SwitzerlandOfficial Name: Swiss Confederation
THE INFORMATION RELATING TO THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN COUNTRIES IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY AND MAY NOT BE TOTALLY ACCURATE IN A PARTICULAR CASE. QUESTIONS INVOLVING INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO FOREIGN ATTORNEYS. THIS CIRCULAR SEEKS ONLY TO PROVIDE INFORMATION; IT IS NOT AN OPINION ON ANY ASPECT OF U.S., FOREIGN, OR INTERNATIONAL LAW. THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DOES NOT INTEND BY THE CONTENTS OF THIS CIRCULAR TO TAKE A POSITION ON ANY ASPECT OF ANY PENDING LITIGATION.
Embassies and Consulates
3007 Bern, Switzerland
Telephone: +(41) (31) 357-7011 (2p.m. - 4 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(41) (31) 357-7777
Fax: +(41) (31) 357-7280
Routine and emergency services for U.S. citizens are provided by the American Citizens Services section of the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy. Appointments are required for routine consular services. Additional information is available through the U.S. citizen Services page on the Embassy’s website. To make an appointment, please visit the U.S. Embassy’s online appointment system for U.S. Citizen Services.
There are two part-time consular agencies in Switzerland. They provide limited services to U.S. citizens. Passport applications may be submitted at the agencies. However, the agencies are not authorized to issue passports and will forward the applications to U.S. Embassy in Bern for processing. Anyone requesting service at one of the consular agencies should email ahead to verify that the service requested will be available on the day to expect to visit the agency.
U.S. Consular Agency - Geneva
Geneva America Center, Rue François-Versonnex 7, 1207 Geneva
Mailing address: P.O. Box 5266, 3001 Bern Switzerland
Telephone: +(41) (22) 840-5160 (10 a.m. - 1 p.m.)
Fax: +(41) (22) 840-5162
U.S. Consular Agent - Zurich
Zurich America Center
8008 Zurich, Switzerland
Telephone: +(41) (43) 499-2960 (10 a.m. - 1 p.m.)
Fax: +(41) (43) 499-2961
List of Attorneys
Service of Process
Switzerland is a party to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters. Complete information on the operation of the Convention, including an interactive online request form are available on the Hague Conference website. Requests should be completed in duplicate and submitted with two sets of the documents to be served, and translations, directly toSwitzerland’s Central Authority for the Hague Service Convention. The person in the United States executing the request form should be either an attorney or clerk of court. The applicant should include the titles attorney at law or clerk of court on the identity and address of applicant and signature/stamp fields. In its Declarations and Reservations on the Hague Service Convention, Switzerland formally objected to service under Article 10, and does not permit service via postal channels.. Switzerland also declared that the request and documents to be served must be translated into German, French or Italian depending on the part of Switzerland where the documents must be served. For additional information see the Hague Conference Service Convention web page and the Hague Conference Practical Handbook on the Operation of the Hague Service Convention. See also Switzerland’s response to the 2008 Hague Conference questionnaire on the practical operation of the Hague Service Convention.
Service on a Foreign State: See also our Service Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) feature and FSIA Checklist for questions about service on a foreign state, agency or instrumentality.
Service of Documents from Switzerland in the United States: See information about service in the United States on the U.S. Central Authority for the Service Convention page of the Hague Conference on Private International Law Service Convention site.
Prosecution Requests: U.S. federal or state prosecutors should also contact the Office of International Affairs, Criminal Division, Department of Justice for guidance.
Defense Requests in Criminal Matters: Criminal defendants or their defense counsel seeking judicial assistance in obtaining evidence or in effecting service of documents abroad in connection with criminal matters may do so via the letters rogatory process.
Obtaining Evidence in Civil and Commercial Matters
Switzerland is a party to the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters and designated several Central Authorities for the Hague Evidence Convention to receive letters of request for the taking of evidence based on the canton in Switzerland where the evidence or witness is located. Switzerland maintains a database with information about the authorities in each canton. See the Hague Evidence Convention Model Letters of Request for guidance on how to prepare a letter of request. Letters of Request should be prepared in duplicate. Switzerland accepts Letters of Request written in or translated into German, French or Italian depending on the canton in Switzerland. Requests for compulsion of evidence under the Hague Evidence Convention are transmitted directly from the requesting court or person in the United States to Switzerland’s canton designated Central Authorities and do not require transmittal via diplomatic channels. See Switzerland’s Declarations and Reservations on the Hague Evidence Convention. See also Switzerland’s response to the 2008 Hague Conference questionnaire on the practical operation of the Hague Evidence Convention.
Requests from Switzerland to Obtain Evidence in the United States: The U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Evidence Convention is the Office of International Judicial Assistance, Civil Division, Department of Justice, 1100 L St., N.W., Room 11006, Washington, D.C. 20530, tel: 202) 307-0983; fax: (202) 514-6584.
Taking Voluntary Depositions of Willing Witnesses
Taking voluntary depositions in Switzerland is subject to prior authorization by the Federal Department of Justice and Police. Foreign requests must be addressed to the central authority of the canton where the evidence is to be taken or where the person to be deposed is located. To speed up the process, Swiss authorities recommend that you send a copy to the Federal Office of Justice, International Private Law Unit, 3003 Bern, Switzerland. The Swiss penal code provides that attorneys attempting to take a deposition or serve process in Switzerland outside of these authorized methods are subject to arrest on criminal charges.
Authentication of Documents
Switzerland is a party to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents. Switzerland’s competent authority for the Hague Apostille Convention will authenticate Swiss public documents with Apostilles. For information about authenticating U.S. public documents for use in Switzerland, see the list of U.S. Competent Authorities. To obtain an Apostille for a U.S. Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America, contact the U.S. Department of State, Passport Services, Vital Records Office.