Switzerland opens up to fully-vaccinated Indian travellers

Switzerland has, in a recent move, updated their guidance, opening up the country to travellers from countries which have the Variant of Concern in circulation. Subseqently, On June 26, 2021, Switzerland issued a new notification, announcing that they will start issuing Type-C Schengen Visas for Switzerland to Indians.  Here is a lowdown of what has undergone so far.

Restrictions on entering Switzerland to be relaxed

The Federal Council of Switzerland has decided to relax the requirements for entering Switzerland. Persons entering from the Schengen area will no longer be required to quarantine. The requirement to be tested will now apply only to persons arriving by plane who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered from COVID-19. Contact details will still be required when arriving by plane. In addition, Switzerland is easing the existing entry restrictions for persons arriving from third countries who can prove they have been vaccinated.

Entry from a country with a variant of the virus of concern

The current list of high-risk countries issued by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health will only contain countries or regions where virus variants of concern to Switzerland are in circulation. Persons who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from the disease will be permitted to enter Switzerland from these countries or regions without having to be tested or to quarantine as long as it is certain that the vaccination offers good protection. Those who have neither been vaccinated nor have recovered must present a negative PCR test or rapid antigen test and go into quarantine on entry.

In practice, this means that persons who have been vaccinated or who have recovered do not have to produce a negative test even when travelling from countries where the Delta variant is widespread (such as India or the United Kingdom) and do not have to quarantine on entry. The vaccines used in Switzerland are only slightly less effective against the Delta variant and thus still offer a very high level of protection.

Switzerland’s new rules for providing Visas to Indians

The Embassy of Switzerland in New Delhi is currently accepting all visa categories for persons arriving from third countries like India, who can prove, that they have been fully vaccinated. Booking of a prior appointment is mandatory for all application type. VFS Global Services is operational and accepting visa applications at their centres in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin and Hyderabad.

While these will be the usual Schengen Visas, movement between Switzerland and the other countries of Europe may not be allowed at the moment. The Swiss embassy in India has clarified that if the Schengen Visas expired due to Covid-related travel restrictions, there would be no replacement of those visas for free. Also, only a Schengen Type C visa issued after March 16, 2020 will be accepted.

For fully vaccinated third-country nationals with CHE, EU and WHO recognised vaccines, the regular entry requirements will be applicable again from June 26, 2021. This also means that these travellers no longer have to be quarantined for ten days after arriving in Switzerland. Since CoviShield, the SII-licensed version of Astra Zenaca’s Vaxzevria vaccine is on the WHO list for Emergency Use, this will make it possible for Indian passport holders who want to travel to Switzerland to also obtain a visa for their travels.

Even without being fully-vaccinated, or being vaccinated with Covaxin, you can travel from India to Switzerland, however, you will need to quarantine in the country for 10-days on arrival.

Here is how you can check if you are eligible to travel to Switzerland under your current conditions.

No Direct Flights between India and Switzerland

One thing of note is that at the moment, there are no flights operating between India and Switzerland. Given air travel is not opened up fully at the moment from India, and there are no air bubble agreements between India and Switzerland for now, the only way to get there would be via another European country or get on a private jet.

Bottomline

Incase you are one of the approximately 4% of Indians who are already vaccinated (and have been vaccinated with the CoviShield) vaccine, you are now eligible to fly from India to Switzerland and arrive without a ten-day quarantine. Visa issuance for Swiss Visas has resumed, however, would take about a fortnight to get your visa.

What do you make of this announcement, and as one of the only countries open to Indians for now, would you travel to Switzerland if you had the opportunity this summer?


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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the informative article.
    What about kids under 12, can they travel?

    As nowhere they are being vaccinated..

  2. Glad that Switzerland is taking a much saner approach especially compared to Australia. The Swiss certainly are smart and only take calculated risks.

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