Did German citizens need a visa to enter Switzerland in 1945?

Did German citizens need a visa to enter Switzerland in 1945?

I'm researching a story that plays in Europe immediately after the end of World War II. There is a character who

  • is a German citizen and
  • travels to Switzerland

in 1945 (after the capitulation of Nazi Germany) because she does not want to live under the occupation of the Allies.

Would this person need a visa to legally get to Switzerland? Were there any privileges for German refugees (civilians fleeing from Eastern Germany)?


No visa was needed to enter, strictly speaking. But it would be needed to enter legally and for staying there. There were no privileges for Germans from anywhere, but privileges for people citing a reason the Swiss accepted and for people having documented ties to people in Switzerland. Just hailing from Soviet occupied Germany would likely be not particularly high on the list of accepted reasons.


Werner Bischof: The town of St Margarethen at the Swiss-German border on May 3, 1945: Prisoners of war and forced labourers wait to cross into Switzerland
(How Magnum photographers see Switzerland)

This photo is in some contrast with the following:

Refugees
As a neutral state bordering Germany, Switzerland was easy to reach for refugees from the Nazis. However, Switzerland's refugee laws, especially with respect to Jews fleeing Germany, were strict and have caused controversy since the end of World War II. From 1933 until 1944 asylum for refugees could only be granted to those who were under personal threat owing to their political activities only; it did not include those who were under threat due to race, religion or ethnicity. On the basis of this definition, Switzerland granted asylum to only 644 people between 1933 and 1945; of these, 252 cases were admitted during the war. All other refugees were admitted by the individual cantons and were granted different permits, including a "tolerance permit" that allowed them to live in the canton but not to work. Over the course of the war, Switzerland interned 300,000 refugees. Of these, 104,000 were foreign troops interned according to the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers outlined in the Hague Conventions. The rest were foreign civilians and were either interned or granted tolerance or residence permits by the cantonal authorities. Refugees were not allowed to hold jobs. Of the refugees, 60,000 were civilians escaping persecution by the Nazis. Of these, 26,000 to 27,000 were Jews. Between 10,000 and 24,000 Jewish civilian refugees were refused entry. Although Switzerland harboured more Jewish refugees than any other country, these refugees were refused entry on the grounds of already dwindling supplies. Of those refused entry, a Swiss government representative said, "Our little lifeboat is full." At the beginning of the war, Switzerland had a Jewish population of between 18,000 and 28,000 and a total population of about 4 million. By the end of the war, there were over 115,000 refuge-seeking people of all categories in Switzerland, representing the maximum number of refugees at any one time.

It seems that the refugee policy progressively tightened up:

At precisely the time when Germany started deporting the Jews from Western Europe to concentration camps (August 1942), Switzerland announced that it was closing its borders: "Refugees fleeing on racial grounds, such as Jews, are not entitled to political asylum." This move led to intercessions by religious leaders among others, and to a parliamentary debate which ended in the Federal Council moderating its decision somewhat. As a result, the sick, pregnant women, those over 65, and children under 16 travelling alone, as well as parents with children under the age of 6, and people with close relatives in Switzerland were not to be turned back. It is estimated that during the war some 20,000 Jewish refugees were turned away at the border and around 10,000 visa applications were refused.
Switzerland during the war years (1914-1945)

While anyone might have entered illegally across the green border, staying there would require official documentation. For that you would need a visa first and then apply for the rest of the documents needed to match the plans for the future. You might even just show up at the border, accepting the risk to be turned away immediately - or let in.

That is the official way. More interesting is of course the obtainment of papers through the help of Fluchthelfer or Passeure: Swiss people, from ordinary or criminal forgers to humane officials making exceptions or falsifying documents.

