This section is intended for reference only. We strongly recommend that you contact the embassy directly for the most up-to-date information that pertains to your specific situation.
You must have a valid passport to travel abroad. A passport is an official government document that certifies one's identity and citizenship. The process and cost associated with getting a passport can be high, so start the process at least six months before you plan to leave. Your passport must be valid 6 months beyond your intended stay. Minors are allowed to travel on their parents's passports up until aged 15 years.
A visa is a stamp or endorsement placed by officials on a passport that allows the bearer to enter the country. Visas are obtained from the Embassy or consulates.
Switzerland is part of the Schengen Area, although a non-EU member (like Iceland and Norway). There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. For EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) citizens, an officially approved ID card or passport is sufficient for entry.
Only nationals of the following non-EU/EFTA countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area. These visa-free visitors may not stay more than 3 months in half a year and may not work while in the EU
A complete guide to the Swiss Visa system can be found here.
Applicants should submit the application in person at the consulate. A visa application should be lodged at least 15 calendar days before the intended visit (as this is the normal processing time) and cannot be lodged earlier than three months before the start of the intended visit. An application lodged less than 15 calendar days before the intended departure may be accepted, but the applicant should be informed that the processing time may be of up to 15 calendar days. If the applicant insists on lodging the application they should be informed that the final decision might be taken after the intended date of departure.
A fee of 60 euros is applies to individual applicants irrespective of the type of visa applied for and irrespective of where the application is lodged (directly at the consulate by the applicant himself or by a commercial intermediary, via an external service provider or at the external borders).
Payment of the visa fee should be paid in cash or have been paid in a bank when the application is lodged. Generally the visa fee is not refundable irrespective of the final decision on the visa application.
This visa is issued for a short stay (tourism, participation in a summer language course) of up to three months per half-yearly period. Holders of a Schengen Visa must leave the country again after three months at the latest. This means the Schengen Visa is not a suitable instrument if you wish to study, work, or stay in Switzerland.
There are three basic types of Schengen Visa.
Type A: Airport transit visa
Allows transit in the international zone of airport transit. The visa does not allow access to the Schengen territory.
Type B: Transit visa
Allows the holder to pass through one or more Schengen states in order to get to another state. The necessary duration for this transit cannot exceed 5 days.
Type C: Short stay visa
Allows entry into the Schengen territory for a maximum uninterrupted stay of 90 days over a period of six months. The visa can be issued for single or multiple entry. In the event of multiple entries, the total duration of the different stays spent in the Schengen area cannot exceed 90 days over a period of six months.
An applicant submits a visa application in person to the Swiss Embassy or Consulate-General. The applicant's documents must be truthful and complete. Inaccuracies may lead to the revoking of the visa or residence permit and the person has to exit the country.
A Tourist Visa is for people traveling with the purpose of tourism, staying at a hotel or in a rented flat.
A minimum of three working days after submission of the visa application (not counting the day of deposit) and the payment of the fees is needed for consideration of the visa application. Travelers wishing to apply for a tourist visa must submit their application in person. They can be represented by a travel agency accredited with the Swiss Embassy/the Swiss Consulate General or by close relatives (spouse, mother, father, daughter, son).
A Visitor Visa, or (Schengen Visa, type C) is for people who wish to visit relatives or friends, staying in their homes. A visitor visa is available for stays up to 90 days stay (within six months).
If the applicant can prove solvency, the application takes a minimum of three working days after submission of the visa application. In the case of a "Declaration of commitment", the visa-procedure takes several weeks. Applicants are therefore advised to submit their visa application well in advance.
A Business Visa (Schengen Visa, type C) is for people invited for business reasons by a company based in Switzerland.
If the business partners in Switzerland do not guarantee the above mentioned costs, the applicant must provide the following documents:
A minimum time of three working days after submission of the visa application and payment of visa fees is needed for consideration of the visa application.
Travelers wishing to apply for a business visa must submit their application in person or can be represented by a travel agency accredited with the Swiss Embassy/the Swiss Consulate General, by close relatives (spouse, mother, father, daughter, son) or by employees of their company. If the documents are submitted by close relatives, this person has to provide proof of the family ties (copy of birth certificate or marriage certificate: does not need to be legalized or translated). Company employees have to hand in a letter from the employer, confirming their right to submit the file on behalf of the applicant. In addition, family members and company employees have to show proof of identity.
A Student Visa is for people who intend to study in Switzerland.
