Vaccination and Covid certificate for the Swiss abroad – a brief report on the situation

“Can I get vaccinated as a Swiss abroad? I have been vaccinated once – can I get my second dose when I visit Switzerland on holiday? As a Swiss citizen living abroad, is it possible to get vaccinated during a holiday visit to Switzerland? Is it possible to have my international vaccination certificate converted into a Swiss Covid certificate?”

These and other questions are on our minds and those of our members in the middle of 2021. Still not all Swiss abroad have access to a Covid vaccination or a Covid certificate in their country of residence. Vaccination in Switzerland and access to a Covid certificate can be a relief. But is vaccination for the Swiss abroad and consequently obtaining a Swiss Covid certificate during a visit to Switzerland possible at all? Until now, only very few Swiss abroad have had access to vaccination in Switzerland.

On 25.08.2021, the Federal Council decided that, with immediate effect, Swiss abroad without compulsory health insurance can also be vaccinated in Switzerland.

Federal press release of 25 August 2021: “The Federal Council has today decided to amend the Epidemics Ordinance. This means that Swiss citizens living abroad, and their immediate family (partners, children, parents and parents-in-law living in the same household) and cross-border commuters who do not have compulsory health insurance in Switzerland can be vaccinated in Switzerland. The vaccination costs will be assumed by the Confederation as requested by the cantons.”

We consider this amendment to the Epidemics Ordinance to be an important step and are pleased that the decision was made in favour of the Swiss abroad.

Our conclusion on vaccination
The initial situation regarding “vaccination of the Swiss abroad” has now been clarified by the federal government: vaccination will in future be open to everyone, even without compulsory health insurance. Implementation remains with the cantons. Since the Confederation will cover the costs – and there is currently also enough vaccine available – vaccination should be possible in all cantons with immediate effect.

The matter of the vaccination certificate is still not entirely satisfactory. We have received cases in which the Covid certificate was obtained without any problems after sending in the vaccination certificate with a vaccine recognised in Switzerland; others report that they were unable to obtain the certificate. Here, the FOPH points out that a residence or a residence permit level B or higher must be available in order to convert/obtain the certificate. Consult the respective cantonal websites regarding the certificate.

A Covid certificate from the EU is also valid in Switzerland, even if the vaccine is not recognised in Switzerland itself. In this case, it is not possible to convert it into a Swiss Covid certificate, but you are still in possession of a valid certificate. The situation is more complicated for Swiss citizens who have a certificate that comes from outside the EU.

New questions will arise with the probably soon to be introduced certificate obligation in Switzerland: To what extent will tourists, returnees, Swiss abroad be able to enter restaurants or attend indoor cultural events when visiting Switzerland on holiday with the certificate of their country of domicile? Is conversion possible, do we need a test – if so which one, and who will pay for the tests?

We will continue to stay on the ball for you and keep ourselves informed about the currently applicable rules. Whenever we can, we will advise you on these and other questions about life as a traveller, emigrant and returnee to Switzerland.

Photo by Braňo on Unsplash