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Switzerland country information

Switzerland map
Swiss Confederation
Area: 41,284 sq km
Population: 7,689,100
Population density: 181 per sq km
Capital: Berne
Passport & Visa
Visa Required?
British No
Australian No
Canadian No
Other EU No


Passport valid for three months after intended period of stay required by all nationals referred to in the chart above except: 
1. nationals of the EU, except for Bulgaria and Romania, holding a valid national identity card, providing not taking up employment, for stays of up to three months; 
2. nationals of Austria, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain with normal passports, expired for up to five years, providing not taking up employment, for stays of up to three months; 
3. nationals of Germany with passports expired for up to one year.

Passport Note

Switzerland joined the Schengen Agreement on 12 December 2008.

Regulations also apply to Liechtenstein (no border control between the two countries).

Passengers arriving at Basel or Geneva airports can enter either France or Switzerland, provided their documents for the country of entry are in order; both airports have two different exits, one to France and one to Switzerland. Therefore passengers can exit to the French part of the airport with a valid French or Schengen visa, if required.

The airport of Basel/Mulhouse is located on French territory.

Part of Geneva airport is located by convention in France and some flights between France and Geneva are considered as domestic flights while others are considered international flights. In this case, passengers must hold proper entry documents for either of the destination countries.


Not required by all nationals referred to in the chart above for stays of up to three months.

Visa Note

(a) Tourists and business visitors who travel repeatedly to Switzerland but stay less than three months each time must apply for a residence permit if their total stay exceeds six months within a period of 12 months.
(b) Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements.
Getting there

Getting There by Air

The national airline is Swiss (LX) (website: ).

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Basle, Bern, Geneva or Zürich is 1 hour 50 minutes. From New York to Geneva is 9 hours 45 minutes and to Zürich is 7 hours 20 minutes.

Main Airports

Zürich (ZRH) (Kloten) (website: ) is 11km (7 miles) from the city (journey time - 20 minutes). To/from the airport: Trains run from under Terminal B. Regional and night buses are available. Passengers arriving in Switzerland by air can purchase a special Fly-Rail Luggage ticket from their airport of departure which will enable them to have their luggage delivered directly to a Swiss railway station. With the Fly-Rail Baggage service, passengers leaving Switzerland can check their bags in at the railway station up to 24 hours before their flight. Taxis to the city are available (journey time - 15-30 minutes). Facilities: Duty-free shops, restaurants/bars, banks, bureau de change, nursery and car hire.

Geneva (GVA) (website: ) is 5km (3 miles) north of the city. To/from the city: Taxis to the city are available. There is a regular train service to Geneva Cornavin Station (journey time - 6 minutes). Bus 10 runs from the airport to the city centre.

Bern (BRN) (Belp) (website: ) is 9km (5.5 miles) southeast of the city (journey time - 20-30 minutes). To/from the airport: Bus services are available to Bern station. A rail service runs from Bern to Zürich Airport. Taxis are also available.

Basel (BSL) (Basel-Mulhouse) (website: ) is 12km (7 miles) from the city. To/from the airport: Bus 50 runs from the airport to Basel railway station. Taxis are also available.
Departure Tax

Getting There by Rail

Travelling from the UK, the quickest way is to travel by Eurostar through the Channel Tunnel to Paris (journey time - 2 hours 40 minutes) and, from there, to Switzerland. For further information and reservations contact Eurostar (tel: 0870 518 6186, in the UK or +44 1233 617 575, outside the UK; website: ); or Rail Europe (tel: 0844 848 4064, in the UK; website: ).

Other connections from London via the main channel crossings are available (minimum journey time of about 14 to 15 hours to Basle and Lausanne, the main points of entry). There are also through trains from Spain, Italy and Germany.
Rail Passes
InterRail: offers unlimited first- or second-class travel in up to 30 European countries for European residents of over six months with two pass options. The Global Pass allows travel for 22 days, one month, five days in 10 days or 10 days in 22 days across all countries. The One-Country Pass offers travel for three, four, six or eight days in one month in any of the countries except Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Travel is not allowed in the passenger's country of residence. Travellers under 26 years receive a reduction. Children's tickets are reduced by about 50%. Supplements are required for some high-speed services, seat reservations and couchettes. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from Rail Europe (website: ).

Eurailpass: offers unlimited first-class train travel in 17 European countries. Tickets are valid for 15 days, 21 days, one month, two months or three months. The Eurailpass Saver ticket offers discounts for two or more people travelling together. The Eurailpass Youth ticket is available to those aged under 26 and offers unlimited second-class train travel. The Eurailpass Flexi allows either 10 or 15 travel days within a two month period. The Eurail Selectpass is valid in three, four or five bordering countries and allows five, six, eight or 10 travel days (or 15 for five countries) in a two-month period. The Eurail Regional Pass allows four to 10 travel days in a two-month period in one of nine regions (usually two or more countries). Children receive a 50% reduction. The passes cannot be sold to residents of Europe, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia or the Russian Federation. Available from The Eurail Group (website: ).

Getting There by Road

Switzerland can be reached by road from Austria, France, Germany, Liechtenstein and Italy. Some approximate driving times to Geneva and Zürich by the most direct routes are: Calais-Geneva: 12 to 13 hours (747km/464 miles); Dunkirk-Geneva: 12 to 13 hours (732km/454 miles); Calais-Zürich: 13 to 14 hours (790km/490 miles); Dunkirk-Zürich: 14 to 15 hours (880km/ 546 miles).

There are coach services to Switzerland as well as scheduled coach tour operators. Contact Switzerland Tourism for further details. Eurolines (tel: 0870 580 8080; website: ) serves Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Fribourg, Lausanne and Bern from most major European cities (journey time from London - approximately 18 hours).
Cycling & Maps
Cost of living
Food & drink
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climate chart Basel climate chart Geneva
climate chart Lugano climate chart Zurich
Road distances
Switzerland road distance chart
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