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Frequently Asked Questions

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Schengen visa information

Application procedure

Visa document requirement

Biometric data capture

Schengen area

The Schengen Area is composed of 26 countries.

  • At present, 22 European Union Member States enforce the Schengen Convention: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden;
  • Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland integrally enforce the Schengen Convention, but are not members of the European Union.

The six other European Union Member States still outside the Schengen Area are the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

The EU Member State - Cyprus, is not yet a fully-fledged member of the Schengen Area. Border controls between Cyprus and the current members of the Schengen Area are to be maintained until the EU Council decides that the conditions for abolishing internal border controls have been met. However, Cyprus considers the Schengen visa, as well as residence permits from other EU Member States, as equivalent to its national visa for the purpose of a transit that does not exceed 5 days. The Principalities of Monaco, Andorra, San Marino and Holy See (Vatican City State) allow entry to their territories without any formality to Schengen visa holders.

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European Union

The following is the list of countries that are currently members of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.

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Visa obligation

Domestic passport holders - All domestic nationals must have a valid visa to enter the Schengen area, regardless of the duration of their stay and no matter what kind of travel document they have, except if they have a valid residence permit which enables them to stay in the Schengen area.

Nationals of other countries - Citizens of some countries are exempted from the requirement for a visa to enter the Schengen area for a short stay or transit, for details please check the following website.

Special visa requirement for Georgian nationals

Effective from March 28th 2017, Georgian nationals are exempted from visa requirement for short stay visit (less than 90 days within a 180 day-period). The visa requirement exemption applies only to holders of biometric passports.

However, if you are going to perform any paid activity (even if the occupation does not exceed 8 days within a calendar year), you still need to apply for a visa unless you hold a valid residence permit issued by a Schengen member state or a valid type D visa.

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Schengen, national visa and airport transit visa differences

Schengen visa (short stay)

For citizens of some countries, a Schengen visa (Type C) issued by one of the member countries is required when staying in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days.

With a Schengen visa, you may enter one country and travel freely throughout the Schengen Area. Short stay visa allows the traveller, assuming all other conditions are met, to enter the territories of any Schengen country to pay a single continuous visit or multiple visits, the duration of which does not exceed 90 days in any 180 days period.

A short stay (Schengen) visa can be issued for either single entry or multiple entries into the Schengen zone.

  • Single entry visas allow the visa holder to enter and stay in the Schengen area continuously for the length of the visa duration, to a maximum of 90 days (e.g.: from July 1st to September 28th).
  • Multiple entry visas allow several entries and stays in the Schengen Area, of which the total duration cannot exceed 90 days in any 180 days period. The stay can be continuous or divided into several periods within the length of your visa’s validity. A Schengen circulation visa is a special type of multi-entry visa that is generally valid from 1 to 5 years, decided by the Embassy or Consulate General.

National visa (long stay)

If you wish to stay longer than 90 days you will need a national long stay visa (Type D) or a residence permit.

Any stay longer than 90 days falls under national jurisdiction and is not part of the Schengen Agreement.

Airport transit visa

An airport transit visa is required depending upon the country of your citizenship and whether you have residence permits or visas of certain countries. The visa allows the travelers transiting the Schengen territory and who will not leave the transit area of the airport.

Airport transit visa does not apply to Russian citizens. However, if the transit involves a change of airport, a regular transit visa is required.

Please consult the European Union’s website of the Migration and Home Affairs to know if your country of citizenship requires an airport transit visa in order to transit through a Swiss airport.

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How to read the visa sticker

Please check the following picture.

DURATION OF STAY ... DAYS indicates the number of days you may stay in the Schengen area. The days should be counted from the date you enter the Schengen area (the entry stamp) to the date you exit the Schengen area (the exit stamp), i.e. both days included.

The period of time between “FROM … UNTIL” is usually longer than the number of days printed in the “DURATION OF STAY” field. The difference in period is meant to give you flexibility to plan your entry into and exit from the Schengen area, but your stay in the Schengen area must never exceed the exact number of days in the “DURATION OF STAY …DAYS” field.

No matter how many days you have stayed in the Schengen area, you must leave no later than the date printed in the “UNTIL” field.”

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Jurisdiction

Visa applications from non-residents, including Russian nationals, who are settled in another country, can only be processed if applicants prove that they have an urgent and unforeseen need to travel to Switzerland whilst visiting Russia and thus are unable to apply in their country of residence.

