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COVID-19 CERTIFICATE

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

RESIDENCY PERMITS

Reader question: How can I bring my family to live with me in Switzerland?

Family reunification can be tricky in Switzerland, depending on where you and your family are from. Here is what you need to know.

Reader question: How can I bring my family to live with me in Switzerland?

If you live in Switzerland, you might want to bring your family from abroad to live with you. However, this will not be possible in every case, as the rules for family reunification vary broadly depending on where you and your family are from and how closely related you are.

Family reunification might not be a given right for those living in Switzerland on a permit. Instead, it may be a possibility left to the discretion of the authorities. Unlike those on a B permit (residence permit), people in Switzerland on a C permit (settlement permit), for example, don’t necessarily have a right to bring their family.

READ ALSO: Five things to consider when organising childcare in Switzerland

Additionally, you can’t bring just any family members to Switzerland. Who you are allowed to bring, and under what circumstances, will depend on your nationality.

For Swiss citizens

If the person living in Switzerland is a Swiss citizen, they are allowed to bring their spouse or registered partner, any children and grandchildren under the age of 18 (or 21 or dependent if the child comes from an EU/EFTA country), your dependent parents and grandparents if they come from an EU/EFTA country.

For citizens of an EU/EFTA country

Citizens of the European Union or an EFTA country can bring a spouse or registered partner, any children or grandchildren under the age of 21 (or dependent), and any dependent parents or grandparents.

For citizens from a third country

Citizens from a third country such as the US, Canada, Brazil, the UK, South Africa or Australia, for example, are only allowed to bring a spouse or registered partner and children under the age of 18.

How to bring them?

It’s important to mention that there are time limits to applying for family reunification. In general, people have five years to apply for family reunification, but only one year if the application is for children over 12 years old. The Swiss government says it is “so that they can integrate more rapidly into Swiss society”.

READ ALSO: What is the EU’s ‘single permit’ for third-country nationals and can I get one?

There are several other conditions that need to be met. For example, you need to prove the relationship to the person you want to bring, and you need to have a large enough accommodation to house the whole family.

Additionally, those who are self-employed or unemployed need to show proof of sufficient financial resources.

The family members need a valid identity card or passport, a visa (if necessary), and a certificate proving the relationship and proving they are dependents (if required). In addition, a spouse needs to show proof of A1 language or a certificate of enrolment in a language course of the area where they apply for the permit.

The application must be made with the immigration authority in your canton, who may ask for extra documents or further information.

READ ALSO: How long can I stay out of Switzerland and keep my residency rights?

If the application is accepted, the family members will receive a residence permit – the exact type depends on the person in Switzerland’s status. The family will be allowed to work in Switzerland unless they are parents or grandparents.

Children are required to attend free compulsory schooling at least until the age of 16 and all family members need to have a Swiss health insurance.

Each canton may have its own particular rules and minor differences in status and documents may lead to different outcomes depending on the case. Therefore, don’t forget to check with your cantonal immigration authority what applies to your particular case.

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