The Swiss government recently announced new travel restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Key points:

  • All foreign travellers from Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are banned from entering the country.
  • All residence and temporary stay permits issued by Switzerland and visas issued by and for Switzerland, remain valid for entry.
  • Schengen and national visas for third country nationals will not be issued for a period of three months.
  • Foreigners desiring to enter Switzerland by air can only do so at the Zurich, Geneva and Basel airports.
  • Travelers with cross border permits, assurances of stays, and ID cards issued by the Federal Dept. of Foreign Affairs, can be used for entry.
  • A registration confirmation or certificate must be presented by foreign service providers. The registration confirmation requirement applies to all sectors and activities. The registration confirmation requirement also applies to service providers or gainfully employed individuals who were not obligated to register before the new conditions arose. Registration is to be completed by service providers on the first day. The rule providing an eight-day exemption for registration-free employment no longer applies. Before entry, a declaration in accordance with the registration procedure must be made.
  • Until air traffic returns to a normal state, individuals who can not leave the Schengen Area or Switzerland due to the COVID-19 situation, before the expirations of their visas or residence permits, or the expiration of a 90-day stay under the permit-free framework, and without other ways of returning, are allowed to stay in the Schengen area.
  • It is recommended that individuals who are experiencing these conditions report them to the cantonal migration offices in the canton where they are staying.
  • Swiss border control authorities will not consider overstaying in the Schengen area as an overstay, for individuals who are affected by the COVID-19 situation.
  • Individuals who are experiencing travel difficulties, who can’t use their current Swiss visas, and who also want to enter the country at a later date, can apply for new ones. There will be a fee for a new visa. The requirement to have valid travel health insurance will still apply as will the measure of reviewing police databases. For visa re-evaluations within six months after the travel restrictions have ended, and visas that were granted for the same travel purpose, it is anticipated a reasonable amount of goodwill will be extended.
  • Residence and/or work permits that are currently pending will most likely require more time to process. Pending applications processing can be suspended by authorities until further notice, due to the COVID-19 situation.

Analysis & Comments: The new travel restrictions will significantly impact travel to Switzerland. It is possible further restrictions may be announced. Employers should account for affected travelers and rearrange travel schedules accordingly. Significant delays may occur for consular and in-country processing.

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