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Switzerland - Take normal security precautions
Take normal security precautions in Switzerland.
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.
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorists have carried out attacks in several European cities and further attacks are likely.
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. Be particularly vigilant if attending sporting events and during religious holidays and other public celebrations, as terrorists have used such occasions to mount attacks.
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.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
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.
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.
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. 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.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
- Measles in Europe - December 5, 2017
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 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 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.
* 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
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 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.
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.
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.
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. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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