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Switzerland - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Switzerland. Exercise normal security precautions.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Petty crime occurs in most public areas, particularly in Bern, 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.
Theft of items from vehicles can occur at gas stations and service areas along the highway, as well as in parking lots.
On November 21, 2016, the U.S. Department of State issued a Travel Alert for Europe, alerting U.S. citizens to the “heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, particularly during the holiday season” and advising them to “exercise vigilance when attending large holiday events, visiting tourist sites, using public transportation, and frequenting places of worship, restaurants, hotels, etc.”
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.
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.
Although many roads are mountainous and winding, road conditions and safety standards are very good.
Driving may become dangerous in mountainous areas during the winter months. Consult Laws & culture for information on snow chain requirements.
Dial 140 for roadside assistance.
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 on mountaineering or skiing:
- never practice these activities alone;
- always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company;
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation;
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity;
- advise a family member or friend of your itinerary and when you expect to be back to camp;
- know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal;
- sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service; and
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out and do not venture away from marked trails or slopes.
Special avalanche beacons can be purchased or rented to help searchers locate buried victims.
Visit Switzerland Tourism as well as the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research’s Avalanche bulletin for information on weather and safety conditions. Consult Natural disasters and climate for more information.
General safety information
Exercise normal safety precautions. Ensure that your personal belongings, including passports and other travel documents, are secure at all times.
Alertswiss (in French, Italian and German only) provides essential information regarding disaster preparedness and emergency situations in Switzerland and guidance on how to behave. Exercise caution, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
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.
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds for your stay.
Switzerland is a Schengen area country. Upon arrival, Canadians are required to present a passport that must be valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected departure from the Schengen area. 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.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives 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.
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.
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. 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. For more information, see Schengen area.
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 28, 2016 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
Excellent medical care is widely available. Immediate cash payment is required. Medical and hospitalization costs are considerably more expensive in Switzerland than in Canada. You should purchase supplemental health insurance to avoid large medical expenses.
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
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
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.
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 always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Swiss passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). 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 prior to departure.
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. Consult the Swiss authorities’ International driving licence page for details.
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.
Note that 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 and 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 required when 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.
Additional information regarding road safety can be found on the European Commission’s Mobility and Transport.
The currency used in Switzerland is the Swiss franc (CHF).
Automated banking machines, known as bancomat in Switzerland, are widely available.
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 country sites, visit the European Commission’s cash controls website.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
Avalanches present a risk year round in mountainous areas, where the weather can be unpredictable. Always carefully follow the advice of local authorities.
Consult the Swiss Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research for weather and avalanche risk information.
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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