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UPDATE: What are the Covid rules for transiting through Switzerland?

Landing or arriving in Switzerland only to transit elsewhere? Here’s what you need to know.

Basel Airport on a sunny day
Basel Airport serves not only Switzerland but Germany and France. Von Fanny Schertzer - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Switzerland’s rapidly changing entry rules have led to confusing among Swiss residents and tourists alike. 

While the quarantine requirement was scrapped on December 4th, a new testing scheme now applies for arrivals from all countries. 

Unless arriving from a ‘border region’, which are outlined here, all arrivals need to complete a PCR test on entry and a later test (either PCR or antigen) between four and seven days after arriving. 

The rule applies to Swiss residents and tourists, but conflicting reports have emerged about the rules for transiting passengers. 

Please note that while the Swiss government has confirmed to The Local that transit passengers will be allowed to enter Switzerland without providing a test, we have been contacted by readers who told us that some airlines and airport staff (at non-Swiss airports) have stopped them from flying to Switzerland without a PCR test – even though they were planning to transit. 

This appears to be more of an issue in Geneva, where the French-side exit has been closed. Basel Airport’s French and German-side exits remain open. 

Do Switzerland’s tighter testing requirements apply to people who are only transiting through Switzerland? 

Fortunately for travellers transiting through Swiss airports, you will not need to show a negative PCR test provided you leave Switzerland immediately, by either land or by air. 

A spokesperson from Switzerland’s Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH) confirmed to The Local on November 30th that anyone landing in a Swiss airport would not need to comply with the quarantine or test requirements, provided they were transiting immediately to another country. 

The FOPH said expressly “those entering the country are not subject to the obligation to quarantine if they travel directly to Germany or France by land or air without making a stopover en route, such as for a visit.”*

This is supported by the COVID-19 Ordinance on International Passenger Transport Measures, which is the relevant regulation for entering Switzerland. 

Article 8(f) says expressly “persons who enter Switzerland for the purpose of transiting the country and who intend and are able to travel on directly to another country” will not be subject to the requirements, i.e. quarantining and testing.”

The official rule can be found here. 

Importantly, while you will be allowed to land in Switzerland if you are transiting immediately, be aware that you need to comply with the rules in France, Germany or wherever you are transiting to. 

Here is information on entering France and on entering Germany

*The FOPH provided this advice when the quarantine requirement for entering Switzerland was still valid. 

Why was this confusing? 

Other sources, including Geneva Airport and the British Consulate in Bern, have published conflicting reports as the situation emerged. 

Even the Swiss government’s ‘Travelcheck’ interactive online tool, which helps arrivals from all countries work out which rules apply, currently says that people who leave the airport are required to show a PCR test. 

‘Travelcheck’: This tool shows you what you need to enter Switzerland

However, as illustrated by the Swiss government above, as long as you are leaving Switzerland immediately, you are not subject to testing requirements. 

What about the entry form?

Everyone entering Switzerland, regardless of quarantine or testing rules, will need to fill out the entry form.

READ MORE: Here is the form you need to enter Switzerland

I am flying to a Swiss Airport with a plan on transiting. What should I do to make sure I don’t have to quarantine or provide a test?

While Swiss law does provide an exception to the testing requirement, airports themselves may not be aware of this due to the fast-moving nature of the situation. 

One option is to print the section of the regulation which expressly allows for transit. 

This is available in English here. Click the links for versions in GermanFrench and Italian. 

In order to make it clear to airport/border staff that you are not intending to stop or stay in Switzerland, it may help to print out your end destination and carrying evidence of your connections – for instance onward flight tickets, train tickets or car rental details. 

Some staff at non-Swiss airports have stopped people on the way to Switzerland and asked for a PCR test even though they were transiting. To be extra sure, if you are flying to Switzerland with the purpose of transiting please check with your departure airport ahead of time. 

Please note that this is intended as a guide only and is based on fast-changing information. It does not constitute legal advice and should not replace information from a qualified advisor. 

Member comments

  1. This update is very helpful. However, I’m still a little bit uncertain whether you’ll still have to show a test certificate to board a plane going to Geneva (which I believe is a Swiss requirement on the airline companies) even though you won’t have to show it on arrival if you’re transiting. Or is there a process for declaring that you’re transiting when you board the plane?! This is only an issue because Switzerland needs a PCR test whereas France accepts a cheaper and much easier lateral flow test……. Chris Hedley

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For members


UPDATE: What are the current rules for entering Switzerland?

Headed to Switzerland or returning home from abroad? These are the current entry rules.

UPDATE: What are the current rules for entering Switzerland?

After almost two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, Switzerland is gradually returning to normal. 

Nowhere is this clearer than in relation to travel. 

Entry from EU/EFTA countries

As of February 17th, Switzerland relaxed all Covid-related entry rules for EU entry.  

“It will no longer be necessary to provide proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test or complete an entry form” the government wrote. 

There are currently no countries on the ‘virus variant of concern’ list, although this may change if another mutation is detected. 

Travel: Six ways to save money while visiting Switzerland

In this case, entry rules may again be reinstated. Previous measures have included outright bans or requiring evidence of vaccination and/or tests, with these sometimes coming into effect at short notice. 

Non-EU/EFTA countries

Travel restrictions remain in place for third-country nationals, according to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

Non-Europeans must present proof of full immunisation administered within the past 270 days with a vaccine recognised in Switzerland: Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, Sinopharm and Covaxin.

Those who have not received one of the approved vaccines can’t enter Switzerland at the moment.

This link explains what rules are in place for various categories of travellers.

Covid certificate no longer required

In addition to relaxing entry rules, the Swiss government removed the Covid certificate requirement. This will no longer need to be shown in restaurants, bars and at events in Switzerland. 

Keep in mind however that other countries may require a Covid certificate. 

Reader question: Do Swiss still need Covid certificate to travel abroad?

It is important to note that this purely relates to Covid-related border measures. 

Other restrictions on entering Switzerland, i.e. the requirement to be granted a visa or due to specific bans placed on individuals and nationalities, will remain in place. 

A comprehensive guide on all of the measures which have been relaxed is laid out at the following link. 

Q&A: Everything you need to know about Switzerland relaxing Covid measures

What measures are still in effect? 

Masks will no longer be required in shops, supermarkets and the workplace, while they will continue to be required in public transport for the meantime. 

Berset said the continuation of this rule was justified as while people can avoid shopping – even supermarket shopping – this was not the case with public transport. 

“You can avoid shopping, for example with online shopping or by adjusting the time you go shopping. This is not the case in public transport,” he told the press on Wednesday. 

The government said this will be maintained in the meantime, but may be relaxed in the future as the situation allows it. 

Another measure which will remain in place is the isolation requirement for those who have tested positive. 

Anyone who has tested positive in Switzerland is required to isolate for five days. 

While Berset said this looks to be relaxed at the end of March, it was still important to stop the spread of the virus. 

“Anyone who has tested positive is very contagious in the short term… The most contagious people can be taken out of circulation in this way.”

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis said the isolation measure reflected solidarity in broader society. 

“You also stay at home when you are sick. Society demands that people stay at home when they are sick,” he said

Switzerland has registered more than 2.6 million Covid-19 cases and over 12,500 deaths during the pandemic and currently has a vaccination rate of 70 percent.