Swiss people who provided escape assistance against the laws of the time were punished and only rehabilitated much later: As Swiss Vice Consul in Budapest, Carl Lutz saved more than 60,000 people - around half of all surviving Hungarian Jews - from Nazi extermination by illegally issuing papers that enabled them to leave for Palestine. After the 1995 verdict against Paul Grüninger, who died 23 years earlier and was convicted as police chief in St. Gallen in 1940 for "violation of his official duties" was reversed, the Swiss parliament passed its own rehabilitation law for escape helpers from the Nazi era. Since then, more than fifty convicted Passeure from the period between 1933 and 1945 have been rehabilitated. However, according to research by the weekly WoZ, only two of them underwent rehabilitation.

WP: Schweiz im Zweiten Weltkrieg

A very nice anecdote found in the official report of the UEK reads as follows:

Grenzübertritt und Aufenthalt
Am 22. August 1942 überschritt Eduard Gros gemeinsam mit Hubert und Paul Kan bei Genf die Grenze zur Schweiz. Kurz nach ihrer illegalen Einreise wurden die drei staatenlosen Juden von der Genfer Heerespolizei festgenommen, im Auto zu dem auf Schweizer Boden gelegenen deutschen Zollposten von La Plaine gebracht und zu Fuss an die Grenze zum besetzten Frankreich geschickt. Als die Flüchtlinge die deutschen Grenzpolizisten erblickten, sprangen sie in die Rhone und schwammen zurück ans Schweizer Ufer. Dort flehten sie verzweifelt um Asyl. Ohne Erfolg. Einer versuchte, sich die Schlagadern zu öffnen. Seinem Suizidversuch zuvorkommend, schleppten Schweizer Grenzwächter und Soldaten die drei aneinandergeklammerten Männer vom Ufer weg, um sie den bereitstehenden deutschen Beamten zu übergeben. Die Auslieferung erwies sich aber als undurchführbar. Da man aufsehenerregende Zwischenfälle vermeiden wollte, vereinbarte Daniel Odier, Polizeioffizier des Genfer Territorialkreises, mit den deutschen Grenzbeamten eine offizielle Übergabe der Flüchtlinge auf dem Boden des besetzten Frankreichs. Dort wurden die drei Juden von der deutschen Grenzpolizei verhaftet und - wie andere Flüchtlinge später berichteten - ins Gefängnis von Gex gebracht. Am 18. September 1942 wurden Eduard Gros, Hubert und Paul Kan über Drancy nach Auschwitz deportiert.

Dieses Beispiel zeigt die Schwierigkeiten und Risiken eines Grenzübertritts auf drastische Art und Weise auf. Für eine erfolgreiche Flucht waren verfolgte Menschen aufgrund der beschränkten Fluchtmöglichkeiten, wegen des Visumzwangs und der Grenzschliessungen von der Hilfe Dritter abhängig. Für den unmittelbaren Grenzübertritt mussten sich die Flüchtlinge oft einer mit den lokalen Gegebenheiten vertrauten Person - einem sogenannten Passeur - anvertrauen, welchem sie in der Folge auf Gedeih und Verderb ausgeliefert waren. Die Notlage bot den Flüchtenden keine Sicherheit - weder Schutz vor Beraubung und Erpressung noch davor, nach erfolgter Bezahlung vom Passeur im Stich gelassen oder gar denunziert zu werden. Und auch nach dem Überschreiten der Grenze war die Gefahr noch nicht vorbei, seit die Schweizer Behörden das Grenzgebiet bis 12 km ins Landesinnere ausgedehnt hatten und in diesem Streifen gefasste Flüchtlinge mit der Zurückweisung rechnen mussten.

