For members


Reader question: How long is Switzerland’s Covid certificate valid for?

With several countries - including some of Switzerland’s neighbours - shortening the validity of their Covid certificates, readers asked us how long the Swiss version is valid for and whether it will be shortened.

People have their Covid credentials checked
Switzerland's Covid certificate for recovery or for vaccination is valid for a year. Photo: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP

Switzerland’s Covid certificate is required to visit bars, restaurants and take part in events and other activities. 

The certificate shows you have either been vaccinated or tested negative from the virus, or have had the virus recently and recovered. 

The period of validity for tests, vaccination and recovery has changed over time. Here’s what you need to know. 

How long is Switzerland’s Covid certificate valid for? 

The validity of the Covid certificate depends on the way in which you got it, i.e. whether you are vaccinated, recovered or have tested negative. 

The validity for being fully vaccinated lasts for a full year from the time you got your second shot. Where you have a booster shot, the 365-day period will start from the third dose.

Covid booster vaccinations in Switzerland: Everything you need to know

The only difference is if you have been vaccinated with the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine, where validity starts on the 22nd day after you receive your jab (and lasts for a year from the date of the jab). 

Switzerland recently changed the period of validity for recovery from the virus from six months to 12 months. 

A Covid certificate through recovery is valid for one year from the date of your positive PCR test. 

You can also get a Covid certificate for recovery through an antibody test. 

Where your antibody test shows that you have enough antibodies to be at a lower risk from the virus, your Covid certificate will be valid for 90 days from the time of the test. 

More information is available at the following link. 

READ MORE: How to get Switzerland’s Covid certificate with an antibody test

The third way of getting a Covid certificate is through a negative test. 

For people who test negative to the virus, you will be given a certificate. 

Both PCR and antigen tests apply here, although the validity differs. 

A negative PCR test is valid for 72 hours, while a negative antigen test is valid for 48 hours

Self tests are not valid for the certificate.  

Click here for official government information on Covid certificate validity.

Why are governments and health authorities changing the period the certificate is valid? 

The fast-moving nature of the pandemic has meant decisions have been made in real time on the basis of the best scientific evidence available at the time. 

When new evidence comes to light, it has occasionally meant a change in policy. 

One clear example of this was during the early stages of the pandemic when the focus switched from cleaning surfaces where Covid might collect to masks, which attempted to curb airborne transmission of the virus. 

In recent days, Austria and France – as well as some countries further afield including Croatia and Israel – have shortened the validity of their Covid certificate equivalents on the basis of new evidence which suggests immunity may not last as long. 

READ MORE: How long are people in Switzerland considered ‘fully vaccinated’ compared to other countries?

One example from Switzerland was illustrated above in relation to the Covid certificate for recovery. Originally, the validity for this was six months, but this was extended to 12 months on the basis of new evidence. 

How long will Switzerland keep the Covid certificate in place?

When announcing the extension of the certificate at a press conference on September 8th, Health Minister Alain Berset said the obligation would be in place until at least January 24th, 2022. 

He did however say it could be lifted before January if the epidemiological situation allows it. As at end November 2021, this looks unlikely. 

More information on the criteria for bringing the Covid certificate to an end is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How long will Switzerland keep the Covid certificate in place?

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For members


Reader question: How can I find out if my Swiss employer is underpaying me?

Wages in Switzerland are generally higher than almost everywhere else in Europe. But how can you know if you are being paid enough — and what can you do if you are not?

Reader question: How can I find out if my Swiss employer is underpaying me?

Obviously, some jobs and industries pay more (or less) than others, so your salary will be based on a general pay scale for your specific position within that sector.

It is also determined by other factors, such as your education, skills, experience, length of employment, and the canton / city where you work.

For instance, if you work in Zurich, Geneva, or Basel, you are likely to earn more than someone employed in a similar job in a small town or rural area.

Based on all these variables, your pay may very well be lower — or higher — than that of other employees in your company or sector.

However, regardless of where in Switzerland you work, there are ways to find out whether you are being compensated sufficiently for the kind of work and position you have, or whether your salary is lower than normal for your industry (a practice known as “wage dumping”).

Swiss labour practices

While some employers have been accused of wage dumping, this is not a widespread practice in Switzerland, and is predominantly limited to small companies that subcontract work.

The country has strong labour laws which protect workers in terms of wages, work conditions, and other employment-related rights.

In addition to the basic rules and conditions outlined in this legislation, many employees are also covered by the collective bargaining agreement (CLA), a kind of contract that is negotiated between Switzerland’s trade unions and employers.

Generally speaking, they cover a minimum wage for each type of work; regulations relating to work hours; payment of wages in the event of illness or maternity; vacation and days off; and protection against dismissal.

CLAs are sector-specific; in other words, they take into account the particular aspects of each branch. As an example, Switzerland’s largest labour union, The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (UNIA), maintains 265 collective agreements in the areas of industry and construction.

READ  MORE: What is a Swiss collective bargaining agreement — and how could it benefit you?

So if your company and employees are covered by a CLA, you can be sure that you are getting a fair wage — and that your other rights are protected as well.

What if your company has not concluded a CLA?

In this case, you are still protected by the above-mentioned labour legislation, which ensures that your welfare and rights are being respected.

You will also sign an employment contract with your company, which outlines your salary, rights and obligations, as well as everything your employer can and cannot do, or expect from you.

According to a government site, “in professional sectors that do not have a collective employment agreement, the federal or cantonal authorities can establish a standard employment contract …The employer can only modify these conditions to offer better terms for employees.”

Due diligence

If you want to know what a standard wage is for your type of job and industry you can do so by checking out the wage calculator created by UNIA. 

It is programmed with the latest salary levels from 72 different industry sectors and 36,000 companies in Switzerland, so it will give you a good indication of what a fair wage is in your case.

If the pay your employer is offering you is below the industry standard, you have the option of not accepting the job.

In case you are already working and realise your employer is short-changing you — especially based on your nationality, race, gender or disability — there are some options open to you, all of which are outlined on this government site

If a court or another official body decides the employer was paying you unfairly, the company will have to repay the wage difference.

READ MORE: How much do you need to earn in your Swiss canton to be well off?