Essential items for travelling including phone, camera, passport and map

ETIAS Travel Authorisation (Visa Waiver) for Switzerland

October 12, 2023 Last Updated on October 24, 2023

Anyone planning a trip to Switzerland from mid-2025 onwards needs to know all about the new ETIAS Travel Authorisation and how it will affect their trip.

The ETIAS is a visa waiver or travel authorisation, rather than a visa as such, and is expected to come into force during 2025. 

In short, the visa requirements for Switzerland will change in 2025. Most non-Europeans will require an ETIAS to enter the country.

This article outlines this alternative to a tourist visa for Switzerland, and how this is likely to affect your travel plans. 

From what it is to who needs one, when to apply, time scales, fees, validity, FAQs and where to get yours, this guide to the new Switzerland visa requirements shares all you need to know before you go. 

Read on so you’ll know how to enter Switzerland without delays or hassles. That way you can get right down to enjoying everything this incredible destination has to offer. 

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Toy aeroplane on open passport with visa stamp

What is the ETIAS?

ETIAS stands for the European Travel Information and Authorisation System.

In short, the ETIAS for Switzerland is an electronic travel authorisation, rather than a traditional visa. Instead of getting a Schengen visa for Switzerland, the ETIAS allows those who are eligible to enjoy short stays in all Schengen Area countries.

The introduction of the ETIAS is scheduled for the middle of 2025.

The ETIAS can be used by visa-exempt nationals in 30 European countries. It is valid for three years maximum, or runs out when the holder’s passport expires, whichever comes first.

A valid ETIAS allows travellers to enter the included European countries as often as required for a short-term stay.

Having an ETIAS does not guarantee entry, however. You will still need to show your passport and other documents to border control to prove you can satisfy the entry conditions.

🇨🇭 Read more helpful articles about planning your Swiss vacation here.

Who needs an ETIAS?

An ETIAS is required by residents of various visa-exempt countries across the world. These countries include Australia, Canada, Japan, the UK, the US and many more. 

Those who do need an ETIAS include non-EU nationals, namely those who would not require a visa for short stays in the European countries signed up to the ETIAS scheme. 

An ETIAS is not needed if your passport is from one of the 30 European countries that require an ETIAS for entry. For example, if you hold a passport from Austria, you will not require an ETIAS to enter Switzerland.

If you have a residence permit of some sort from one of these countries, then you may also be exempt. 

Map of Europe with Switzerland magnified

When can you apply for the ETIAS?

The ETIAS is expected to launch in 2025. For 180 days after the start date, there will be a grace period. During that time, any non-EU traveller who doesn’t require a visa will be offered the opportunity of completing an ETIAS application. 

How long does it take for the ETIAS to be issued?

It’s advisable to obtain your ETIAS before booking your trip. Most applications will be processed within four days, and often within a matter of minutes. 

However it can happen that more supporting information is required. You might need to provide further information or documentation, or even be interviewed. In such cases, it might take up to 30 days to get your ETIAS.  

What is the cost of an ETIAS?

An ETIAS is expected to cost EUR 7 for adults aged between 18 and 70. A payment card will be required to process this fee, and a range of online payment options will be offered.

Those aged under 18 or over 70 years of age don’t have to pay this fee. The family members of EU citizens or those with freedom of movement rights within the European Union are also exempt. 

Departure and arrivals sign at airport

How long will an ETIAS be valid? 

Your ETIAS will last for either three years, or until your passport runs out, whichever is sooner. Your passport or other travel document will need to be valid for at least three months from the date of your application. 

An ETIAS is designed for short-term stays. Once you have one, you can stay in the European countries that require this electronic travel authorisation for up to 90 days within one 180-day period.

Where to apply for an ETIAS

An application for the ETIAS is made online. You can either apply via the official website or the mobile app. 

When you apply, you will need a valid travel document. This must be under 10 years old, and have at least three months’ validity remaining.

Residents of certain countries who hold a particular type of passport – such as a non-biometric passport – may need to obtain a visa instead of an ETIAS. 

Will entry to Switzerland be refused if you don’t have an ETIAS?

If you do not have an ETIAS or any other type of travel authorisation – such as a visa, where required – then you will be unable to enter any of the 30 countries that require an ETIAS. This includes Switzerland. 