Translation: On 22 August 1942, Eduard Gros crossed the border with Switzerland together with Hubert and Paul Kan near Geneva. Shortly after their illegal entry, the three stateless Jews were arrested by the Geneva army police, taken by car to the German customs post on Swiss soil in La Plaine and sent on foot to the border with occupied France. When the refugees saw the German border police, they jumped into the Rhone and swam back to the Swiss shore. There they desperately begged for asylum. Without success. One of them tried to open his arteries. Courteous of his suicide attempt, Swiss border guards and soldiers dragged the three men clamped together away from the shore to hand them over to the German officers standing by. However, the extradition proved unfeasible. In order to avoid sensational incidents, Daniel Odier, police officer of the Geneva Territorial Circle, agreed with the German border officials to officially hand over the refugees on the territory of occupied France. There the three Jews were arrested by the German border police and - as other refugees later reported - taken to Gex prison. On September 18, 1942, Eduard Gros, Hubert and Paul Kan were deported to Auschwitz via Drancy, a drastic example of the difficulties and risks of crossing the border. For a successful escape, persecuted people were dependent on the assistance of third parties due to the limited escape possibilities, visa requirements and border closures. For the immediate crossing of the border, the refugees often had to entrust themselves to a person familiar with the local conditions - a so-called Passeur - to whom they were subsequently subjected for better or worse. The plight offered the refugees no security - neither protection against robbery and blackmail nor from being abandoned or even denounced by the passeur after payment had been made. And even after crossing the border the danger was still not over, since the Swiss authorities had extended the border area up to 12 km inland and refugees caught in this strip had to reckon with the rejection. Jean-François Bergier: "Die Schweiz, der Nationalsozialismus und der Zweite Weltkrieg: Schlussbericht", 2002.

While from 1938 up to 1942 these laws and practices progressively tightened up, there was a small window of relatively lowered restrictions. From July 12, 1944 on a new directive was issued to allow anyone in who was "who are truly endangered to life and limb." ( „die an Leib und Leben wirklich gefährdet“ waren). A few thousand people seemed to have benefitted from this policy. That does not mean that border controls were somehow laxer. This is only a relative relaxation: not everyone was let in, still. To the contrary: this was issued in parallel with further restrictions to ensure that no known Nazis or war criminals were allowed to enter. This can almost be called a "window of opportunity" (with caveats), but this was closed again with ever tighter re-instated visa-requirements - with much fewer exceptions in practice - on May 22, 1945. (Source: Guido Koller & Heinz Roschewski: "Flüchtlingsakten 1930-1950 - Thematische Übersicht zu Beständen im Schweizerischen Bundesarchiv", Schweizerisches Bundesarchiv: Bern, 1999., p 23.). Until 1947 these rules remained very strict when they were slowly and in several steps relaxed again, no less because the central/federal offices gave back the handling of migrants and refugees to the canton-level.


Frequently Asked Questions about Schengen Visa

A Schengen visa obtained by any of the Schengen Area member countries allows free movement to its holder within the whole Schengen Zone, up to its validity and timeframe.

Which countries take part in the Schengen Agreement?

When issued a visa, for how long can I reside in the Schengen Zone?

According to the type of visa issued by the certain embassy/consulate of any Schengen country there are different restrictions that apply to the particular visa in accordance to the nature of travelling and other relevant circumstances. However, the most common type of visa issued to the travelers can reach the maximum of 90 days in every six month period starting from the date of entry.

In which occasion am I allowed to apply for a Schengen visa?

Every person is allowed to apply for a Schengen visa as long as they can get all the required documentation in order and possess the financial means to maintain themselves during their stay to the Schengen area.

What type of a Schengen visa do I need?

Depending on the purpose/nature of your travel there are three major types of Schengen visa issued by the designated Embassy/Consulate.

    • The Uniform Schengen Visa stands for a permit of one of the Schengen Area Member Countries to transit or reside in the desired territory for a certain period of time up to the maximum of 90 days every six-month period starting from the date of entry.
    • The Limited territorial validity visa allows you to travel only in the Schengen State that has issued the visa or in some other cases, in the certain Schengen States specifically mentioned when applying for the visa.
    • The national visa is granted to the certain individuals who are to be studying, working or permanently residing in one of the Schengen countries.

    What is a Uniform Schengen Visa?

    According to the purpose of traveling the Uniform Schengen Visa applies to all of the two categories, “A” and “C”.

