Visa – Entry to and residence in Switzerland

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.

Important COVID-19

From 20 July 2020, the normal entry requirements apply to any persons entering Switzerland from Canada. For more information, please visit 

State Secretariat for Migration SEM

Guidelines for holders of previously issued visas who cannot use them due to the current situation with the corona virus

Persons who already have a visa issued by Switzerland, but who cannot use it due to travel restrictions because of Corona, can receive a free substitute visa under the following conditions:

  • Submission of a new visa application dully completed and signed;
  • The documents must clearly show that the trip is a substitute journey, i.e. has the same purpose and duration;
  • One photo;
  • A (new) valid travel health insurance policy is available;
  • Travel document with the previously issued visa;
  • Proof of new travel arrangements;
  • There must be no entry restrictions;

This facilitation is only valid between 15 March and 30 September 2020.

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.

Airport transit visa

For citizens of certain countries who need a transit visa even if they are staying in the international transit area of the airport and do not enter the Schengen territory.

Labour / Work permits

Admission of foreign workers to an employer in Switzerland is subject to the authorisation of the competent cantonal authority. The entry visa is granted only when the requested authorisations have been delivered.

Authorized Visa

For applicants whose work or residence permit request was submitted directly in Switzerland and/or has now been authorized by the cantonal migration office.