Expensive and pristine, Switzerland has a reputation for beauty, cleanliness, and sophistication. Its multilingual population of German, Italian, and French speakers live in charming alpine cities and towns, which offer some of the best skiing in the world.
You may need a visa to travel to Switzerland, depending on where you are from (nationality), the length of your trip (duration of stay), and your reason for travel (type of visa needed). There are numerous types of visas for Switzerland, which are valid for travel for specific purposes and times. Different Swiss visas have different Switzerland visa requirements and validity periods. In general, Swiss visas can be divided into two main categories: short stay visas and long stay visas (a long stay visa for Switzerland is required for those looking to spend more than 90 days in the country). Another main distinction relates to allowed entries: a single entry will allow you just one entry into the country; a multiple entry visa for Switzerland will let you enter and exit as many times as needed.
The below long stay visa to Switzerland allows you to stay in the country for up to one year. It is available for the following purposes:
The following documents are typically required for all visas to Switzerland:
Official, government-issued document, not older than 10 years, with the correct validity length (a minimum three months past the intended day of exit from Switzerland)
Your Switzerland visa fee will depend on the type of visa you are applying for, and possibly other factors, such as your age. Fees are generally non-refundable, even in the case of a denied visa
Two recently taken photos of the applicant. Photos should be passport style (and have passport dimensions).
You will almost certainly have to submit additional documents on your Swiss visa application. Requested documents are typically those which help visa authorities confirm your identity, determine the truthfulness of your stated purpose of travel, and assess your financial state. The type of Swiss visa you apply for will determine your supplemental documents, which may include the following:
Identity documents, such as your birth certificate
Documents showing your finances, such as your bank balance
Information about where you will stay in Switzerland
Proof of university education, etc.
Please note that all documents will likely need to be written in French, German, Italian, or English (or accompanied by official translations into one of these languages).
Applicants for Swiss visas should follow these general steps, which may vary slightly depending on numerous factors, including visa type and application destination.
Choose your visa duration
Determine how long you intend to be in Switzerland i.e. what type of Swiss visa you need: long, short, or airport. This will determine how you proceed with the subsequent application steps.
Select your Switzerland visa purpose
Choose your reason for travel (medical, work, etc.)
Select your entry category
Your selection of the single-entry visa for Switzerland or the multiple-entry visa for Switzerland will determine whether or not you may travel in and out of the country/Schengen area throughout your visa period. Consider that holders of the single-entry visa for Switzerland cannot return to the country after exiting.
Determine where to apply
Find your physical application destination (place where you will submit your visa application). This is typically the Swiss Embassy/Consulate or associated visa-application center where you live. For more information, see “where to apply.”
Access your main application form
Schengen visa applicants applying from certain destination will be able to apply via the online Swiss visa portal.
If you are unable to access the online form due to your application destination, or if you are applying for a long-term visa, you will likely apply directly through your local Swiss mission. Long term visa applicants can download and submit the national visa application form online.
Regardless of how you apply (online or in person) you will typically need to officially submit your application at your application destination, in order to fulfill various in-person requirements.
Gather the rest of your documents
Gather your required documents as well as the supplemental ones required for your specific Swiss visa type.
Depending on the type of visa you are applying for, you may be able to pay for your visa at this stage of the application (online). Alternatively, you will be asked to submit payment at step 5 (your visa interview).
Almost all Swiss visa applicants, even those who apply online, must attend a visa appointment at their application destination (local Swiss embassy/consulate/visa application center). Scheduling a Swiss visa interview can take days, weeks, or even months—if you apply through the Swiss visa portal, you should be able to schedule your interview online. Alternatively, you may need to reach out to your application destination directly (via email/phone) to make an appointment.
This is where you will submit your biometric information, be interviewed, and meet other requirements pertaining to your visa type. This is typically the final stage of the Switzerland visa application process; you will either be granted a visa upon the conclusion of your appointment, receive a rejection, or leave to await a decision.
Please note that certain visas may require subsequent steps (for example, if you are applying for a long term Switzerland Business visa or a Switzerland Working visa you may need to apply for a Switzerland Work Permit—other long term visas may require you to apply for a residence permit for Switzerland. For more information about whether your visa application for a Switzerland Working visa or a Switzerland Business visa will subsequently require you to seek a Switzerland Work Permit or a residence permit for Switzerland, make sure to research the specific visa requirements for your specific visa type.
Switzerland visa application processing occurs at your “application destination:” Swiss embassies and consulates (and their associated visa application centers) around the world. Depending on the type of Swiss visa you seek, you may be able to apply online (the Switzerland Schengen visa application—for example—is online). However, even online applicants must fulfill the in-person Switzerland visa requirements, which can only be fulfilled at your application destination. If you are outside of Switzerland and are applying for a Switzerland visa, you will apply through the Swiss embassy/consulate or visa application center where you live. If there is no Swiss mission in your country, you will likely apply for your Swiss visa through the embassy/consulate of another country, which is representing Switzerland’s interests abroad.
Applicants for short-stay visas to Switzerland are advised to submit their application a minimum of fourteen days before their intended trip. And while applying well in advance is recommended, applying too early (i.e. over six months before departure) is discouraged.
The Switzerland visa application processing time varies. Factors which determine how long it will take to get your visa include the following:
Depending on all of these factors, you could expect to receive a visa in days, weeks, or even months after you apply.
Depending on where you are from, you may need a visa to enter the country, regardless of how long you intend to stay. Some nationalities do not need a visa to travel to Switzerland. Regardless of your nationality, however, you will need a visa if you intend to stay in the country longer than 90 days and you are not an EU/EEA citizen.
Get a travel document for Switzerland (visa) by submitting an application to your local Swiss embassy/consulate/visa application center, meeting the visa requirements, and paying your visa fee.
The amount of money you need depends on the Schengen country you are visiting. You will likely need to show several months proof of salary/bank statements in order to meet the Schengen proof of funds requirement.
Choose from among the various types of Switzerland visa (Switzerland Tourist visa, etc.) you need to apply for by considering your reason for travel and how long you want to stay in the country. These factors will determine the type of visa you need. In addition to visa type, you should also determine how many entries you need i.e. whether you need a multiple entry visa for Switzerland or a single entry visa for Switzerland.
Rejected Schengen visa applicants can appeal the decision, reapply, or apply for another travel document for Switzerland (different Swiss visa, such as a Switzerland Student visa).