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Switzerland  Back to Description

Country Specific Info.

The United States State Department produces Consular Information Sheets with health, safety and other country information for every country in the world. They are one good source of information, though you should look at multiple sources of information and take your own personal situation into account when selecting a country to study in.

The latest Consular Information Sheet for Switzerland is below. We do not take responsibility for this information or edit it in any way. You can access the State Department travel site directly at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/

June 19, 2017


Embassies and Consulates
U.S. Embassy Bern

Sulgeneckstrasse 19
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
bernacs@state.gov
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/USBotschaftBern/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/USEmbassyBern

The American Citizens Services section of 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 through the U.S. Citizen Services page on the Embassy’s website.  Please schedule an appointment through the online appointment system for U.S. Citizen Services.
Consulates

There are two part-time consular agencies in Switzerland.  They provide limited services to U.S. citizens.  Please visit our website for more information on available services.

U.S. Consular Agency - Geneva

Geneva America Center, Rue François-Versonnex 7, CH-1207 Geneva

Mailing address: Postfach 5266, 3001 Bern, Switzerland

Telephone: +(41) (22) 840-5160 (10 a.m. - 1 p.m.)

Fax: +(41) (22) 840-5162
geneva-ca@state.gov

U.S. Consular Agent - Zurich
Zurich America Center
Dufourstrasse 101
8008 Zurich, Switzerland
Telephone: +(41) (43) 499-2960 (10 a.m. - 1 p.m.)
zurich-ca@state.gov

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Switzerland for information on U.S. - Switzerland relations.

Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements

Visit the Embassy of Switzerland website for the most current visa information.

Switzerland is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Switzerland for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport must be valid for at least 90 days beyond the period of stay in the Schengen area. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. For additional details about travel to and in Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.

HIV/AIDS Restrictions: 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

Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possibley near-term attacks in Europe. All European countries remain potentially vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations. There have been no recent terrorist attacks in Switzerland, but open borders with Western European neighbors allow for the possibility of terrorists entering/exiting the country anonymously. Demonstrations occur in Switzerland. Some demonstrations have turned violent in the past, though specific threats of violence involving U.S. citizens in Switzerland are remote.

When traveling or living in Switzerland, you should:

Avoid demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.
Be aware of your local security situation, and take appropriate steps to bolster your personal security.
Monitor media and local information sources as well as 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: Pickpocketing and purse snatching are common.

Be especially vigilant in train and bus stations, airports, public parks, and when conferences, shows, or exhibitions occur in major cities.
Thieves can steal from locked sleeping compartments while passengers sleep.
Thieves may work in pairs. One member of the pair creates a disturbance at the train window while the other steals items while you are distracted.

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

Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy.

Report crimes to the local police at 117, and contact the U.S. Embassy at +41 31 357 7 011, or after-hours at +41 31 357 77 77.  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:

Help you find appropriate medical care
Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
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.

For further information:

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
See the State Department\'s travel website for Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts.
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

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.

Switzerland is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. This means:

Arrestees must be immediately heard before an independent magistrate (public prosecutor) to determine if they will be held for investigative detention.
Individuals “highly suspected” of a crime are generally placed under police detention until their case can be heard by the magistrate.

Mountain Search and Rescue Insurance: Alpine hazards such as avalanches and snowdrifts, landslides and flooding, glacial crevasses, falling rocks, sun exposure, and sudden weather changes are common year-round.  You should:

stay on designated paths,
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, and inform someone of your plans.

You should buy mountain search and rescue insurance for summer and winter. You can buy inexpensive search and rescue insurance at Swiss post offices. More information is available from the Swiss National Tourist Office and with the Swiss Air Rescue Organization.

Swiss Banking: Numerous banks do not accept U.S. citizens as clients. The U.S. Embassy can provide more information on banking in Switzerland. ATMs are widely available and operate with U.S. debit cards.

Faith-Based Travelers: See these webpages for details:

Faith-Based Travel Information
International Religious Freedom Report
Human Rights Report
Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad 

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: You will find some provision for persons with disabilities; however, there is not a country-wide standard. Local experts estimate that only 30 percent of public buildings are wheelchair-accessible.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that Medicare does not cover overseas care.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas accept cash payments only. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health to ensure the medication is legal in Switzerland. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

Vaccinations: Be current on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

World Health Organization
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Travel & Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: While in Switzerland, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Although many roads are mountainous and winding, Swiss road safety standards are high. Some mountain areas require snow chains in winter. Road travel can be more dangerous during summer, winter holidays, the Easter break, and the Whit Sunday weekend (late spring) due to increased traffic.

Travel on expressways (indicated by green signs with a white expressway symbol) requires purchase of a sticker (“vignette”), which must be affixed to the car’s windshield. Purchase vignettes at most crossing points, gas stations, and at Swiss Post offices. Drivers using the highway system without a vignette may receive hefty fines levied on the spot. Please consult with the Federal Office of Transport for the latest information.

Traffic Laws: 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 Swiss equivalent to the “911” emergency line in the United States.

Public Transportation: Public transport in Switzerland is excellent, punctual, and safe. The Swiss tourist office and train stations are the best places to obtain information on special fares and excursions.

See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of the national authority responsible for road safety.

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.

Please see Fact Sheet for this country.

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