Two red Swiss passports
The Protocol Regulations contain important Protocol-related rules. © FDFA

Visiting cantons

Official visits by heads of mission to cantonal authorities are neither obligatory nor customary as the Swiss Constitution stipulates that foreign affairs fall under the remit of the Confederation.

Each canton can therefore decide itself whether and how to receive official guests.

Any visits that do take place should focus on cantons with which the state in question shares particular interests and has close ties – cantons where the state's consular representation is located, which share direct business interests with the state, or where many of the state's nationals are resident.

Heads of mission should ensure that the number of cantonal visits is limited to four per year and must submit a request via note verbale to FDFA Protocol, which coordinates with the cantons.

Only visits to the Canton of Bern and city and municipal governments can be organised directly by interested diplomatic missions. 

Presenting decorations and titles

As set out in the Protocol Regulations for the Swiss Confederation, a diplomatic mission whose government intends to award a decoration or title to a Swiss citizen is requested to consult FDFA Protocol in advance via note verbale. 

This must include the person’s first and last name, date of birth, current address and, if possible, profession. 

In accordance with Article 21(4) of the Federal Personnel Act , staff with Swiss nationality may not accept titles or decorations awarded by foreign authorities. This also applies to members of the Federal Assembly and Federal Council, judges of the Federal Supreme Court, Federal Administrative Court and Federal Criminal Court, Swiss military personnel, and staff of the Federal Institutes of Technology. 

Protocol Regulations for the Swiss Confederation

Article 21(4) of the Federal Personnel Act (de, fr, it)

Last update 03.08.2023


Secretariat of the Protocol

Federal Palace West Wing
3003 Bern

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