Applications Processed By TLScontact Russia

By agreement with the Embassy of Switzerland, people residing permanently inRussia, applying for the short-stay visas listed below should submit the documents at TLScontact Centre:

  • Tourist Visa;
  • Visitor Visa;
  • Business Visa;
  • Official Visit Visa;
  • Employee/business partner of the Accredited company;
  • Cultural Visa;
  • Sport Visa;
  • Medical Treatment Visa;
  • Student Visa;
  • Transit Visa.

All non-Russian citizens living in Russia have to be legal residents of the Russian Federation and need to present the relevant documents (copy of residence permit, long-term visa or FMS registration). These documents need to be valid for at least 3 months beyond the planned return from the Schengen area or a document is to be submitted that the holder has applied for the renewal of proof of legal residence.

Note: The TLScontact procedure is not compulsory. Applicants can apply at the Embassy of Switzerland to submit their applications with prior appointment. Please contact the call centre  to make an appointment.

Note: Without prior appointment, no application will be accepted by TLScontact nor the Embassy.

Applications Processed Directly by Visa section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Moscow.

The below visa applications must be submitted directly at the Swiss Representation with prior appointment:

  • Long-stay visa applications from citizens of Russia, Belarus andUzbekistan should be submitted directly at the Visa section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Moscow;
  • People intending to visit Switzerland on an invitation from an International Organization (International organizations in Switzerland) may submit their documents without prior appointment any working day from 09:00 to 11:45 a.m. (Monday - Friday, except public holidays) at the visa section of the Embassy.

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Which browsers does TLScontact support?

TLScontact supports the latest versions of these browsers:

  • Chrome (Win 10 and Android for Mobile / Tablet);
  • Edge (Win 10);
  • Firefox (Win 7);
  • Safari (OS X and iOS for Mobile / Tablet).

Make sure your browser is up to date and get into the habit of installing software updates whenever they are available.

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Why isn’t Internet Explorer supported?

Internet Explorer (IE) 11 was released in 2013, and no feature updates released by Microsoft in years, which puts this browser behind others in terms of its ability to support new technologies. While Microsoft will continue to provide support for users of IE 11 for a few more years, the new default browser is Microsoft Edge.

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Schengen Information System and your personal data

The Schengen Information System (SIS) is a highly efficient large-scale information system that supports external border control and law enforcement cooperation in the Schengen States. The SIS enables competent authorities, such as police and border guards, to enter and consult alerts on certain categories of wanted or missing persons and objects. An SIS alert not only contains information about a particular person or object but also clear instructions on what to do when the person or object has been found. Specialized national SIRENE Bureaux serve as single points of contact for any supplementary information exchange and coordination of activities related to SIS alerts.

Further information on SIS is available here.

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Place of application submission

Visa applications for Switzerland are received by TLScontact, except for some categories that are still received by the Embassy of Switzerland in Russia directlyplease check Document and Visa Types.

You are required to submit your visa application at the TLScontact Application Centre or at the Embassy nearby where you are currently living.

  • If you intend to visit only one Schengen country, you must apply at the Embassy or Consulate of this country;
  • If you intend to visit several Schengen countries, you must apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country of your longest stay;
  • If the visits in different Schengen countries are of equal length, the first destination shall be the determining factor.

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Time of application submission

You may only submit your visa application within the 90 days period prior to the intended date of arrival in the Schengen Area.

It is advisable to lodge an application at least 15 calendar days before the intended visit.

However, it is also recommended that you lodge your visa application taking into account national holidays of the country of destination and Russia. Please note that during holidays the operation of certain Consular services may be reduced.

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How to book an appointment on TLScontact Website?

You can find more detail information on how to take an appointment on TLScontact website here.

The Visa Application Centre can also support applicants who wish assistance concerning the whole visa appointment process. Website registration, form filling, appointment booking are covered to make your visa journey easier.

For more information, please contact us or ask our representatives at the Reception for assistance, when you arrive at the Visa Application Centre.

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Application submission through a representative

Personal appearance is mandatory for all visa applicants unless you are exempted from biometric data capturing.

If you are exempted from biometric data capture, a representative can apply on your behalf.

Please note the following points if you are applying through a representative:

  • Applicant’s passport must be signed by the applicant himself. In this regard, please also pay attention to the special regulations concerning applicants who are underage;
  • Representatives are only allowed to sign in place of the applicant during their appointment in the Visa Application Centre on the following documents:
    1. Consent forms;
    2. Application checklist. The Schengen application form must be signed by the applicant himself.

Applicant’s picture must fully comply with the strict regulations. In the eventuality that you need to provide a recent compliant photograph to complete your application, a self-service photo booth is at your disposal inside the Visa Application Centre. For more information, please click here.

