Issuance of Schengen visas; entry into, exit from and travel within the Schengen area

Last update: January 2011

Since December 2008 (the date of implementation of the association agreements of Switzerland to Schengen-Dublin concluded with the European Union), Switzerland has been applying the Schengen regulations concerning the issuance of visas. As of the above date, Switzerland has issued Schengen visas only (*)

The Schengen regulations apply to the examination of requests for short stay visas, the validity of which for the Schengen area does not exceed three months.(**) The issuance of long stay visas for more than three months remains subject to national procedures. Holders of these visas subsequently obtain a residence permit entitling them to travel freely for short stays throughout the Schengen area (***).

In accordance with the Vienna Convention of 18 April 1961 on diplomatic relations, which is applicable by analogy to Permanent Missions and to headquarters agreements, the application of the Schengen agreements and of the directives contained therein involves changes to the current visa issuance procedures.

For information concerning changes of procedure and methods of issuance of visas, it is recommended that you consult the Federal Office for Migration (FOM) web site or the diplomatic representation responsible for the applicant’s place of residence.

This note provides further details concerning in particular persons expected to come to Switzerland in an official capacity, whatever their type of passport, or coming for private visits if they are holders of diplomatic, service or special passports, as well as holders of a legitimation card of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). This especially concerns employees of organisations with which Switzerland has concluded a headquarters agreement, persons invited to take part in meetings held by these organisations or persons expected to come in an official capacity, members of the staff of diplomatic and consular representations in Switzerland and persons who are expected there in an official capacity, persons expected in the framework of good offices and private visitors who hold diplomatic, service or special passports.

* Swiss visas issued prior to the entry into force of the Schengen-Dublin agreements will remain valid, but only permit entry into Swiss sovereign territory.

** Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden. Visas valid for the Schengen area are also valid for Monaco. The UK issues visas that are identical to those used in the Schengen area, but are only valid for the UK.

*** Te following residence permits are recognised: FDFA legitimation card (all categories), permits B, C, L and national category D visa which states that it is valid as a residence permit.

**** The validity of the visa, i.e. the date after which the visa is no longer valid, should not be confused with the validity of the period of residence, i.e. the period in which the holder is permitted to stay in the Schengen area.