International Travel

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Country Information

Switzerland

Switzerland
Swiss Confederation
Exercise normal precautions in Switzerland.

Exercise normal precautions in Switzerland. 

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Switzerland:

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Embassy Messages
Alerts
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:


At least six months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


1 page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Not required for stays of less than 90 days

VACCINATIONS:


No legal requirement

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


No restrictions; officers may question over 10,000 Swiss Francs (CHF)

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


No restrictions; officers may question over 10,000 Swiss Francs (CHF)

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Bern

Sulgeneckstrasse 19
3007 Bern, Switzerland
Mailing address:
Postfach 3259, 3001 Bern, Switzerland
Emergency Telephone: + (41) (31) 357-7011
Fax: + (41) (31) 357-7280
Contact form
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/USBotschaftBern
Twitter: https://twitter.com/USEmbassyBern
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. Additional information is available on the Embassy’s website. Please schedule an appointment through the online appointment system for U.S. Citizens Services.

When calling from within Switzerland, drop the country code and add a zero. For example: + (41) (31) 357-7011 becomes 031 357-7011.

Consular Agencies

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
Emergency Telephone: + (41) (31) 357-7011
Contact Form

U.S. Consular Agency Zurich
Zurich America Center
Dufourstrasse 101
8008 Zurich, Switzerland
Mailing address:
P.O. Box 3259, 3001 Bern, Switzerland
Emergency Telephone: + (41) (31) 357-7011
Contact Form

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Switzerland for information on U.S. - Switzerland relations and read our Top Tips for Americans Visiting Switzerland.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Visit the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington, D.C. website for the most current visa information.

  • Switzerland is a party to the Schengen Agreement. U.S. citizens may enter the Schengen area without a visa for up to 90 days for tourism, business trips, or transit to non-Schengen destinations. Travelers should confirm with Switzerland’s Embassy or consulates in the United States whether they require a visa for their specific purpose of travel. To work or study in Switzerland, a visa is required.
  • Your passport needs to be valid for at least another six months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area. Switzerland strictly enforces the passport validity requirements and travelers without sufficient passport validity are denied entry and returned to their point of departure.
  • You also need to be able to show sufficient funds and a return airline ticket.
  • For additional details about travel to and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Switzerland.

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

Please review the Department of State’s Travel Advisory for Switzerland. The Travel Advisory for Switzerland is currently at Level 1 – Exercise normal precautions. There is some risk in any international travel. Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time.

Please review the most recent Worldwide Caution, which provides U.S. citizens with general information regarding terrorist activities, political violence, and criminal activity that transpire abroad, as well as specific recommendations on how to prepare for possible contingencies, receive information on breaking security events, and ensure that travelers can be contacted in an emergency.

As terrorist attacks, political violence (including demonstrations), criminal activities, and other security incidents often take place without any warning, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and practice good situational awareness when traveling abroad. Extremists may use conventional or non-conventional weapons to target U.S. government and private interests. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods, including the use of edged weapons, pistols, and vehicles as weapons, to effectively target crowds. Extremists increasingly aim to assault "soft" targets, such as high-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.), hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, parks, shopping malls and markets, tourism infrastructure, public transportation systems and airports.

Demonstrations occur regularly in Switzerland, especially in the capital Bern and major cities such as Geneva and Zurich. Demonstrations take place for a variety of political and economic issues.

  • Demonstration organizers must obtain prior police approval and police routinely monitor demonstrations.
  • Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.
  • Avoid demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.
  • Monitor media and local information sources as well as Embassy Bern’s safety and security webpage, and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Address specific safety concerns to Swiss law enforcement authorities.

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.

  • Do not leave bags unattended. Most reported thefts occur at crowded tourist sites, at airports, car rental agencies, on public buses, trams and trains, and at the major railway stations.
  • Visitors to congested and popular tourist areas (e.g., museums, monuments, train stations, airports, and subways) should be particularly attentive to their surroundings.
  • Be alert to criminal schemes. Organized groups of pick-pockets operate at major tourist sites and when conferences, festivals, shows, or exhibitions occur. Thieves frequently work in pairs. One member of the pair creates a disturbance while the other steals your belongings.
  • While the incidence of sexual assault is statistically low, attacks do occur. See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

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.

