You would like to travel to Switzerland but you’re not sure if you can do it without a visa? Then you’ve absolutely come to the right place because this detailed guide will tell you all you need to know about the visa requirements for traveling to Switzerland!
The good news is that nationals from most European countries, as well as many countries in Asia and the Americas, can travel to Switzerland without a visa. The country is a member of the Schengen zone, so a visa for Switzerland is valid to 26 other countries in the Schengen as well, meaning you’re in for an epic backpacking trip throughout Europe!
Table of Contents
Who Needs A Visa to Travel to Switzerland?
The list of countries whose nationals need a visa in order to enter Switzerland is quite long:
Switzerland is a member of Schengen and you need a special Swiss Schengen visa to travel to the country. It’s important to note that nationals of certain countries will need a visa even if they are only passing through Switzerland, and those are:
- Western Sahara
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Sri Lanka
Generally speaking, nationals of the EU, EEA, and all Schengen countries do not require any sort of visa when transiting or traveling through Switzerland. Nationals of some other countries are also included here, and these are nationals of countries who travel freely through Europe.
Requirements to Obtain A Switzerland Visa
The requirements for a Swiss visa depend on the purpose of the visit, but here’s a list of some basic documents you will need to submit in order for your visa request to be considered:
- A completed Switzerland visa application
- Two passports photographs that are in compliance with the photo requirements for a Swiss visa
- A valid passport
- Proof of medical insurance in Switzerland
- Proof of booked flight tickets
- Proof of accommodation
- Proof of sufficient money for your stay (usually you need to have 100 CHF per day)
- Proof of your civil status
- Proof that you paid the Swiss visa fees
- A cover letter explaining the reasons for your trip to Switzerland
Additional Requirements Based on Occupational Status
It is necessary to submit proof of financial status along with your Switzerland visa application and other documents.
If you are employed, you will have to submit the salary slips and salary bank statements for the past three months, statements from your personal bank account for the last three months, and a tax return verification for the last two years.
Those who are self-employed or own a company must submit proof of tax payments for the past two years, a business registration certificate/partnership deed or similar document, and bank statements from the last three months from both personal and business accounts.
Travelers who are retired will have to provide pension bank statements for the last three months as well as proof of regular income (if applicable) from owning a property or business.
Students and unemployed travelers must submit personal bank statements from the past three months of their parents/legal guardians, and proof of tax payment as well as a letter confirming that they are being financially supported.
Additional Requirements Based on Purpose of Visit
There are multiple types of Switzerland visas and you need to apply for a visa according to the purpose of your visit. If you’re traveling for tourism, you need to apply for a tourist visa. If you’re going to Switzerland on a business trip, you must apply for a business visa. Those who want to study in Switzerland must apply for a student visa (for stays up to 90 days) or for a national visa (for stays longer than 90 days).
Nationals of some countries must also apply for an airport transit visa if they have a layover or a stopover in Switzerland. And if you’re applying for a work or residence permit, the requirements are entirely different.
Depending on the type of visa you’re applying for, you might be required to submit additional documentation, in addition to a standard Switzerland application form for a visa.
When applying for a business visa, you will be required to submit proof of financial status, an introduction letter from your employer, and an invitation letter from your Swiss business partner. Proof of accommodation is not required with a business visa.
Those who are applying for a (short-term stay) student visa must submit proof of their academic degree including a Curriculum Vitae, as well as proof that a Swiss school or university has accepted them, and that they’ve paid the enrollment fees, and a personal cover letter explaining their reasons for pursuing studies in Switzerland.
If you’re applying for a national student visa (for stays longer than 90 days), you have to submit multiple copies of the visa application forms, CV, and photographs. Proof of flight, accommodation, and travel insurance are not required in this case.
One thing I want to point out is that the necessary documentation can depend on your nationality, so it’s best to double-check all the requirements on the official website of the Swiss Federal Council.