The application might be submitted by:

  • Travel agencies accredited with the Embassy of Switzerland in Moscow may be commissioned with the deposit of visa applications. Please note that the applicants are fully responsible for the submission of genuine documents and visa applications which need to be signed in person;
  • Accredited companies SBH (Swiss Business HUB). The Authorization has to present that the courier is in charge to represent visa application in the name of the company/organization. Original and copy of the Accreditation card must be provided;
  • Close relative (spouse, mother, father, adult sister/ brother, and adult daughter/son) who has to provide proof of the family ties (copy of birth certificate or marriage certificate; copy of documents, proving changes of surnames; these copies do not need to be legalized or translated);
  • For business / official / study / cultural / sport visa applications: the representative needs to prove his employment with the company for whom he represents own employees. He/she has to provide an authorization letter. Evidence of representative’s employment must be a confirmation that the representative and the applicant are permanently employed in the same company/organization. This document must be on business paper, stamped and signed by a legal person. The period of validity is 6 months. He cannot represent any other applicants (family members, business partners, etc.).

The representative has to provide a signed letter of authorization as well as the original and copy of his/her ID card (one copy for each set of documents). The representative cannot be a minor.

Express Courier Return can be requested during the appointment in the Visa Application Centre in order to receive the passport directly to a convenient chosen address once it is back from the Switzerland Consulate Authority.

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Visa section’s request of additional documents or information

The Consulate may request you to provide additional documents or to attend an interview according to your personal situation, even after you have submitted your application at TLScontact.

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Special requirements for minor applicants

About self-presence

If the minor needs to enrol his/her biometric data during the application, he/she has to come in person, please see the question “Personal biometric data capture in the Visa Application Centre”.

Please note that minors are not allowed to submit applications by themselves, they must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

In the eventuality that the representative is not the parent or the legal guardian of the minor, the representative must present an authorization letter signed by one of the parents or the legal guardian.

About signature on minor applicant’s passport

For passports of underage applicants the following rules apply: for applicants under 14 years old the passport does not need to be signed, for applicants 14 years old and above the passport has to be only signed by the minor.

It is not allowed for the parents or guardians to sign the underage applicant’s passport. If the parents or legal guardians sign the applicant’s passport, this passport cannot be used anymore to apply for a Schengen visa to Switzerland.

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Passport collection

Passports can be collected in TLScontact Visa Application Centres during the opening hours to the public.

Once your passport is back from the Embassy of Switzerland you will be notified online on your personal account page and by SMS notification.

There are three ways to get the passport back:

1. Express Courier Return

You may have your passport returned to you by express delivery service. It will be sent directly to your convenient chosen address. Please click here to check the service availability.

2.  Passport self-pick up

Please provide the following documents if you would like to retrieve the passport by yourself:

  • visa application checklist;
  • the original identity card;
  • a copy of your identity card.

3. Passport pick-up by a representative

A representative may retrieve your passport on your behalf. The representative must provide:

  • your application checklist;
  • a copy of your ID card;
  • the original and a copy of your representative’s ID card;
  • an authorization letter signed by the applicant or proof of relationship (close relatives do not provide authorization letter).

Please kindly note that passports which have been returned by the Switzerland Consular Authority to TLScontact and have not been collected from TLScontact within a period of 6 months from the moment of application submission will be returned to the Switzerland Consular Authority.

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Processing time

Provided your application is correct and complete, the average processing time for short-stay individual applications of Russian nationals traveling to Switzerland will take a minimum of three (3) working days. In addition, the time for transport from the Visa Application Centers to the Embassy and back to the centers, as well for direct appointments the submission day and the day of passport return needs to be taken into account.

In the following cases, the processing time can be longer:

  • If the Embassy needs to investigate an application further;
  • If the application is submitted in a visa application center of a city without Swiss consular presence due to the postal delivery of applications to the competent consular authority.

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Postal application submission

If you have successfully provided your biometric data (10 fingerprint scan) for a Schengen visa application to a Schengen country within the previous 59 months, you can submit your complete application documents by post to the Visa Application Centre.

If you have not provided your biometric data during a previous visa application process, we kindly advise you to submit your application personally in the Visa Application Centre.

For more information on the postal application submission process, please kindly visit the following link.

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Visa application form

The Schengen visa application form (visa type A and C) will be provided to you during the registration process and can be filled online.

The paper versions can also be downloaded here.

Any person appearing in your travel document must complete a separate application form. The visa application form for a child under 18 must be signed by a parent or guardian.

If you need support with the form or don’t have time to fill it, we have the Form Filling Assistance service available in some Visa Acceptance Centre, our experienced visa application staff will support you. Please click here to check the service availability.

