There is a low rate of serious crime in Switzerland. However, the British Embassy has recently received increased reports of theft especially in larger cities, at Geneva airport and on trains to/from Geneva.
Watch out for pickpockets, confidence tricksters and thieves in city centres, airports, railway stations, on trains and in other public places. Don’t leave your luggage unattended at any time. Don´t keep your passport, credit cards and other valuables in the same place. Use the inside compartments in bags where possible. Carry your bag across your body rather than on your shoulder.
If you’re travelling by train, take precautions against being burgled, especially at night. Pickpockets can work in gangs: one to distract you while the other one goes into your bag. Keep your belongings close to you in restaurants and bars. Alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control, and less aware of your environment. If you’re going to drink, know your limit and take sensible precautions. Don’t become separated from friends.
This leaflet produced by the British Embassy and the Swiss transport police gives more advice on what to do if you’re pickpocketed, including useful contacts.
Foreign visitors and residents can be targeted by scam artists. Scams can cause great financial loss. If you receive an e-mail claiming to be from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs HMRC offering a tax refund on provision of your bank details you should make absolutely sure that it is not part of a scam.
Road users have to comply with Switzerland’s road regulations, such as speed limits, rules on alcohol intake and child security, or risk fines or other punishments.
Follow instructions given by local police and officials on the main alpine transit routes and in areas of heavy traffic congestion.
A reflective jacket and a warning triangle are compulsory and must be kept within easy reach (not in the boot). You must also have a first aid kit in the car. Radar detectors are prohibited in Switzerland whether in use or not. The limit for alcohol in the bloodstream is 0.5% and police may request any driver to undergo a breath test or drugs test. Swiss traffic regulations are strictly enforced. Any serious breach of the regulations can result in heavy fines and/or imprisonment.
The speed limit on Swiss motorways is 120km/h unless otherwise indicated. To travel on Swiss motorways, road users must purchase and display a vignette (sticker) or face large on the spot fines. You can buy a vignette at most border crossings, petrol stations, post offices, by phone (+800 1002 0030) and online. The price of a vignette is currently CHF 40.
Many roads are narrow and winding and road conditions can deteriorate fast even in summer, especially during heavy rainfall and subsequent snowfall at higher altitudes. You should reduce your speed significantly to suit the conditions.
Alpine winters often make driving more difficult. You should equip your car with winter tyres and snow-chains, and check road conditions prior to departure. The Swiss motoring organisation, TCS, has up-to-date information on its website.
Drivers must be 18 years of age and hold a full valid UK, or other EU/EEA, driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. There is no need for an International Driving Permit.
In 2014 there were 243 road deaths in Switzerland. This equates to 2.99 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.87 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2014 (source: Department for Transport).
Motorway journeys are usually trouble-free, but if you´re involved in a car accident, use the orange emergency phones to ask for help.
Information about rail services is available on the Swiss Travel System website.
Make sure your insurance covers you for sports activities such as skiing, potholing, mountain biking and mountaineering. Travel insurance should also include mountain rescue services and helicopter costs.
Many accidents happen due to insufficient information, inappropriate equipment or overestimation of your own capabilities. Don´t undertake any activity alone, and consider hiring a guide for expert advice. Always leave copies of your itinerary with someone. Follow the advice given by local authorities and guides. To ignore such advice could put yourself and other mountain users in danger.
The following alpine hazards exist throughout the year:
To check the latest avalanche risk, visit the website of the Swiss Federal Commission for Snow and Avalanche Research. Observe all warnings about avalanches and where appropriate consider carrying search equipment. Conditions on roads in mountainous areas can quickly become difficult in winter. You should carry water, food and warm clothing and medicines in your vehicle.
Off-piste skiing is highly dangerous. You should follow all safety instructions carefully given the danger of avalanches in some areas and particularly during times of heavy snow. Avalanche beepers (receivers) are the most common rescue devices and when properly used provide the fastest way of locating an avalanche victim.
Read more about how to stay safe on the slopes.
For more information and advice on enjoying outdoor activities safely and responsibly, visit the Official website of Swiss Tourism.
There is a low threat from terrorism, but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including those visited by foreigners.
There was a shooting in an Islamic Centre at Eisgasse near the main train station in Zurich on 19 December 2016. There are reports that 3 people were injured.
There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Smoking has been banned throughout Switzerland in the workplace and in most enclosed spaces accessible to the public, including bars, restaurants, cinemas, schools, shopping centres and sports centres. Exceptions can be made at a local level where smoking licences are sometimes granted to small restaurants, cafés and bars. Larger restaurants and bars have the option of providing separate areas for smokers.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
If you are a British Citizen or British Subject with Right of Abode in the United Kingdom, you will not need a visa to enter Switzerland. Other British passport holders should check entry requirements with the nearest Swiss Diplomatic mission.
Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.
For information and advice about Swiss customs regulations, visit the official website of the Swiss Customs Administration.
UK ETDs are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Switzerland.
Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website and by NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website.
If you’re visiting Switzerland you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. The EHIC isn’t a substitute for medical and travel insurance, but it entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Swiss nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the Department of Health Overseas Healthcare Team (+44 191 218 1999) to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate. The EHIC won’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or non-urgent treatment, so you should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.
There is an increased risk of tick bites from April to October. The Ministry for Health warns of a significant number of Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) cases annually. For more information read insect and tick bite avoidance
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 or 144 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.