Federal Council decides on further entry restrictions

Questions and answers regarding entry restrictions in times of the COVID-19-pandemic

On March 25 2020 the Federal Council further extended Ordinance 2 on measures to combat coronavirus (COVID-19 Ordinance 2). Based on Article 7 of the Epidemics Act, which provides that in the event of an extraordinary situation, the Federal Council may order necessary measures for the entire country, the entry restrictions were extended.

These countries/regions are affected

In order to maintain Switzerland's capacity to cope with the COVID 19 epidemic and, in particular, to ensure that the population is adequately supplied with care and medical products, restrictions on the entry of persons from countries or regions at risk apply. The list of countries or regions at risk is set out in Appendix 1 of COVID-19 Ordinance 2 and updated by the Federal Council on an ongoing basis. From 25 March 2020, the entry restrictions will apply to the following countries:

  • all Schengen-countries (except. Liechtenstein), including air traffic
  • all countries outside the EU/EFTA)

Exception to the entry ban and consequences in case of violation

Entry into Switzerland is not permitted for persons from the above-mentioned areas, unless:

  • for Swiss citizens,
  • one possesses a travel document and a residence permit for Switzerland,
  • one is entitled to freedom of movement and has a professional reason for entering the country and has a confirmation of registration,
  • one carries out commercial transport of goods,
  • one is in transit to another country,
  • there is an extreme necessity, or
  • one is a specialist in the health sector.

The consequences of a breach of these rules should not be underestimated. Violation of the entry regulations is punishable by imprisonment of up to one year or a fine. In addition, an entry ban can be issued.

Suspension of visa issuance

In light of this, Switzerland is currently no longer issuing Schengen visas, national visas or visa authorizations to persons from the above-mentioned countries or regions. An exception is made if there is an extreme necessity for a person or for specialists in the health sector. An extreme necessity could be for family members of Swiss citizens with a right of residence in Switzerland who require a visa.

The suspension of the issuing of Schengen visas and national visas, as well as authorizations to issue visas, is initially valid until June 15, 2020.

Further answers to questions in this context can be found under FAQs.

FAQs on coronavirus and entry restrictions:

Q: I have a cross-border commuter permit. Can I still enter Switzerland for work?

A: According to the current status (March 19, 2020), persons with a valid permit, such as a cross-border commuter permit, can still enter Switzerland. Please show your permit when requested at the border so that you can enter the country.


Q: I am a service provider from the EU/EFTA and have a mandate in Switzerland. May I send my employees to Switzerland to fulfil the contract?

A: Persons entitled to freedom of movement who have a professional reason for entering Switzerland may continue to enter the country or send their employees to Switzerland to fulfil the contract. However, the persons entering the country must be able to present a confirmation of registration. The registration confirmation is required for all sectors and gainful employment from the first day. The regulation of eight registration-free days is not applicable. The registration must be made and confirmed in accordance with the registration procedure before entry.


Q: We have applied for a permit for a third-country national, what now?

A: At the moment, Switzerland no longer issues Schengen visas, national visas and authorizations to issue visas to third country nationals (COVID 19 Regulation 2 of March 18, 2020). Due to this all pending applications for newly arriving third-country nationals will be temporarily suspended. The competent authorities will clarify with the applicant whether a specific application is to be kept pending or whether it is to be closed as redundant.


Q: Can I currently submit an application for a third-country national?

A: For the time being, the cantonal authorities will no longer accept new labor market applications, with the exception of applications for specialists in the health sector.


Q: I have already received a visa. Can I enter Switzerland?

A: If an application has already been approved by the SEM and an entry permit or the assurance of such a permit has already been issued, you may continue to enter Switzerland.


Q: I have received a visa, but due to the situation I cannot enter Switzerland. What should I do?

A: Persons who have already received a visa but are unable to use it may be granted a free substitute visa or a follow-up visa under certain conditions.

Visas already issued in the passport do not need to be cancelled, revoked or declared invalid unless the applicant expressly requests this.


Q: We have to extend a permit for a third-country national, is that still possible?

A: The COVID 19 Regulation 2 of March 18, 2020 only stopped issuing national and Schengen visas and authorization to issue visas. The measure therefore affects newly arriving third-country nationals. Third-country nationals already in Switzerland who already have a valid residence permit are not affected by this measure. It is still possible to apply for an extension of this valid residence permit.


Q: Due to the situation, I cannot leave Switzerland before the expiry of my visa or residence permit / before the expiry of the maximum valid stay of 90 days in a permit-free area. What must I do?

A: The competent migration authority at the place of residence can extend the visa of persons requiring a visa or issue expulsion orders with an appropriate deadline for departure (extension possible if necessary) or issue D-visas. This means that the stay in Switzerland remains permissible. A stay in the Schengen area that is too long due to the current situation will not be treated as overstay and no sanctions will be imposed.

March 2020 | Authors: Michèle Stutz, Andrea Voëlin

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