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What are the rules for travel between Switzerland and France this autumn?

If you're planning a trip over the border this autumn, here is what you need to know on the current rules on travel and health passes in France and Switzerland.

The Alps between France and Switzerland
If you're crossing the Alps, here is what you need to know. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

What are the rules for entering Switzerland from France?

The rules for entry from France, as an EU/EFTA country, are more relaxed than those from so-called ‘third countries’, i.e. outside the bloc. 

People entering Switzerland from France who have been fully vaccinated in the past 12 months or who have contracted the virus and recovered in the past six months will be able to enter without further testing or restriction. 

‘Travelcheck’: This tool shows you what you need to enter Switzerland

People who have not been vaccinated or recovered will need to show evidence of a negative PCR test (not older than 72 hours) or a negative rapid antigen test (not older than 48 hours).

Once in Switzerland, you will need to take another test between four and seven days after entry. If the stay is less than four days, the second test is not necessary. 

Please keep in mind that if you are arriving from somewhere outside the EU/EFTA countries, you will not be allowed to enter Switzerland unless you are vaccinated against Covid. 

UPDATE: Switzerland confirms only vaccinated Americans and Brits can enter

All travellers – whether vaccinated, recovered or with a negative test – must also complete the passenger locator form before entering Switzerland.

“This will enable the cantons to carry out random checks to determine whether people who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered and who entered the country with a test have actually taken the second test after four to seven days”, the Federal Council said.

Whoever violates these rules could incur a fine of 200 francs for entry without a test certificate and 100 francs for an incomplete form.

READ MORE: Here is the form you need to enter Switzerland

What about Switzerland’s Covid certificate? 

Since mid-September, anyone visiting a bar, restaurant, event or other location needs to show a valid Covid certificate, which is the name given to Switzerland’s Covid health pass. 

This certificate is not required to enter Switzerland – however it may make things a little easier. 

Issuing Covid certificates is up to health authorities in every canton. The process is similar in each one.

Fortunately, any EU-issued Covid passes – including France’s health pass – are accepted in Switzerland, meaning you will not need to get the Swiss Covid certificate to visit bars, etc. 

More information is available at the following link. 

Canton-by-canton: How visitors can get Switzerland’s Covid certificate

Entering France from Switzerland

France’s traffic light travel system classes all EU and Schengen zone countries (such as Switzerland) as green.

This means that if you are fully vaccinated you just need to show proof of vaccination at the border.

If you’re not vaccinated, you will need a negative Covid test (PCR or antigen) taken within the previous 72 hours.

All arrivals into France also need to complete a declaration stating that they are free of Covid symptoms, in practice this is not often checked, but to avoid possible delays at the border you can find the form HERE.

Once you are in France no further checks or tests are required, even for unvaccinated arrivals.

And the French health pass?

You will, however, need the French pass sanitaire (health pass) to enter a wide range of venues including bars, restaurants, tourist sites, leisure centres and for long-distance train travel.

READ ALSO When and where you need the French health pass

If you were vaccinated in Switzerland than your Swiss QR code is compatible with the French TousAntiCovid app, which is used for the health pass. You can also show proof of vaccination on paper, as long as the certificate has the QR code on it.

The same is true for people vaccinated in any EU or Schengen country, but if you were vaccinated in a non-EU country than you will need to either obtain a French code or, if you were vaccinated in England, Wales or Scotland, upload your NHS pass to the French app.

If you’re not vaccinated you will need a Covid test every 72 hours in order to keep your health pass valid. Covid tests in France are easily accessible via pharmacies, but tourists and unvaccinated residents must pay for their tests.

Remember also that masks are compulsory in all indoor public spaces not covered by the health pass (such as shops) and on all public transport.

The French/Swiss border

Like all Schengen borders, the one between France and Switzerland is pretty relaxed when it comes to security checks.

If you’re flying the checks are stricter, but if you travel by car or train then it’s highly likely that your travel documents will not be checked at the border.

However just because checks are rare doesn’t mean that they never happen and if you’re at the border without the necessary documents you can and will be refused entry

Those who do not have the requisite documentation also face stiff fines.  

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‘Arrive early’: Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

Europe's airports chief told passengers to leave time for delays this summer as the air travel industry struggles to meet surging demand after the pandemic.

'Arrive early': Passengers at European airports warned of travel disruption

“The clear conjunction of a much quicker recovery with a very tight labour market is creating a lot of problems,” Olivier Jankovec, head of the Europe branch of the Airports Council International (ACI), told AFP.

He said there were issues from airports to airlines, ground handlers, police and border controls, but insisted: “The system still works”.

READ ALSO: Budget airline passengers in Europe face travel headaches as more strikes called

“It’s important for passengers that they communicate with the airlines in terms of when they should get to the airport, and prepare to come earlier than usual to make sure to have the time to go through, especially if they have to check luggage,” he said.

Strikes by low-cost pilots and cabin crew across Europe – including this weekend – are adding to the disruption.

Speaking at the ACI Europe annual congress in Rome, Jankovec said airports had taken measures to improve the situation, which would come into effect from mid-July.

“Additional staff will be coming in July, the reconfiguration of some of the facilities and infrastructure to facilitate the flows will also come into effect in July,” he said.

“I think it will be tight, there will be some disruptions, there will be longer waiting times.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

“But I think that in the vast majority of airports, the traffic will go, people will not miss their planes, and hopefully everybody will be able to reach their destination as planned.”

He also defended increases in airport charges, after criticism from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines.

Airports face “the same difficulties and inflationary pressures” as airlines, which he noted were putting their fares up, he said.

“Staff and energy is 45 percent of our operating costs, and of course inflation is also driving up the cost of materials,” he said.