    • “A” category stands for the Airport Transit Visa which allows its holder to travel through the international zone of the Schengen Country Airport without entering the Schengen Country Area. Airport transit visa is mandatory for the citizens travelling from one non-Schengen state to another non-Schengen state through a change of flights in a Schengen Country airport.
    • “C” category stands for a Short-term visa which allows its holder to reside in a Schengen Country (Schengen Area) for a certain period of time depending on the visa validity.

    What is the difference between Airport transit visa and Transit visa?

    While the Airport Transit Visa allows its holder to travel through the international zone of the Schengen Country Airport without entering the Schengen Country Area the Transit visa which allows its holder to transit within no more than 5 days through more than one Schengen country by car, coach or plane on the way to a non-Schengen country.

    What is the difference between a single-entry and a multiple-entry Schengen visa?

    Single-entry visa allows its holder to enter a Schengen Area only once for the certain period of time. Once you leave the Schengen Area you entered the visa validity expires, even if the time period allowed to stay in the Schengen Area is not over yet, while Multiple-entry visa allows its holder to go in and out of the Schengen Area as pleased.

    What is a Limited territorial validity visa?

    Limited territorial validity is a document that allows one to travel only in the Schengen State that has issued the visa or in some other cases, in the certain Schengen States specifically mentioned in the itinerary when applying for the visa. Apart from these Schengen countries, this specific visa is invalid to any other Schengen country not specified prior.

    What is a National visa?

    The national visa can be of a single entry, granted to the people who are in need of residing in the Schengen country for a certain period of time and for a sole purpose after which they shall return to their country. On the other hand a multi-entry national visa is also granted for certain individuals, allowing its holder to travel in and out of this Schengen country as he/she pleases and also travel throughout the whole Schengen Area without additional visa requirements.

    How to Find Cheap Flights to Schengen Countries?

    Well, the time when finding a Cheap Airline Ticket to Europe was a synonym for a low-quality travel it is almost an allegory anymore. Good news in this regard is that all you need now is exploring and spotting the random hidden Cheap Flight Deals that guarantee you an affordable and a pleasurable Trip to Europe. In the article Cheap Flights to Schengen Countries we will show you some key tips that will most likely save you time, frustration and most importantly money when booking your next flight to Europe.

    Where do I apply for the Schengen visa?

    In cases where the applicant will be traveling to one and only one Schengen country, the applicant has to apply at the appropriate embassy/consulate of the designated country.

    If I am travelling to more than one Schengen country, at which embassy do I apply for a Schengen Visa?

    If the applicant is planning to visit two or more Schengen countries, it is highly recommended to be applying for the visa in the embassy/consulate of the country you will be residing in for most of the traveling days, referred to as the main destination.

    What is a flight itinerary for Visa application?

    Flight itinerary is a confirmed document which can be verified online about the schedule of a given flight.

    What steps do I follow when pursuing a Schengen visa?

    Every person the wishes to apply for a visa in order to visit a Schengen member country is obliged to apply in person, gather all the mandatory documents and first and foremost accordingly to the rules and regulations, make an appointment in advance. The person that will be applying for a visa has to make sure he/she holds a valid passport apropos a passport that has been issued no longer than ten years ago and has a period of six months until its expiration date.


    As the Nazi regime’s attacks intensified in the late 1930s, hundreds of thousands of Jews in Germany tried to immigrate to the United States. To enter the United States, each person needed an immigration visa stamped into his or her passport.

    The bureaucratic hurdles facing German Jews attempting to emigrate in the late 1930s were overwhelming. Nations required extensive documentation that was often virtually impossible to obtain. The following is a list of the documents required by the United States to obtain a visa.

