Travelling out of the country?

Thu, 26. Mar. 2020

Our regular contributor Anna Charles recently travelled from Britain to Switzerland. Everything worked out despite the extraordinary situation throughout Europe but she has a few insights for people who need to make international travels now.

If you hold a Swiss residence permit and need to travel out of the country during this time, it is imperative you carry your permit with you. 

I’ve lived in Switzerland for almost 25 years and have never been asked to produce it – until last Saturday night at the Vallorbe Swiss border. Unfortunately my permit was sitting in Saanen as it had come up for renewal in February (before Coronavirus became what it has become). I’d sent it off and travelled, thinking nothing of it. As the pandemic spread and I was planning my trip home I had asked the authorities in Saanen for guidance; they had assured me I was in the system and the border guards could verify this by checking on the computer.

But the guards hadn’t wanted to check their computer. They had demanded physical proof of my residency. They were understandably very prickly at my not being able to produce this document or any physical proof of it being up for renewal. The emails on my phone I had received from the Saanen authorities on the matter were of no consequence to them at all.

I’m the first to recognise I have become complacent about my permit and whether I have it in my possession or stored in a safe place at home. But not anymore. 

So if you need to travel at this time, make sure you have your permit on you. And if you have to send it in for renewal, make sure you carry a printed letter from the authorities confirming this fact. This should save you a whole lot of questioning at the border.

Anna Charles

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