Last update: November 9, 2020

On September 25, 2020, the Federal Act on the Statutory Principles for Federal Council Ordinances on Combating the COVID-19 Epidemic (Covid-19 Act) was passed. The Ordinance 3 on Measures to Combat the Coronavirus (COVID-19 Ordinance 3) issued by the Federal Council is based on this, which contains, among other things, restrictions on the entry to Switzerland.

These countries / regions are affected

In order to maintain Switzerland's capacity to cope with the COVID 19 epidemic and, in particular, to ensure that the population is adequately supplied with care and medical products, restrictions on the entry of persons from countries or regions at risk apply. The list of countries or regions at risk is set out in Appendix 1 of COVID-19 Ordinance 3 and updated by the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) on an ongoing basis.

Since November 3, 2020, entry restrictions apply to all countries outside the Schengen area, with the exception of:

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Bulgaria
  • Holy See
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Korea (South)
  • Croatia
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Rwanda
  • Romania
  • San Marin
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Uruguay
  • Cyprus

Exception to the entry ban and consequences in case of violation

The entry into Switzerland from a risk country or a risk region for a stay without a work-related permit is not permitted for persons unless the person is within the scope of the AFMP or the EFTA Agreement or can prove that he/she is in a situation of extreme necessity. The consequences of a breach of these rules should not be underestimated. Violation of the entry regulations is punishable by imprisonment of up to one year or a fine. In addition, an entry ban can be issued.

Hardship cases

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) issues the necessary guidelines to answer the question of which situations are considered to be an extreme necessity (hardship case). According to these guidelines, entry must be granted in the following situations, for example:

  • Visit due to the death or because of a dying person of a close family member living in Switzerland, in particular spouse, partner, parents, siblings, children, grandchildren or brothers and sisters in law. Entry is possible together with the visiting person's core family, which includes spouses, registered partners and underage children;
  • Continuation of necessary medical treatment initiated in Switzerland or abroad;
  • Care of family members in medical emergencies (children, grandchildren, parents, siblings);
  • Exercising the right to visit children and their accompanying person as provided for under civil law; this also includes the entry of the child into Switzerland;
  • Visiting the core family. The core family includes the spouse, the registered partner and underage children resident in Switzerland.
  • Taking care of judicial or non-postponable business appointments or meetings that require personal attendance. This includes, for example, contract negotiations and signings, business visits, practical training or important representative assignments;
  • Foreign nationals from third countries who provide a crossborder service for up to eight days per calendar year or who are temporarily employed in Switzerland on behalf of a foreign employer from a third country, provided that their personal presence is required (for example, practical training and further education or training on the job);
  • Entry of members of the core family of Swiss nationals registered with a Swiss representation abroad who enter Switzerland together with the Swiss national for a permit-free stay. The core family includes the spouse, registered partner and minor (step-)children of the Swiss national. Under certain conditions this also applies to cohabiting partners;
  • Entry for the purpose of visiting couples, love affairs or other close partnerships of unmarried or registered partners or of persons without common children (civil partnership) is possible if
    • there is an invitation from a partner resident in Switzerland who is a Swiss citizen or a foreign person with a short stay, residence or settlement permit;
    • a confirmation of the existing partnership is submitted;
    • and at least one personal physical visit or meeting in Switzerland or abroad before the entry restrictions are issued.

The existence of a hardship case must be substantiated by presenting documents to the border control authorities or the Swiss representation abroad. The border control authorities have the discretion to decide whether or not there is a case of hardship.

It should be noted that these persons are subject to quarantine regardless of whether they are granted entry.

FAQs on coronavirus and entry restrictions (see for this and for further questions and answers www.sem.admin.ch, Aktuelle Themen):

Q: I have a cross-border commuter permit. Can I still enter Switzerland for work?

A: According to the current status (November 9, 2020), the conditions of the AFMP and the usual rules of application apply to EU/EFTA/UK citizens and their family members, irrespective of their nationality. Entry into Switzerland is therefore possible with a cross-border commuter permit.

Q: I am a service provider from the EU/EFTA and have a mandate in Switzerland. May I send my employees to Switzerland to fulfil the contract?

A: Providers of cross-border services who can rely on the AFMP are also subject to the conditions of the AFMP and the usual application provisions.

Q: What is the situation regarding entry for employment for third country nationals?

A: Since July 6, 2020, the responsible cantonal authorities are able to process all applications for foreign employees from third countries again.

Q: Who is still subject to a visa stop?

A: Foreign nationals coming from a risk country or region who wish to enter Switzerland for a permit-free stay for non-work purposes and are not entitled by law to freedom of movement or do not belong to any of the exemption categories of Covid-19 Ordinance 3.

Q: I have received a visa, but due to the situation I cannot enter Switzerland. What should I do?

A: It is not necessary to submit a new application. However, in order for the entry permit or the assurance of a residence permit to be updated, the applying employer must contact the competent cantonal migration authority.

Q: Due to the situation, I cannot leave Switzerland before the expiry of my visa or residence permit / before the expiry of the maximum valid stay of 90 days in a permit-free area. What must I do?

A: In this case the person must contact the cantonal migration authorities. The number of days of stay after the validity of the visa or after expiry of the maximum possible length of stay is counted towards a later stay. A reentry within the framework of a permit-free stay can only take place after an interruption of at least 90 days.