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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Switzerland

Switzerland and Liechtenstein - Consular Information Sheet
September 4, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTIONS: Switzerland is a highly developed democracy. Liechtenstein is a democratically run constitutional monarchy.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required for travel to both Switzerland and Liechtenstein. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens for stays of up to 90 days in either country. For more information on entry requirements for both countries, travelers may contact the Embassy of Switzerland at 2900 Cathedral Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 745-7900, or the nearest Swiss Consulate General in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, or San Francisco. Additional information for both countries is available at http://www.swissemb.org.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated new procedures at entry/exit points. These procedures often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for a child to travel, if the parent(s) or legal guardian is not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

DUAL NATIONALITY: U.S. citizens who are also considered by the Swiss Government to have Swiss citizenship may be subject to compulsory military service and other requirements while in Switzerland. Those who might be affected should inquire at a Swiss Embassy or Consulate regarding their status. In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. government efforts to provide protection abroad. In addition to being subject to all Swiss laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Swiss citizens. For additional information, see Dual Nationality flyer.

CRIME: Switzerland has a low rate of violent crime. However, pick-pocketing and purse snatching do occur in the vicinity of train and bus stations, airports, and some public parks, especially during peak tourist periods (such as summer and Christmas) and when conferences, shows, or exhibits are scheduled in major cities. Liechtenstein has a low crime rate.

Travelers may wish to exercise caution on trains, especially on overnight trains to neighboring countries. Even locked sleeping compartments can be entered by thieves, who steal from passengers while they sleep. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, and via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su docs, .

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Good medical care is widely available. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost many thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including provision for mountain rescue and/or medical evacuation, is strongly advised, particularly for those who plan to participate in mountain activities (summer or winter). Rescue insurance is available inexpensively in Switzerland. Information can be obtained from the Swiss National Tourist Office or the U.S. Embassy in Bern. Such insurance has proved useful as uninsured rescues can easily cost $25,000 or more.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for International Travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via their Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Switzerland and Liechtenstein is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of public transportation: Excellent
Urban road conditions/maintenance: Excellent
Rural road conditions/maintenance: Excellent
Availability of roadside assistance: Excellent

Although many roads are mountainous and winding, road safety standards are high. In some mountain areas, vehicle snow chains are required in winter. Road travel can be more dangerous during summer, winter holidays, and Whitsunday weekend (late spring) because of increased traffic. Travel on highways (indicated by green signs with a white highway symbol) requires purchase of a sticker ("vignette") which must be affixed to the car's windshield. Vignettes can be purchased at most border crossing points and at Swiss post offices. Drivers using the highway system without a vignette are subject to hefty fines levied on the spot. All forms of public transportation in Switzerland and Liechtenstein are generally excellent.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Swiss civil aviation authority's oversight of Switzerland's air carrier operations as category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards.. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/
avr/iasa/index/htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at 703-697-7288.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Switzerland's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporair/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y. 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call 212-354-4480, send an e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Sometimes these laws can differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to individuals under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. In Switzerland and Liechtenstein, penalties for possession, use, and dealing in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on the international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/childrens-issues.html or tel. (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: U.S. citizens may register and obtain updated information on travel and security within Switzerland at the locations below:

The U.S. Embassy in Bern is located at Jubilaeumstrasse 93,Telephone (41)(31) 357-7011, FAX (41)(31) 357-7280.

The 24 hours emergency telephone number is (41)(31) 357-7218. The U.S. Embassy website at http://www.us-embassy.ch answers many questions of interest to Americans visiting and residing in Switzerland.

The U.S. Consular Agency in Zurich is located at the American Center of Zurich, Dufourstrasse 101, 8008 Zurich, telephone (41)(1) 422-2566, FAX(41) (1) 383-9814.

The U.S. Consular Agency in Geneva is located at the American Center Geneva, 7 Rue Versonnex, 1207 Geneva, telephone (41)(22) 840-5160, fax (41)(22) 840-5162.

U.S. Consular Agencies offer limited consular services to U.S. citizens.

There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Liechtenstein. For assistance and information on travel and security in Liechtenstein, U.S. citizens may contact or register at the U.S. Embassy in Bern at the address above.


This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated September 9, 1999, to update information on Medical Insurance and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.

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