For members


Travel between Switzerland and the UK: What am I allowed in my suitcase?

This is the first Christmas since Brexit officially came into force. While Switzerland is not in the EU, it does make a difference to travellers heading to or from the UK. Here's what you need to know about the new rules and what you can - and cannot - pack.

Airline staff in masks walk past an international arrivals sign at Heathrow Airport
Flying to the UK from Switzerland - or heading back in the other direction? Here's what you can bring. Photo TOLGA AKMEN / AFP

Although Switzerland is not in the European Union, the alpine nation is grouped with the EU by the UK when it comes to the rules for importing food and drink (along with Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the Faroe Islands and Greenland). 

Meat, fish and animal products

The rules on bringing meat, dairy, fish and other animal products into the UK are relatively relaxed.

The key factor in considering what you can bring into the UK is ‘personal use’. There are no set limits on this, which means the allowance is relatively generous – but if you bring in a pallet with 400 kilos of rare blood tongue sausage, people might start asking questions. 

READ MORE: Three things to know about Switzerland’s protected ‘blood tongue sausage’

You can bring in meat, fish, dairy and other animal products as long as they’re from Switzerland, the EU or the other countries on the UK’s list (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the Faroe Islands and Greenland). 

What about booze? 

Whether you want to bring in some of Switzerland’s finest beers, wines and schnapps as a gift for your family or friends – or simply to help you get through Christmas dinner – you can, but there are some limits on how much booze you can bring to the UK from Switzerland. 

How much you can take depends on the type of alcohol, although the upper limits are pretty generous, as you can see below. 


  • beer – 42 litres
  • still wine – 18 litres (or 24 standard size bottles)
  • spirits and other liquors over 22 percent alcohol – 4 litres (or 6 standard-sized bottles)
  • sparkling wine, fortified wine (port, sherry etc) and other alcoholic drinks up to 22 percent alcohol (not including beer or still wine) – 9 litres (or 12 standard sized bottles)

It’s worth knowing that you can split your allowance, for example you could bring 4.5 litres of fortified wine and 2 litres of spirits. 

Travel: What are Switzerland’s Covid test requirements?

The allowance is per person, so if you’re travelling in a car with two people over the age of 18, you can bring back double the amounts listed above.

What can I bring to Switzerland from the UK? 

As illustrated above, there are relatively few restrictions when heading to the UK – but it’s the trip back where Brexit really starts to bite. 

As the UK is now considered a ‘third’ country rather than a member of the EU, Switzerland puts in place relatively strict restrictions on what can be brought in. 

First things first, you can only import things for personal use. From there, you’ve got a limit of CHF300 (£240) – if it’s above that, you need to pay VAT. 

This does not include things that you use regularly, i.e. if you bring your iPhone in that you use regularly, you will not need to pay VAT on it. 

Ready to eat food and drink for the day of travel is also allowed. 

The importation of any form of meat is banned, while dairy products are heavily restricted. 

You are allowed to bring in baked goods like biscuits, while chocolate and sweets are an exception to the dairy rule. 

Egg or fish products are allowed, provided less than half of the food product itself consists of fish or egg. 

You can bring in baby milk powder up to 2 kilograms, along with meat extracts and concentrates (like soup stocks). 

READ MORE: What are the Covid rules for Switzerland’s Christmas markets?

Please check out the following link for rules related to the specific amount of imports. 

What about booze? 

As long as you don’t exceed CHF300 (£240), you can bring in whatever type of booze you like to Switzerland from the UK, although there are some limits on particular categories.

You are allowed a maximum of one litre of booze over 18 percent alcohol by volume. 

You can bring in five litres of alcohol under 18 percent. 

If you want to bring in some fine British tobacco, you are allowed 250 units of cigarettes, cigars or other tobacco products.  

More information about the specific types of alcohol products is available at the following link. 

A comprehensive list of what you can and cannot bring into Switzerland is available at the following link.

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For members


Why are flights to and from Switzerland so expensive this summer?

Airline activity to and from Switzerland has almost fully recovered after travel bans during the pandemic, yet prices are soaring. Here’s why.

Why are flights to and from Switzerland so expensive this summer?

If you’ve been searching for flights to or from Switzerland during the summer, you may have noticed that prices are higher compared to previous years. Flight prices have in fact risen by 36 percent compared to pre-pandemic times, according to estimates. 

This trend of soaring prices is not limited to Switzerland alone; it is happening across Europe.

In an interview with Bild am Sonntag, TUI CEO Sebastian Ebel announced that there would be no last-minute offers this summer and that the days of cheap flights are over.

Ebel explained that travellers’ booking habits – namely booking tickets shortly before departure – are likely to lead to a further rise in ticket prices. “Spontaneous bargains will be the absolute exception,” he said.

Ryanair Austria head Andreas Gruber issued similar sentiments, stating that the days of flying almost for free are over. “There will be no more 10-euro tickets,” he said in September 2022. Currently, the cheapest ticket you can book with Ryanair costs 25 euros.

