Canada
Geneva - Permanent Mission of Canada to the Office of the United Nations
For emergency assistance, call the embassy of Canada in Berne or, if you are in the canton of Geneva, the Permanent Mission, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre located in Ottawa.
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