    • Five copies of the visa application
    • Two copies of the applicant's birth certificate
    • Quota number (establishing the applicant's place on the waiting list)
    • Close relatives of the prospective immigrant were preferred
    • The sponsors were required to be US citizens or to have permanent resident status, and they were required to have completed and notarized six copies of an Affidavit of Support and Sponsorship
    • Certified copy of most recent federal tax return
    • Affidavit from a bank regarding applicant's accounts
    • Affidavit from any other responsible person regarding other assets (affidavit from sponsor's employer or statement of commercial rating)

    Certificate of Good Conduct from German Police authorities, including two copies of each:

    • Police dossier
    • Prison record
    • Military record
    • Other government records about individual

    Affidavits of Good Conduct (after September 1940) from several responsible disinterested persons

    Physical examination at US consulate

    Proof of permission to leave Germany (imposed September 30, 1939)

    Proof that prospective immigrant had booked passage to the Western hemisphere (imposed September 1939)


    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    I have a German passport, do I need a visa to visit the United States?

    No. No visa is required for German visitors, but you will need to obtain an authorization under the Visa Waiver Program. To be eligible for this program, you need to first apply online for an ESTA.

    What is an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)?

    The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system that assists in determining eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk. Upon completion of an ESTA application, a traveler is notified of his or her eligibility to travel to the United States under the VWP.

    What is a Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?

    The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is administered by the DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security) and enables eligible citizens or nationals of designated countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business (for stays of up to 90 days) without first obtaining a visa.

    I already have a valid visa. Do I still need an ESTA to travel to the United States?

    Individuals who possess a valid visa will still be able to travel to the United States on that visa for the purpose for which it was issued. Individuals traveling on valid visas are not required to apply for an ESTA.

    How long can visitors with a German passport stay in the United States?

    German visitors can stay in the United States for a maximum of 90 days Per Entry . All visits are strictly limited to business or tourism, so you CANNOT seek paid work or employment.

    What are the documents required to apply?

    Before applying for the US ESTA online with iVisa, you just will need:

    • An electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric info and with at least 6-month validity from the planned date of entry.
    • Your passport number and Personal Identification Number (PIN).

    How long is the ESTA valid?

    The ESTA is valid for 2 years from the date of approval.

    What are the processing times and prices?

    For the United States ESTA, iVisa has three options of processing time and prices, and they are as follows:

    Standard processing – your application is processed within 24 hours , and the price is USD 39.00 (service fees included).

    Rush processing – you will receive your ESTA within 4 hours , and the total price of it is USD 69.00 (service fees included).

    Super rush processing – this is the fastest option. You will have your ESTA in only 30 minutes , and you will be charged USD 89.00 (service fees included).

    Click here to start your application.

    How long does it take to apply for an ESTA?

    The application form for an ESTA will take you less than 10 minutes. Next, we will let you know the status of the application by email.

    How can I apply for an ESTA?

    The application for an ESTA is really simple. It consists of three easy steps:

    The first step will ask you to fill in your general information. You also need to choose the processing time from the options mentioned above.

    The second step will ask you to revise step one and make the payment.

    The last step consists of a questionnaire. Other documents may be required as well, but it depends on personal circumstances.

    Click here to start. In case you need assistance to fill your application, iVisa has a fantastic support service that you can call 24/7.

    What happens after I have applied?

    Once the application is done, you just need to wait for us to send you an email to notify you about your eligibility to travel to the United States under the VWP.

    How many times can I enter the United States with an ESTA?

    The US ESTA allows Multiple Entry .

    Does the ESTA guarantee admission into the United States?

    No. If your ESTA is approved, it only states that you are eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, but does not guarantee that you are admissible to the United States. Upon arrival in the USA, you will be inspected by an immigration officer who will determine if you are admissible under the Visa Waiver Program and/or any other United States law.

    Do I need to get an ESTA for my kids too?

    Yes, accompanied and unaccompanied children (regardless of age) require their own ESTA prior to their travel to the US. Children listed on their parents' passports do not qualify for an ESTA. Children must have their own (unexpired) passport in order to qualify for an ESTA.

    How can I apply for my family or friends?

    You can perfectly apply for others just making sure you have all the required documents (you can see above in this article). You can apply here introducing his or her data. In case you need to apply for more than one person, you can do so by clicking on ‘Add new applicant’ in the application form and completing the data required.

