Entry Regulations and Exemption Options in Times of Covid
| Jehona Islami

Entry Regulations and Exemption Options in Times of Covid

What businesses should know for travels into Switzerland

What businesses should know for travels into Switzerland

International travel, even when required for specific work purposes, has become a real challenge in light of COVID-19 restrictions imposed around the world. Several hurdles present themselves including completion of mandatory paperwork prior to travel, requirement to complete PCR COVID testing within specific timeframes before travel and to have a negative test result ready for presentation on arrival, as well as post entry registration and quarantine measures. These requirements and obligations are changing at rapid pace and need careful planning for business travellers, those relocating for work purposes and their employers.

Switzerland is one of the countries that requires presentation of a negative PCR test result upon entry. It also has strict quarantine provisions that must be adhered to following entry. What many are still not familiar with is the additional reporting obligation, which came into effect a few weeks ago, to complete and submit an entry form prior to travel. If the reporting obligation is not completed correctly before departure, the traveller can expect to be refused entry to Switzerland. All obligations and requirements to be met to gain entry into Switzerland depend on the departure country, transit arrangements and the means of transport to Switzerland.

The various constellations that can arise, and the updates to quarantine requirements (that are occurring frequently in light of the third COVID wave in several countries within Continental Europe) make travelling to Switzerland more complex than many are prepared for. Consequently, we have been asked to provide advice in respect of a significant number ‘port emergency’ scenarios of late, where requirements have been misunderstood or companies have not been across the latest updates issued by the Swiss authorities.

COVID-19 Entry Requirements: Exemption Opportunities?

What many might not be aware of is that Switzerland is prepared to grant exceptions to certain COVID-19 based entry requirements/restrictions in some circumstances. It is possible, especially when people need to enter Switzerland for specific work or business travel activities, to be exempted from the quarantine obligation and, under certain circumstances, also from the PCR test obligation. Companies have the option to apply for an exemption from the quarantine and PCR testing obligation for their employees before they travel. Approval of such request can obviously make a real difference to those travelling to Switzerland for critical work and business travel purposes.

Exemption requests typically need to be supported by a detailed written submission and are made to the competent cantonal authorities for their review. It is important to make requests ahead of travel and to allow enough time, ideally 1-2 weeks, for consideration and decision.  Of course, if a specific urgent work requirement comes up after entry, an in-country exemption request can be made (to be exempted from the remainder of the quarantine period, for example). We have supported many companies prepare and submit such requests, with successful results. If you have any further questions on this topic, would like to seek support with the application for exemption from quarantine or PCR testing, or have any other questions in connection with the current COVID-19 restrictions for entry into Switzerland, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team would be delighted to assist you in facilitating entry of your employees to Switzerland.


This blog was published on 31 March 2021, and due to the circumstances, there are frequent changes. To keep up to date with all the latest updates on global immigration and to learn more about Fragomen, visit our COVID-19 website, subscribe to our  immigration alerts and follow us on LinkedInFacebookInstagram and twitter .