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COVID-19 – Global travel advisory
Effective date: March 13, 2020
Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.
This advisory overrides other risk levels on this page, with the exception of any risk levels for countries or regions where we advise to avoid all travel.
Switzerland - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Switzerland.
Safety and security
COVID-19 - Preventative measures and restrictions
Preventative measures and restrictions are in place and may vary according to the cantons or cities. You must wear a face covering in most closed public spaces, including on public transportation.
If you violate the restrictions, you could be fined for endangering public health.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities related to physical distancing
- Avoid crowded areas
COVID-19 Response - Federal Office of Public Health
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs in most public areas, particularly in Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Bern. Pickpockets are active in public places, such as airports and railway stations.
Thieves often operate in teams of 2, with one distracting the traveller while another snatches any valuables.
Theft of items from vehicles can occur at gas stations and service areas along the highway, as well as in parking lots.
- Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- Don't put any valuables or identification in the overhead storage compartments of trains; keep them with you at all times
- Exercise caution on trains, especially on overnight trips to neighbouring countries
- 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
Please note that some police stations might charge a fee for the issuance of a police report.
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. There is a potential for other violent incidents.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
Local authorities may raise the terrorism alert level and increase security in major cities to coincide with high-profile international conferences. Monitor local media for the latest information and follow the advice of local authorities.
Road conditions and road safety are very good throughout the country.
Driving conditions may be hazardous during winter. Many roads are mountainous and winding.
Dial 140 for roadside assistance.
Information on snow chain requirements
Demonstrations take place from time to time. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
If you intend on mountaineering or skiing:
- never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- get the appropriate equipment (clothing, protection, avalanche safety gear)
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- ensure that you’re properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to your starting point
- know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails or slopes
Information on weather and safety conditions:
Natural disasters and climate
General safety information
Information on disaster preparedness and emergency situations - Federal Office for Civil Protection
COVID-19 - Entry requirements
Travellers arriving from Canada are not allowed entry to Switzerland. However, certain travellers may be allowed entry if they can prove the essential nature of their travel or if they meet specific criteria.
It is your responsibility to verify this information with the appropriate foreign diplomatic office and to ask if you may be allowed entry, based on your individual circumstances and your itinerary.
Local authorities may impose additional requirements without notice and your travel plans could be severely disrupted. You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance related to changes to your travel plans.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Swiss authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Switzerland is a Schengen area country. Canadian citizens do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area. However, visa-free travel only applies to stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country.
If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for a longer period of time, you will need a visa. You must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa(s) prior to travel.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you expect to leave the Schengen area.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
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-day period begins upon initial entry into any country of the Schengen area. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country within any 180-day period.
Other entry requirements
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds for your stay.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Pandemic COVID-19 all countries: avoid non-essential travel outside Canada - January 16, 2021
- Global Measles Notice - July 23, 2019
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional 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. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
- Tick-borne encephalitis is present in some areas of this country.
- It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
- It is spread to humans by the bite of infected ticks or when you consume unpasteurized milk products.
- Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks during outdoor activities.
- A vaccine against TBE does exist but is only available in countries where the disease is present.
- Learn more on what you can do to prevent tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)?
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
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.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* 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.
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
In some areas in Western Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, and West Nile virus.
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.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
Medical services and facilities
COVID-19 - Testing facilities
Consult the following links to find out where you can get a COVID-19 test:
Local COVID-19 testing facilities - Federal Office of Public Health
Health care is excellent. Service is available throughout the country. Immediate cash payment is required. Medical and hospitalization costs are considerably more expensive in Switzerland than in Canada.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
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 and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Canada and Switzerland are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (Council of Europe). This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Switzerland to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Swiss authorities.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Switzerland.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Switzerland, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
Canadians with dual citizenship or who are eligible for Swiss citizenship may be subject to compulsory military service and other aspects of Swiss law.
Check your status at a Swiss embassy or consulate prior to departure.
Foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada
You must be at least 18 years old to drive in Switzerland. A Canadian driver’s licence or an International Driving Permit is required in order to drive in Switzerland for up to 12 months. A Swiss driver’s licence is required for stays longer than 12 months.
Highway travel requires the purchase of a sticker or “vignette,” which must be affixed to the vehicle’s windshield. A sticker valid for one year can be purchased at most border crossing points, tourist offices, gas stations along highways and post offices. Drivers using the highway system without the sticker are subject to hefty fines levied on the spot.
The right of way is given to vehicles entering an intersection from the right, unless otherwise indicated. Familiarize yourself with local driving rules and regulations before renting a car in Switzerland.
It is compulsory for all vehicles to be equipped with a safety kit, yellow vestsand a warning triangle, in case of breakdown.
In winter, snow tires are required; snow chains may be required as well in some mountain areas.
The use of headlights is requiredat all timeswhen driving, including during daytime hours and inside tunnels.
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 their driving licence may be confiscated immediately.
Radar detectors are prohibited.
The use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited, unless they are fitted with a hands-free device.
- More about the International Driving Permit
- International driving licence – Swiss authorities
- Information on road safety and regulations - European Commission
The currency of Switzerland is the Swiss franc (CHF).
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.
Cash controls information - European Commission
Natural disasters and climate
Avalanches present a risk year round in mountainous areas, where the weather can be unpredictable. Always carefully follow the advice of local authorities.
Latest avalanche warnings - WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF
Heavy rains may occur in the spring and summer and may result in flooding.
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
Bern - Embassy of Canada
Geneva - Permanent Mission of Canada to the Office of the United Nations
For emergency consular assistance, call the embassy of Canada in Bern 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 in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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