Travel.State.Gov > International Travel > Learn About Your Destination > Switzerland International Travel Information
3007 Bern, Switzerland
Mailing address: P.O. 3259, 3001 Bern, Switzerland
Emergency Telephone: + (41) (31) 357-7011
Fax: + (41) (31) 357-7280
The Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy provides routine and emergency services for U.S. citizens. The Embassy requires appointments for routine consular services. Please schedule appointments through the online appointment system for U.S. Citizens Services. Additional information is available on the Embassy’s website, Facebook, and Twitter.
When calling from within Switzerland, drop the country code and add a zero. For example: + 41 31 357-7011 becomes 031 357-7011.
There are two part-time consular agencies in Switzerland. They provide limited services to U.S. citizens by appointment only. Please visit our website for more information on available services.
U.S. Consular Agency Geneva
Geneva America Center
Rue Francois-Versonnex 7
1207 Geneva, Switzerland
Mailing address: P.O. Box 3259, 3001 Bern, Switzerland
U.S. Consular Agency Zurich
Zurich America Center
8008 Zurich, Switzerland
Mailing address: P.O. Box 3259, 3001 Bern, Switzerland
See the Department of State’s website www.state.gov for information on U.S. - Switzerland relations and read our Top Tips for Americans Visiting Switzerland.
Visit the website of the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington, D.C. for the most current visa information.
Traveling Through Europe: If you are planning to visit or travel through European countries, you should be familiar with the requirements of the Schengen Agreement.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors or foreign residents in Switzerland.
Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.
Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack – including knives, firearms, and vehicles – to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency number in Europe, including Switzerland, is “112.” You can also directly dial 144 for medical emergencies, 117 for the police, and 118 for the fire department.
Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.
Crime: The majority of crimes directed against foreign visitors, including U.S. citizens, involve pick-pocketing, vehicle break-ins, bicycle theft, and other forms of theft.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 117, and contact the U.S. Embassy at +41 31 357-7011. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
Alpine hazards: Switzerland is a popular destination for outdoor sports enthusiasts, including skiing, hiking, and mountain climbing. Alpine hazards such as avalanches and snowdrifts, landslides and flooding, glacial crevasses, falling rocks, sun exposure, and sudden weather changes are common year-round. Although safety standards are excellent, visitors need to be aware that public safety warnings are not comparable to those found in the United States. While hiking paths and ski slopes are clearly marked, not all possibly hazardous situations will have clear warning signs. People are expected to use common sense and caution when enjoying the outdoors.
Mountain rescues can be extremely expensive and we recommend that you have sufficient insurance coverage that includes coverage for mountain search and rescue. See our website for more information on overseas insurance coverage. The non-profit foundation Swiss Air Rescue Organization (REGA) offers a membership that waives the costs of rescue missions; many Swiss citizens are members and U.S. citizens are able to join as well.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance. Local organizations offer counseling and assistance for victims of crime.
International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules with regard to best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Swiss Banking: Most major credit cards are widely accepted, but many vendors will only accept chip-and-PIN cards. ATMs are widely available and accept U.S. debit cards. Numerous banks do not accept U.S. citizens as clients. Please see the Embassy’s website for more information on banking in Switzerland.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex relationships or the organization of LGBTI events in Switzerland.
See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While in Switzerland, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Many sidewalks are narrow and uneven, and cobblestone streets can make access difficult, but most major tourist areas have better facilities. Please see the website of the Swiss National Tourist Office for more information.
Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
For emergency services in Switzerland dial 144, or 117 for the police.
Medical care is comparable to that found in the United States. Ambulance services are widely available.
The U.S. government does not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. Swiss medical facilities and care providers will ask for you to settle your bills onsite and you will have to claim a refund with your insurer later. It is common for hospitals to ask for a deposit to ensure medical costs will be covered.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
Medications: Over-the-counter medicine is available at pharmacies and a pharmacist is on call 24/7. Information regarding the pharmacy and pharmacist on duty in your area can be obtained over the medical emergency telephone line by dialing 144. If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Swiss Federal Customs Administration to ensure the medication is legal in Switzerland. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Road Conditions and Traffic Safety: Road conditions are generally excellent, but traffic, engineering, and driving habits pose special dangers.
Accidents: In the event of a traffic accident, call the police immediately at 117. Call 118 for the fire department and 144 for medical/ambulance services. 144 functions as the equivalent to the “911” emergency number in the United States.
Toll roads: If you plan to drive on motorways in Switzerland you must purchase a toll sticker (vignette), which must be affixed to the car’s windshield. These are available online, at gas stations, and at border crossings. Rental cars usually have a vignette already; be sure to check with your car rental agency. Failure to comply with traffic rules can result in large fines. For more information visist the website of the Swiss Federal Customs Administration.
Traffic Laws and Fines: While driving in Switzerland you are subject to local traffic laws.
See the website of the Swiss National Tourism Office or the website of the Confederation of Swiss Cantons and Communes for additional information.
Driving in Switzerland: You may drive in Switzerland with your valid U.S. license for up to one year after your arrival; then you must obtain a Swiss permit. Swiss licenses are only issued on the basis of valid U.S. licenses. Holders of expired U.S. licenses must take the Swiss driving test when applying for a Swiss license. The minimum age for driving or learning to drive is 18. Liability insurance on motor vehicles is compulsory in Switzerland and must be provided by a Swiss insurance company.
Public Transportation: Public transport in Switzerland is excellent, punctual, and safe. The websites of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and the Swiss National Tourist Office are the best places to obtain information on fares and timetables.
For more information visit the website of the Swiss Federal Office of Transport (FOT), which is responsible for public transport in Switzerland.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) assessed the government of Switzerland’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Switzerland’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.