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Do US citizens need a visa for Switzerland?

Citizens of the US do not need a visa for a stay of 90 days or less within a 180-day period. Your passport should be valid for at least six months after your proposed date of departure from Switzerland.

This generally applies to anyone visiting for tourism, short term study, business, medical treatment and cultural or sporting events. 

However, from mid-2025, an electronic visa waiver known as the European Travel Information and Authorisation System will come into force. This will be required by travellers from countries whose citizens do not require a visa to enter Switzerland, including the US.

You can apply online for this, and most applications will be approved in minutes. 

In summary, citizens of the US do not need a visa for Switzerland but they will require an ETIAS visa waiver when it is introduced.

Do UK citizens need a visa for Switzerland?

As Switzerland is part of the Schengen area, UK citizens do not need a visa for short stays in Switzerland. This covers stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. 

From the middle of 2025, UK citizens will need an electronic visa waiver to enter 30 European nations, including Switzerland. This is known as an ETIAS and applications are made online. Most will be approved in minutes, or at least within four days. 

🇨🇭Planning to travel around Switzerland by train? Read our Swiss rail pass articles here.

What information will the ETIAS application require?

When applying for an ETIAS, you will need to give personal information including your name, gender, date and place of birth, nationality, home and email addresses and phone number.

Also required are the first names of your parents, the details of your travel document, your occupation and level of education, the European country you first intend to stay in and the destination address. 

You will also need to give details of any past criminal convictions or travels to war zones, and declare whether a return decision has recently applied to you.

Those stating that they have a family member who is a citizen of – or has free movement within – an ETIAS-requiring European country will also need to supply the personal information of that family member.

They will also need to declare the nature of their relationship with that family member.

Toy aeroplane on map of Europe

Is Switzerland part of the EU for travel purposes?

Switzerland lies within the Schengen area for the purposes of European travel. Like Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, the country is not an EU member state, however. 

From 2025, visitors to 30 European countries – including Switzerland – will require an ETIAS electronic travel authorisation to enter for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. 

Who can enter Switzerland without a visa?

Citizens of the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) don’t need a visa to enter Switzerland. Passport holders from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and EU member states also do not need a visa to enter Switzerland. 

A visa is not required for Switzerland in many other cases too, such as UK and US citizens, plus many more. Where this applies, however, an electronic travel authorisation known as ETIAS will be required from 2025. This can be obtained online, often in a matter of minutes. 

Will ETIAS replace the Schengen visa?

Once ETIAS comes into force, visitors to Europe with this electronic travel authorisation will not need a Schengen Visa. Travellers who aren’t eligible for an ETIAS visa waiver must hold a Schengen Visa, however.

Can you apply for ETIAS without confirmed travel plans?

Those applying for an ETIAS electronic travel authorisation will need to state the first European country they intend to stay in. However, it’s possible to change your plans and travel to any of the 30 ETIAS countries instead once you have the authorisation. 

Can I include family members in my ETIAS application?

An ETIAS is issued on an individual basis. Each ETIAS is issued to one person only, and connected solely to that person’s travel document. Every family member must therefore apply for their own ETIAS.

Can those with an ETIAS be refused entry?

Anyone with an ETIAS is still subject to the usual border and passport checks. If conditions are not met, then entry can still be refused. Having an ETIAS does not, therefore, 100% guarantee entry. 

Essential travel items including passport, hat, sunglasses, camera and phone on a map of the world

ETIAS Visa Waiver for Switzerland – Final Thoughts

Once it is introduced, getting an ETIAS in advance of travel is a simple way to minimise your chance of experiencing problems when trying to enter Switzerland as well as 29 other European countries. 

As you can apply online and will generally receive a decision in minutes, it’s also fuss-free, with a fee of just EUR 7 for adults. 

If you live in a country whose citizens do not require a visa to enter Switzerland, then from mid-2025 you must have an ETIAS. Such countries include the US, the UK, Canada and Australia.

Once you have the ETIAS, you can enter all 30 European countries covered by this electronic visa waiver. It lasts for three years or until your passport expires, and covers short stays of up to 90 days in any one 180-day period.

You can visit the official ETIAS website here.

Switzerland Travel Essentials