    What can I do if I make a mistake in my application?

    If you made a mistake when entering your data online then please contact our customer service representatives as soon as possible via online chat to assist you.

    Remember that if we already submitted your application, then you CANNOT make any changes and you will have to apply again but we will NOT charge you another service fee.

    Is it safe to use iVisa to get my ESTA?

    iVisa provides maximum safety for your personal data, confidentiality, and we invest a lot in the security of our database. Your personal information could not be safer. You can check what hundreds of satisfied customers say about us here.

    How Can German Citizens Move to the US?

    A German citizen will need to apply to the appropriate visa in order to move to the USA. Some popular options are the H1-B, E-2, O-1, and EB-5 visa. The appropriate visa type will depend on your qualifications and length of stay. If you don't plan to move and instead visit for a short stay the ESTA is good for 90 days Per Entry .

    I have more questions, where can I find more info?

    For fast answers, click here and start chatting with one of our customer service representatives. Alternatively, you can find more info and FAQs here.


    Workers and students

    If you’re a worker or student, you must also meet Canada’s entry requirements. A work permit or study permit is not a visa. In most cases, you’ll also need a valid visitor visa or eTA to enter Canada.

    If you’re applying for your first study or work permit

    We’ll automatically issue you a visa or eTA if you need one and we approve your application. When you travel to Canada make sure you have:

    • your letter of introduction
    • valid passport or travel document
      • if you’re visa-required, it must contain the visa sticker that we put in it
      • if you need an eTA and you’re flying to a Canadian airport, it must be the passport that’s electronically link to your eTA.

      If you already have a work or study permit

      If you’re visa-required, make sure that your visitor visa is still valid if you choose to leave Canada and re-enter.

      If you need an eTA and you’re flying to a Canadian airport, make sure you travel with the passport that’s electronically linked to your eTA.

      You must travel with your valid study or work permit, a valid passport and travel document.

      If you’re eligible to work or study without a permit

      If you’re eligible to work or study without a permit, you’re considered a visitor to Canada. You must meet the entry requirements for travellers from your country of citizenship.


      COVID-19 – FAQ for U.S. Citizens

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Switzerland due to COVID-19.

      For all Alerts and Messages from the U.S. Embassy Bern, please click here

      • As of January 26, all air passengers age 2 and older traveling to the United States must get tested within 72 hours of the flight for COVID-19 and provide proof of the negative result prior to boarding.
        :
      • All travelers to the United States are required to adhere to CDC quarantine recommendations.

      Is a negative COVID-19 test required?

      YES. CDC requires all air passengers age 2 and older traveling to the United States to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result to the airline before boarding the flight. Air passengers who have had a positive viral test for COVID-19 in the past 3 months, and have met the criteria to end isolation, may travel instead with documentation of their positive viral test results and a letter from their healthcare provider or a public health official that states they have been cleared for travel. The positive test result and letter together are referred to as “documentation of recovery.” For more information on this testing requirement, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions.

      For more information see CDC’s Testing and International Air Travel page. Always follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.

      • For additional information visit the CDC Website
      • For information on getting a COVID test, please follow the information provided here.

      What type of COVID-19 test is required to travel to the United States?

      You will need a viral test (NAAT/PCR or antigen test) and receive a negative result to travel to the United States.

      Where can I get tested in Switzerland?

      Testing locations vary by canton. Find your canton and testing locations here.

      Can I travel to the United States on my expired U.S. passport?

      If you are overseas and your passport expired on or after January 1, 2020, you may be able to use your expired passport to return directly to the United States until December 31, 2021

      You qualify for this exception if all the following are true:

      • You are a U.S. citizen.
      • You are currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States.
      • You are flying directly to the United States, a United States territory, or have only short-term transit (“connecting flights”) through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory.
      • Your expired passport was originally valid for 10 years. Or, if you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, your expired passport was valid for 5 years.
      • Your expired passport is undamaged.
      • Your expired passport is unaltered.
      • Your expired passport is in your possession.

