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.

SEM

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

Applications for Schengen visas with Switzerland as the main destination can be submitted through TLScontact offices in London, Edinburgh and Manchester. Charges apply for these services.

TLScontact

The following visa categories have to book an appointment through TLScontact (Helpline 020 3915 6153) in order to submit the visa application in person at the Regional Consular Centre London, (Monday to Friday 09.00am to 11.30am, except on British and Swiss public holidays):

National visa for a stay of more than 90 days

  • Spouse permit
  • Student permit

Limited appointments available at the Regional Consular Centre for

  • EU Spouse visa
  • Tourist, Business and Visit visa

For requirements visit TLScontact, or call the TLScontact Helpline 020 3915 6153.

Walk-in visa categories 

Applications for the following permits and visas can be submitted in person at the Regional Consular Centre London (Monday to Friday 10.30am to 11.30am, except on British and Swiss public holidays):

  • Authorised work and entry permit
  • Diplomatic permit and visa
  • Visa for employment and internship in an international organisation (e.g. United Nations)
  • Visa for official invitations through international organisations (e.g. United Nations)

With the introduction of biometric visas all visa applications must be submitted in person as fingerprints have to be taken.

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.