A Student Visa for stays of over 90 days (national Visa, type D) is for people who intend to study in Switzerland.
To ascertain linguistic proficiency of the student, the Embassy of Switzerland/the Consulate General of Switzerland may require a short, oral language test.
Applications should be made in person. The applicant's documents will be forwarded for decision to the responsible immigration authority in Switzerland, therefore the Embassy /the Consulate General will charge additional CHF 5.00 for postage. The Embassy of Switzerland/the Consulate General of Switzerland can only issue a student visa upon receipt of the authorization. Please note that the procedure takes approx. 6 – 12 weeks.
A Work Visa (national visa, type D) is for people intending to work in Switzerland. All foreigners wishing to work in Switzerland need a special residence permit, regardless whether an employment contract has been concluded by a Swiss or foreign company or whether the work is paid or unpaid. Activities of temporary and interim employment agencies also require a work permit. A work visa must be obtained before entering Switzerland.
If you plan to renew your contract after it has expired, you will have to leave Switzerland and apply for a new work visa. For citizens of the EU-25 countries the bilateral agreements makes it easier to gain a temporary work permit typically for 5 years that is renewable if you have worked. Often a 1 year permit is issued to EU applicants, as such candidates can repeatedly renew even these 1 year permits. Legally, EU applicants have the same status as Swiss applicants when applying for jobs (employer does not need to justify hiring them, and must hire them in preference to non-EU/non-Swiss applicants if skills are equivalent).
People wishing to work in Switzerland must apply for their visa in person. The applicant's file will be forwarded for decision to the responsible immigration authority in Switzerland, therefore the Embassy/the Consulate General will charge additionally CHF 5.00 for postage. The Swiss Embassy/the Swiss Consulate General can only issue a work visa upon receipt of the authorization. Please note that the procedure takes approx. 6 – 12 weeks.
People settling in Switzerland must register with the local authority (Gemeindehaus/maison communale) in the country or area office (Kreisburo/bureau d’arrondissement) in cities within 8 days. You will need to show this registration for most official acts within Switzerland, like applying for visas and starting utilities. If you move within the country, you must register whenever you move to a new residence.
For people living in Switzerland, they must eventually get a residence visa. If you become a Swiss resident, you are supposed to live in Switzerland for most of the year (at least 180 days a year). Especially if you cannot maintain that time frame, you must show the center of life is in Switzerland (family, house, pets).
A B permit (permis de sejour, Aufenthaltsbewilligung, permesso di soggiorno) is an annual residence permit. It gives you the right to live in Switzerland for 180 days a year or more. It has to be renewed every year. It also gives the right to your spouse and children below 18 to come and live with you.
A C permit is a permanent residence permit. It is valid for as long as you remain in Switzerland. It has almost no restrictions and enables you to do many things not possible with B permits such as buying real estate without restrictions, moving from one canton to another, buying weapons, becoming self-employed, etc. Depending on your citizenship, you can obtain a C permit after 5 or 10 years of residence with a B permit.
A CE permit is a B permit for people with a EU passport. It is valid for an initial period of 5 years and gives you many rights not enjoyed by B permits, such as buying Swiss real estate without restrictions, moving within Switzerland without restrictions, becoming self-employed, etc. It is possible for spouses and children to be included on this visa.
Citizenship is given to children of married couples are Swiss citizens from birth provided that either the mother or father is a Swiss citizen. The same applies for a child whose mother is Swiss even if the parents are not married. Children also acquire the cantonal and communal citizenship of their parents by birth. Children born in Switzerland from non-Swiss parents do not automatically become Swiss. This is referred to as jus sanguinis, or "law of the blood", and is often applied in countries with a Germanic legal tradition.
Swiss citizenship can be acquired through naturalization. This requires that you have resided in Switzerland for at least twelve years, three of which occurred within the five years prior to the request. Time spent in Switzerland between the ages of 10 and 20 years counts double.
There is also a simplified naturalization procedure, mainly for foreign spouses of Swiss citizens and children of Swiss citizens who do not yet hold Swiss citizenship.
The request is to be made to the Federal Office for Migration.
The canton and municipality of residence can add further conditions and set the cost of acquiring citizenship before approving it.
Dual Citizenship is possibly for certain countries that have an agreement. There is no restriction on holding dual nationality in Switzerland. People who acquire Swiss nationality do not have to relinquish their previous nationality, although it is possible that the law of the country of origin stipulates the automatic loss of nationality if another nationality is voluntarily acquired.
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