      You do not qualify for this exception if:

      • You wish to depart from the United States to an international destination.
      • You are currently abroad seeking to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory.
      • Your expired passport was limited in validity.
      • Your expired passport is a special issuance passport (such as a diplomatic, official, service, or no-fee regular passport).
      • Your expired passport is damaged.
      • Your expired passport is altered.
      • Your expired passport is not in your possession.

      Please be advised that currently, routine passport processing in the United States can take 10-12 weeks. If you need a passport in less than 10-12 weeks due to international travel plans, you can pay an additional $60 fee to expedite your passport, which will shorten the processing time to 4-6 weeks.

      If your U.S. passport expired on or before December 31, 2019, please see our website for information on how to renew your passport before traveling: https://ch.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/

      I am only transiting the United States. Do I need a COVID-19 test?

      YES. Any passenger two years of age and older on a flight traveling to the United States, even for a connection, will require a negative test prior to boarding the flight.

      I have been vaccinated. Do I still have to take the COVID-19 test?

      YES. All passengers age 2 and older traveling to the United States have to get tested, regardless of vaccination status.

      I already had COVID-19. Do I need to get tested before traveling to the United States?

      You must provide proof that you had a positive viral test within the past 90 days, have no symptoms, and have a letter from your doctor or health department that states you have been cleared for travel.

      Does my child have to get tested for COVID-19?

      YES. All air passengers age 2 and older must provide negative test results prior to boarding.

      Do the COVID-19 test results have to be in English?

      Please check with your airline on the accepted language.

      Is a waiver available for the testing requirements?

      Waivers to the testing requirement may be granted by the CDC on an extremely limited basis when extraordinary emergency travel (like an emergency medical evacuation) must occur to preserve someone’s health and safety, and testing cannot be completed before travel. There are no waivers available for individuals who test positive for COVID-19. Individuals – or air carriers seeking to allow boarding by potentially qualifying individuals – who believe they meet the criteria for a waiver should contact the U.S. Embassy Bern and provide the information below. The U.S. Embassy will then submit the request to the CDC for consideration.

      The following information must be provided by email for each passenger:

      1. Name (family name/surname, given name), passport number and country
      2. Cell phone number including country code of passenger or head of household if family unit
      3. Email address of passenger or head of household if family unit
      4. U.S. destination address
      5. Is U.S. destination home address?
      6. Departure date
      7. Flight itinerary
      8. Name of submitting entity if different from passenger
      9. Name of company submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
      10. Name of point of contact submitting on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
      11. Phone and email address for POC submitting waiver request on behalf of passenger(s) (if applicable)
      12. Purpose of travel to the U.S. (provide brief explanation of why urgent travel is needed and how travel will contribute to health and safety of passengers(s))
      13. Justification for testing waiver (e.g. no testing available, impact on health and safety)
      14. Documentation to support justification for test waiver, if available (e.g. medical records or orders for medical evacuation)

      Does CDC require quarantine after international travel?

      CDC does not require that international travelers undergo mandatory federal quarantine, but does recommend travelers get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home or otherwise self-quarantine for 7 days after travel. For more about CDC’s after travel recommendations for preventing COVID-19 see After you Travel Internationally.

      CDC has also provided strong guidance to state and local public health officials to use their authorities to protect the health, safety, and welfare of persons within their jurisdictions. CDC will continue to work closely with state/local public health officials to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, and encourage them to use their own authorities to enforce the use of isolation and quarantine when necessary. Always follow state, territorial, and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.


      Regular naturalisation

      Foreigners with no direct blood ties to Switzerland through either birth or marriage must live in the country for at least ten years before they can apply for citizenship (of which three in the five years before applying for citizenship). Years spent in the country between the age of eight and 18 count double (although the actual length of residence must amount to at least six years).

      Knowledge of a national language to a minimum spoken level of B1 and written level of A2 will be required. Applicants for naturalisation need a “C” residence permit to apply for a Swiss passport. People on welfare and anyone with a criminal offence are in theory excluded.

