Switzerland Travel Tips
Swiss Franc (CHF)= 100 rappen or centimes. Notes are in denominations of CHF1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of CHF5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10 and 5 centimes.
There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currencies.
You can exchange money and travellers checks between 06:00 and 21:00 (sometimes 23:00) in exchange bureaus in airports and railway stations. Banks are open Monday to Friday 08:30-16:30. Many large banks stay open until 18:00 one day every week.
Personal checks within the Euro check system are no longer guaranteed and cannot be accepted for exchange; however, they may be useable for payments without the guarantee.
ATMs provide a convenient means of obtaining Swiss Francs. There are Bureaus de Change at train stations and banks.
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted and cash advancements are possible. Check with your credit or debit Card Company for details of merchant acceptability and other facilities which may be available.
Pound Sterling, US Dollar, Euro or Swiss Franc checks are accepted at airports, railway stations and banks. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, traveller's checks should be issued in Pounds Sterling, Euros or US Dollars.
The following items may be imported into Switzerland by persons over 17 years of age without incurring customs duty by:
Visitors from European countries:
200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 2l of alcohol (up to 15 per cent) and 1 litre of alcohol (over 15 per cent); gifts up to a value of CHF300.
Visitors from non-European countries:
400 cigarettes or 100 cigars or 500g of tobacco; 2l of alcohol (up to 15 per cent) and 1 litre of alcohol (over 15 per cent); gifts up to a value of CHF300.
Most meat and processed meat, absinthe and narcotics are prohibited. There are strict regulations on importing animals and firearms.
220 volts AC, 50Hz
Switzerland is one of the cleanest and healthiest countries in the world. Tap water is drinkable and so is the water from the thousands of water fountains throughout the country. Occasionally you will come across a tap or fountain labeled Kein Trinkwasser oreau non potable, which means that it’s not drinking quality.
No immunizations are required to enter Switzerland, unless you are coming from a yellow fever infected area. If you plan to do a lot of hiking or walking in rural areas, you may want to consider immunization against tick-borne encephalitis. Consult with your local doctor and allow ample time for any shots, ideally six weeks before departure. Visit www.cdc.gov for more information on disease control.
Switzerland is at a high altitude, therefore sunburn can happen quickly. Be sure to wear sunglasses, sunscreen and/or a hat, even if it’s cold and cloudy.
Altitude sickness can occur at heights above 3000 meters, although very few of Switzerland’s treks or ski runs reach above 3000 meters, with the exception of Mont Blanc. Altitude sickness is unlikely, however if you experience symptoms of headache, vomiting and difficulty breathing, head to a lower altitude and rest. If symptoms get worse, seek medical advice immediately.
If you are taking medication, bring along an adequate supply and know its generic name in case you need a refill as brand names may vary.
Medical facilities in Switzerland are among the best in Europe, but treatment is expensive. You will normally have to pay the full costs for treatment and services and claim a refund afterwards. You will have to pay a fixed charge for each 30-day period of treatment. This is known as the 'excess charge' or 'patient's contribution' and is not refunded. It is recommended that all visitors take out adequate private travel insurance.
European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland have reciprocal health care agreements, giving free or reduced-cost necessary treatment with production of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Some restrictions apply, depending on your nationality. Note that the EHIC replaces the Form E111, which is no longer valid after 31 December 2005.
German is spoken in central and eastern areas, French in the west and Italian in the south. Raeto-Romansch is spoken in the southeast. English is widely spoken.
Country code: 41
Full IDD is available.
Phone cards are available for use in payphones.
Air Rescue: 1414
Vehicle Breakdown: 140
A Swiss Value Added Tax (VAT) of 7.6% is levied on the purchase of goods and services. VAT is easily reimbursed if using the Global Refund system. Visit www.globalrefund.com for further information.
A service charge is included in all hotel, restaurant, cafe, bar, taxi and hairdressing services by law; further gratuities are not usually required.
GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October)
It is customary to give unwrapped flowers to the hostess when invited for a meal. Never give chrysanthemums or white asters as they are considered funeral flowers. Informal wear is widely acceptable. First-class restaurants, hotel dining rooms and important social occasions may warrant jackets and ties. Black tie is usually specified when required.
A passport is required which is valid for at least 6 months after your intended period of stay.
Visas for EU or USA nationals are not required unless staying for more than 3 months. All other nationalities must apply for a visa at any Swiss Embassy or Consulate.
Travellers from Europe need a valid passport or identity card. Travellers from some Eastern European countries also need a visa.
Embassy of Switzerland in the USA