Additional Requirements for Minors
Most of the documentation necessary for a Swiss visa application is the same for minors and adults, with a few exceptions. Students who are at least 16 years old will need to submit a copy of the student ID plus an introduction letter from their school or university.
Children who are under 18 and traveling alone must have a letter of consent signed by both parents or legal guardians, and certified by a public notary, as well as copies of both parents’ passports.
Kids under the age of 18 but traveling with one parent or legal guardian must have a letter of consent from the other, a non-traveling parent or guardian (signed and notarized), plus copies of passports of both parents or legal guardians.
Where to Apply for A Switzerland Visa?
You can apply for a Switzerland Visa at the Swiss embassy in the country whose resident/national you are. If there is no Swiss embassy in your country, you need to find out which embassy of Switzerland is tasked with dealing with nationals from your country. It might not be the one that’s closest to you, depending on any agreements the embassies may have in place.
You can find out the details for residents of your country on the official website of the Swiss Federal Council. Just select your country from the drop-down menu, and you can see the location of the Swiss embassy where you can submit your visa application, the cost of a Switzerland/Schengen visa, and any other requirements that might be in place for nationals of your country.
How Much Does A Switzerland Visa Cost?
The cost of a visa for Switzerland depends on a few factors, most notably the age of the applicant and their nationality. The visa costs are lower for nationals of certain countries, and it’s generally cheaper for children to get a visa for Switzerland.
The average costs of a Switzerland (Schengen) visa are:
- Adults (12 years and older) – 80 Euros
- Children (6-11 years) – 40 Euros
- Children (under 6 years) – no cost
- Nationals from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Kosovo – 35 Euros
- Nationals from Gambia – 120 Euros
These are the average costs for tourist Schengen visas, and it’s important to note that there’s a different pricing structure for other types of visas. Also, certain people are exempt from having to pay the Schengen visa fees:
- Scientists and researchers traveling for research purposes
- Family members of EU/EEA nationals
- Holders of official, service, or diplomatic passports
- Students who are traveling with teachers on school trips
It is possible that you will end up paying additional charges of 30-40 Euros. Also, it’s important to note that the visa fees are non-refundable, even if you end up being denied entry to the Schengen zone.
How Long Does It Take to Process a Swiss Visa?
Applications for a Swiss Schengen visa are usually processed within the first 15 days. The process can sometimes take longer, so it’s recommended to submit your request for a visa a few months before your planned trip. You can submit a visa application 6 months earlier at most, but it’s generally not necessary to plan that far in advance.
In fact, visa applications often get processed even quicker, sometimes within the first 7 days. But it’s important to keep in mind that this depends on the nationality of the traveler because some Schengen countries reserve the right to be consulted when nationals of certain countries are applying. Also, it depends on the season, since there are generally more visa applications during the most popular travel times and fewer in the off-season.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the types of visas available for Switzerland?
There are four main types of visas that are available for Switzerland: the Swiss airport transit visa, the Swiss tourist visa, the Swiss student visa, and the Schengen visa for medical, cultural, or business purposes. Those are all visas for short stays of up to 90 days. It is necessary to apply for a national Switzerland visa for stays longer than 90 days.
Can I extend my visa while in Switzerland?
While it’s recommended you apply for the right visa before your trip, it is possible to extend your short-stay Schengen visa while you’re in Switzerland. But it’s not easy and it will take a very strong reason for your extension of visa application if you want to stay in the Schengen area for more than 90 days. Most tourist visa extensions get rejected, so keep that in mind and try to keep your stay in the Schengen zone under 90 days.
Can I travel to other Schengen countries with my Swiss visa?
Yes because Switzerland is part of the Schengen zone, so a valid visa for Switzerland is the same as a visa for Schengen. Foreign nationals in possession of s short-term stay Schengen visa can travel to any Schengen country, as long as their total amount of travel time in the Schengen area doesn’t exceed 90 days in a six-month period.