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Entering Switzerland

NGO delegates who need a visa to enter Switzerland should consult the website of the Swiss Representation in their place of residence (Representation of Switzerland) in order to obtain the relevant information.

Please note that since October 2011, all States party to the Schengen Agreement have introduced a Visa Information System (VIS) which requires the collection of biometric data. This requires the presence of the applicant by appointment. The scheduling of appointments are generally handled by 'call centers' and can take several weeks.

The application will only be registered and processed by the Swiss Representation after the biometric data has been taken and only if it contains all the required information. Processing time does not start when the request has been received but when all admissibility criteria have been met. Processing times for visa requests may vary according to local contexts (up to 60 days in exceptionnal cases).

For further information please consult the Swiss Confederation website:
 Entry in Switzerland or  FAQ – Frequently asked questions

How to request a visa

Anyone requiring a visa must make the request to the appropriate Representation of Switzerland in accordance with their place of residence, using the visa application form provided by the Representation. The request must be accompanied by the relevant travel documents and other supporting documentation explaining the purpose and circumstances of the planned visit or transit. The request must be submitted at least 15 days before the proposed visit and cannot be submitted more than 3 months in advance of the proposed visit.

Host associations must act as a guarantor for their invitee(s). An attestation of medical / accident / repatriation insurance, valid for the whole period of the stay, may also be required.

Travel insurance

The competent authorities require any person visiting Switzerland to have travel insurance that covers the costs of emergency rescue and repatriation for medical reasons or emergency medical assistance, as well as emergency hospital care in case of accident or sudden illness during the stay. The insurance must cover a minimum of Euro 30,000.

The insurance company must:

  1. Have its head office or a branch in Switzerland, the Principality of Liechtenstein or in an EU or EFTA State; and
  2. Be authorised to issue travel insurance policies by its supervisory body.
The State Secretariat for Migration is not able to display a list of travel insurance companies. However, you may refer to the website of FINMA (Source: State Secretariat for Migration)

Letter of invitation

There is no special form for writing a letter of invitation. However, the letter must include at least the following elements:

  • Proof of invitation by the host association;
  • Contact numbers and addresses of the host association and applicant;
  • The letter must be dated;
  • The letter must be signed by the host.

The letter of invitation can also include the following information, in particular:

  • A note that the host intends to provide food and accommodation to the applicant;
  • Any further information pertaining to the reasons for the applicant’s visit to Switzerland. (source: State Secretariat for Migration)

Schengen Agreement

The Schengen and Dublin agreements officially came into force for Switzerland on  the 12th of December 2008. As a result: 

  • Schengen visas are recognised for entry into Switzerland (all nationalities)
  •  A Swiss residence permit (permits L, B, C), accompanied by a passport, entitles its holder to travel throughout the Schengen Area without a visa.

References & useful links