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Complete guide to obtaining a visa to transit through a Swiss airport, eligibility, requirements and FAQs

A Switzerland airport transit visa, also known as an A-visa, allows the carrier to transit through a Swiss airport in order to catch a connecting flight to a non-Schengen country. It falls under the short stay visa category of Switzerland.

If you have an airport transit visa for Switzerland, you are not allowed to leave the Swiss airport you are transiting through. You must wait for your connecting flight in the airport transit area, even if that means waiting in the airport overnight.

The Schengen states have a list of countries whose nationals require a transit visa to enter the Schengen area.

However, it is a relatively narrow list and most countries can transit through Switzerland and other Schengen states freely. Though, they are still not allowed to leave the airport.

How to Apply for a Switzerland Transit Visa?

You apply for a Swiss airport transit visa in the same way as for a regular, short-stay Swiss Visa. You must apply at the Swiss representation* (embassy or consulate) in your country. The process goes as follows:

Check if you need to apply for a Swiss transit visa

The only countries whose nationals require an airport transit visa for switching planes at a Swiss airport are:

Congo (Democratic Republic)Pakistan
EthiopiaSri Lanka

However, even if you are a citizen of the above-mentioned countries, there are exceptions to whether you need a Swiss airport transit visa. Keep in mind that you only need to apply for a Switzerland airport transit visa if your final destination is a non-Schengen country. If you are travelling to a Schengen country, you need a regular C-type Schengen visa.

Exemptions from the Swiss Airport Transit Visa

If you fall under one of the categories below, you are exempt from a Swiss airport transit visa, even if you are a citizen of a country which requires one (listed above).

  • If you hold a valid diplomatic, service or special passport.
  • If you are a family member of an EU or EEA citizen
  • If you hold a visa issued from:
  • If you hold a valid residence permit from:
    • A Schengen country
    • Bulgaria
    • Cyprus
    • Croatia
    • Ireland
    • Romania
    • Andorra
    • Canada
    • Japan
    • San Marino
    • United Kingdom
    • United States of America
  • If you are a flight crew member and a national of a contracting party to the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

Book a Swiss transit visa appointment beforehand

Depending on your country, you can do this online or in person. You must book an appointment. You cannot show up to submit an application without a prior appointment.

You must apply at least 15 days before your planned trip. It is recommended to apply as early as possible. However, keep in mind that the earliest you can apply is six months before your planned trip.

Fill the Swiss A visa application form and collect the required documents

If your country requires you to apply for a Swiss airport transit visa (and you are not exempt), you have to fill the following requirements:

Submit the application in person at the Swiss embassy/consulate and pay the application fee

If there is no Swiss embassy/consulate in your country, you must submit your application to the Schengen country that Switzerland has outsourced visa submissions to.

Transiting Through Switzerland Without an Airport Transit Visa

If you are not from a country who needs to apply for an airport transit visa, there are still conditions you have to meet. You can only transit through a Swiss airport if:

  • You do not leave the airport transit area.
  • You have a valid and recognized travel document (passport).
    • It must have been issued within the past 10 years and be valid at the time of transit.
  • You have all the necessary travel documents and visas for entering your final destination.
  • You already have a ticket for your connecting flight to your destination country.
    • You must have booked your connecting flight before you entered the Swiss airport.
  • The Schengen Information System (SIS) or national databases do not have an alert against you which refuses you entry.
  • You are not a threat to Switzerland’s internal security, public policy, public health or international relations.

How Long is a Swiss Airport Transit Visa Valid for?

The Swiss airport transit visa is valid for 24 hours. It is also only valid within the transit area of a Swiss airport.

If you want to leave the airport transit area or stay for longer than 24 hours, you need a regular, Swiss Schengen visa.

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