Unfortunately, airfare inflation has continued to rise.

The average price for a Ryanair flight will rise from 40 to 50 euros in the future. Still, the Irish airline expects the number of passengers to grow in the coming months as people start looking for cheaper transportation with the rising cost of living.

Rush to travel

Several factors contribute to these price hikes. The unexpected rush to travel after the pandemic caught the industry off guard and led to chaos at some European airports last summer due to staffing shortages.

Despite the return of passengers, business travellers have not returned in the same numbers as before, partly due to the newfound convenience of virtual meetings. In addition, the slow recovery has impacted the profitability of specific flights, prompting some airlines to discontinue routes altogether.

Fuel costs, which account for approximately one-third of ticket prices, are often cited as a reason for the price increase, even though the price of oil per barrel is falling. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) attributes the price hikes to the rising cost of kerosene, explaining that “high fuel prices, as well as other inflationary cost increases, can impact ticket prices if airlines are unable to absorb or avoid these costs.”

Johan Lundgren, CEO of EasyJet, noted that the ban on flying over Russia has increased travel time by one to two hours for certain Asian destinations, adding to the costs of long-haul flights, according to airlines.

Commercial planes of Swiss air lines, Lufthansa and Spanish low-cost airline Vueling parked on the tarmac of Geneva Airport on May 4th, 2023. (

Commercial planes of Swiss air lines, Lufthansa and Spanish low-cost airline Vueling parked on the tarmac of Geneva Airport on May 4th, 2023. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

SWISS prices set to soar

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) announced upcoming summer increases in a Blick interview last year. CEO Dieter Vranckx said that the airline’s sustainability efforts, among other things, are behind the price surge.

Meanwhile, aviation expert Andreas Wittmer from the University of St. Gallen told SRF that “in order to achieve the climate targets set by 2050, the aviation industry must invest – especially in so-called sustainable fuels”.

These investments will then likely result in higher ticket prices.

In line with that, SWISS announced that it has embarked on a pioneering new partnership with luxury Swiss hotel Gstaad Palace earlier this month which will see the latter procure sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for all its business travel on SWISS.

Moreover, SWISS said that it will continue to offer customers very attractive and competitive prices, though it noted that prices in aviation are more dynamic than in most other industries and that the increase in pricing has to do with supply and demand.

To compare: an Economy Light return ticket for a flight leaving Zurich Airport for London Heathrow (LHR) on July 21st (until July 24th) will set you back an average 350 francs and from Geneva Airport to LHR around 240 francs.

Travelling from Zurich (Geneva) to London Gatwick on the same days via easyJet with only hand luggage in tow will still cost you 206 (134) francs.

Though Basel is not serviced by SWISS, you can head to London Gatwick for a cool 158 francs over the same time period.

READ MORE: How SWISS is expanding flight connections this year

But the higher prices are unlikely to put passengers off their summer vacation entirely.

SWISS stated that it still expects to report total available seat-kilometres (ASK) production for 2023 that is as high as 85 per cent of its 2019 level and expects to raise this further in 2024.

SWISS (excluding Edelweiss Air) transported over three million passengers in Q1 of 2023, an increase of over 70 percent on the prior-year period. It also performed more than 27,000 flights, around 47 per cent more than in the first quarter of 2022.

Prices set to relax in 2024

According to Wittmer, the increase in pricing has now seen its peak and prices should begin to relax in 2024 – if only momentarily.

This, he said, is due to several reasons. For one, SWISS is expanding its international long-haul flights this winter from both Zurich and Geneva Airport. The destinations due to see more frequent traffic are Miami (USA), Shanghai (China), Singapore (Singapore) and Cairo (Egypt).

Other airlines are also gradually bringing back their mothballed aircraft, while Airbus and Boeing will also be delivering new aircraft after production problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The IATA even expects overall traveller numbers to reach 4 billion in 2024 (counting multi-sector connecting trips as one passenger) and exceed pre-pandemic levels (103 per cent of the 2019 total).

How can I avoid spending too much money on summer travelling?

Although flights may not be as cheap as before, there are still strategies to keep costs down:

– Booking flights well in advance tends to result in cheaper tickets, as prices increase closer to the flight date. Therefore, if you still need to book your flight, now is the time to do so.

– Avoiding the peak holiday season in July and August can help save money. Instead, consider taking an early summer vacation in June or a later one in late August or early September.

– Check websites like Skyscanner and Google Flights for the cheapest airline options. These platforms can also find cheaper tickets if you’re open to making stopovers instead of flying direct.

– Be flexible with your travel dates. For example, look for midweek departures or consider departing from secondary airports, which may offer lower prices compared to major airports.

– If you’re travelling within Europe, consider rail travel as an alternative to flying. The Austrian train system, operated mainly by state-owned company ÖBB, is known for its efficiency and relatively affordable prices, and is highly regarded in many countries.

By employing these strategies, you can still find ways to manage costs and make your travel plans more affordable despite the current trend of rising airfare prices.