We can:

  • Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • Help you find appropriate medical care
  • Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • Explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • Provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support if you are destitute
  • Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • Replace a stolen or lost passport

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.

Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

For further information:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be fined, expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Your U.S. passport will not prevent you from being detained, arrested, or prosecuted.

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.

Alpine hazards: Switzerland is a popular destination for outdoor sports enthusiasts, including skiing, hiking, and mountain climbing. Although Swiss 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. There is an expectation that people use common sense and caution when enjoying the outdoors.

You should:

  • Stay on designated paths or slopes
  • Follow the advice given by local authorities and guides
  • Take note of weather forecasts and conditions
  • Be in a team of two when participating in mountain activities
  • Inform someone of your plans and anticipated time of return

Alpine hazards such as avalanches and snowdrifts, landslides and flooding, glacial crevasses, falling rocks, sun exposure, and sudden weather changes are common year-round. 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.

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 these webpages for more information:

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations 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 make access difficult, but the 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.

Health
Dial 144 to connect to emergency medical services, or dial 117 for the police.

Medical care is comparable to that found in the United States.

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. For hospitalizations 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, many do not. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance (our webpage) to cover medical evacuation.

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:

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Traffic Safety: Road conditions are generally excellent, but traffic engineering and driving habits pose special dangers.

  • Lane markings and sign placements may differ from those in the United States. Drivers should be prepared to make last-minute maneuvers and stops.
  • Be aware that pedestrians, bikers and trams generally have the right-of-way.
  • In alpine areas roads may become dangerous due to snowfall, ice, or avalanches. Some mountain roads may close for extended periods.
  • In some mountain areas, vehicle snow chains are required in the winter.
  • Roundabouts are very common in Switzerland.
  • The maximum speed limit on motorways is 120 km/h, on expressways it is 100 km/h, on roads outside urban areas it is 80 km/h, and in urban areas it is 50 km/h.

See our Road Safety page for more information.

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 ask 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.

  • The minimum age to operate a motor vehicle in Switzerland is 18.
  • The maximum allowable blood-alcohol content in the Switzerland is 0.05 percent (0.5 per mille).
  • All vehicles are required to travel with their headlights on at all times.
  • Use of cellular telephones for talking or texting while driving is prohibited.
  • Right-of-way rules differ from those in the United States. Unless specifically indicated otherwise, drivers entering intersections from the right have priority over those on the left, even when entering relatively large boulevards from small side streets.
  • Turning right on red is illegal.
  • The maximum speed limit on motorways is 120 km/h, on expressways it is 100 km/h, on roads outside urban areas it is 80 km/h, and in urban areas it is 50 km/h.
  • Speeding fines vary between 20 and 300 U.S. dollars. If you exceed the speed limit significantly or engage in reckless driving the traffic violation can be referred to the public prosecutor. It is common that the public prosecutor imposes a monetary deposit/bail for foreign visitors, which can be over 1,000 U.S. dollars. Please note that a traffic violation that is referred to the prosecutor will incur significant cost aside from the actual fine.

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.

  • Travelers must purchase train, bus or tram tickets and validate them by punching them in validating machines prior to boarding (usually near the entrance of the train or tram or on the bus). Tickets cannot be bought on the train, bus, or tram. Failure to follow this procedure may result in an on-the-spot fine by an inspector. If the violator does not pay the fine on the spot, it will automatically double.
  • Be aware of pick-pockets and do not leave bags unattended. Most reported thefts occur on public buses, trams and trains, and at the major railway stations.

For more information visit the website of the Swiss Federal Office of Transport (FOT), which is responsible public transport in Switzerland.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) assessed the government of Switzerland’s Civil Aviation Authority to be 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.

Last Updated: September 18, 2018
Travel Advisory Levels

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Bern
Sulgeneckstrasse 19
CH-3007 Bern, Switzerland
Telephone
+(41) (31) 357-7011
Emergency
+(41) (31) 357-7011
Fax
+(41) (31) 357-7280
Switzerland Map