      The State Secretariat for Migration examines whether applicants are integrated in the Swiss way of life, are familiar with Swiss customs and traditions, comply with the Swiss rule of law, and do not endanger Switzerland's internal or external security.

      The State Secretariat for Migration will then “green light” an applicant’s request to begin the naturalisation process but that does not mean citizenship is certain. Rather, cantons and municipalities have their own requirements that must be met.

      Why a Polish/Scottish couple became Swiss

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      After submitting your naturalisation application, you will be invited to a personal interview where you will be informed of the subsequent steps to be taken.

      Naturalisation procedures vary considerably from one commune or canton to another: some communes, for instance, require applicants to take a verbal or written naturalisation test while others leave the naturalisation decision up to the communal assembly. The duration of the procedure also varies considerably from one canton to another.

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      Coronavirus (COVID-19)

      Starting March 19, 2020, Switzerland temporarily stopped accepting visa applications and issuing Schengen and national visas.

      The visa services will resume and/or have resumed as follows:

      All categories of national type D visa applications.

      No Schengen visa applications type C are acceptedfor short-term stays of up to 90 days in the Schengen area for tourism, business or visit. It is at the moment unfortunately unclear when the situation will allow the issuance of Schengen visas again. As soon as the acceptance of visa applications is possible, it will be published on this website.

      For further information please visit: SEM

      Various regulations apply for entering Switzerland. A basic distinction is made between citizens of the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries and those of other countries. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) is the responsible authority in Switzerland.

      Since Switzerland’s adherence to the Schengen and Dublin agreements came into force (12 December 2008), Swiss representations abroad are able to issue certain categories of visa, depending on the length of stay and purpose of the journey in Switzerland. Please select one of the following options.

      Schengen visa for a stay of up to 90 days

      For persons wishing to enter Switzerland for a short stay of up to 90 days within a 180-day period: for example, in a context of tourism, a visit to relatives or friends, short-term language studies, participating in a conference or in sporting/cultural events, etc.

      National visa for a stay of more than 90 days

      For persons wishing to enter Switzerland for a stay of more than 90 days within a 180-day period. It is subject to the authorisation of the cantonal migration authority competent for the intended place of residence. For example: long-term student, family reunification, marriage in Switzerland, etc.


      Interpreting length of stay and number of entries [ edit ]

      Pay particular attention to the validity dates and length of stay: make sure to leave before they expire (whichever comes earlier/first).

      The validity dates simply provide the window in which you can travel to the Schengen area. If you decide to postpone and shorten your trip however, the original expiry date will still stand and you must still exit on or before this date even if the allowed number of days stated in your visa won't be totally used-up by this said date.

      If you were given a multiple-entry visa, the number of days indicated on the visa will refer to the total amount of time you can spend in the Schengen area, regardless of the number of entries you plan to make or are allowed to make, in a six-month period. Hence, if you are given a multiple-entry visa but valid for three months but the length stay only allows 10 days, the 10 days won't be reset by you leaving the Schengen Area and returning later, you may only be readmitted for the remaining time you have. Arrival and departure dates are included in the number of days you have stayed in the Schengen Area, regardless of actual arrival and departure time, so plan accordingly to maximize time.

      Likewise, if you were only given a single entry visa for 30 days but have decided to cut your trip short by leaving only 20 days into your trip, you can no longer use that same visa any more and the remaining days you have left on that visa are forfeited (though this will not be taken against you when you apply for another visa in the future since you did not overstay). Keep this in mind if you wish to visit non-Schengen states (e.g. UK, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria) in between two Schengen states and make it clear in your application that you need to do so (though you may also wish to visit such non-Schengen states only before entry or after visiting the Schengen Area).

      If you have been issued a multiple-entry C visa with a long validity period (i.e. more than 6 months) or several single-entry visas, please be aware that you are only allowed a combined maximum stay of 90 days within a 180-day period in the Schengen area.


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