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Passport

Before applying for a visa you must make sure that your passport is valid.

  1. Check the expiration date on your passport.
    • For a short stay visa (less than 90 days), the expiration date must be no earlier than 90 days after the date of your return from the Schengen area.
  2. Make sure your passport has two or more completely blank and unmarked visa pages.
  3. Make sure your passport has not been altered.
    • Check if the original laminated film (the transparent safety film that covers the passport photo) has been tampered with. If this is the case, you must ask a passport-issuing authority to re-tamper proof your passport.
    • Make sure no pages or surfaces have been laminated (as this will invalidate your passport).
    • Check for scratching or alteration.
  4. If your passport was issued over 10 years ago, even if it is still valid at the time you submit your visa application, you must apply for a new passport from the authorities or the Embassy or Consulate of your country of origin, before being able to apply for a visa.

It is advised that you do not apply for a visa on a passport issued for multiple persons (e.g. parent and children together).

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Photo

The two photographs required for any visa application must be:

  • Color photo on a white background;
  • Format 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm;
  • Taken from the front - without obstruction;
  • Recent (less than 6 months old);
  • With the mouth closed.

For more information, please visit the link here

In the eventuality that you need to provide a recent compliant photograph to complete your application, a self-service photo booth is at your disposal inside the Visa Application Centre. For more information, please click here.

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Travel health insurance

Due to a regulation of the European Union (Decision 2004/17/CE of December 22nd 2003), there is a requirement to hold travel insurance, which is a compulsory document.

The travel insurance should be:

  • Valid for Schengen area if you apply for short stay visa (only the copy);
  • Your travel insurance must be valid with a minimum coverage of EUR 30,000 in order to face any expenses that may arise in connection with your repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical attention, or emergency hospital treatment. The travel insurance should fully cover the period of your stay in the Schengen Area.
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Bank statement

Bank statements are supporting documents for a visa application.

Bank statements general requirements:

  • The bank statement should be provided by a bank;
  • Statements from all types of banks for all accounts (except credit card accounts) are accepted;
  • Bank statements should be provided in A4 format;
  • The bank statement requires a stamp from the bank;
  • The bank statement should cover the full account history for the last 3 months or confirm the balance of the account to meet the minimum requirements of the consulate;
  • The applicant can provide extra documents to prove additional financial resources, for instance stock or fund accounts;
  • Please note: a bank statement is not the original bank certificate of deposit. Bank statements must show the exact dates for depositing and withdrawing money;
  • The name of the applicant must clearly appear on the bank statement. The name of the applicant should be printed by the bank — if it is handwritten by the applicant, it does not meet the general requirements. Students who want to provide bank statements from the person they are financially dependent on should make sure that the name of the account owner is printed on the document;
  • Each person must have at least CHF 100.00 for every day of stay at his/her disposal (or the equivalent amount in another currency). For children and students the value amounts to about CHF 30.00 (or the equivalent amount in another currency).
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Invitation letter

You have to provide an invitation letter if you apply for a short stay visa and a friend or a relative will host you in their apartment or house. Invitation letter should be provided in German, French, Italian or English language.

The following information should be mentioned:

  • Surname, first name, address and contact phone number (e-mail, if existing) of the inviting person (host)
  • Surname, first name, date of birth, sex, nationality and passport number of the invited person (guest)
  • Duration of stay in Switzerland and requested number of entries
  • Explanation of relationship with the invited person
  • Copy of the inviting person(s)’s Swiss passport(s) (pages with photo, personal data and signature) or a copy of the B or C residence permit for Switzerland

The letter shall be signed by the inviting person(s) and sent to the applicant. In case of an invitation issued by a married couple, the signature of both partners is required.

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Declaration of commitment

If the applicant has no or insufficient financial means, the Visa Section might provide him/her with the “Declaration of commitment”, after having evaluated his/her visa application.

This “Declaration of commitment” must be sent by the applicant to the inviting person (host) in Switzerland. The inviting person/host will have to complete the declaration and submit it to the competent Swiss cantonal authorities.

In the case of a “Declaration of commitment” the visa-procedure takes several weeks. Applicants are therefore advised to submit their visa application well in advance.

Please take note that the Visa Section reserves the right to request a declaration of commitment in any case.

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Personal biometric data capture in the Visa Application Center

All applicants have to provide their biometric information when applying for a visa. This includes a digital finger scan of 10 fingerprints and a photograph. The finger scan procedure uses an electronic scanner. In order to ensure acceptable finger scans, please make sure that your fingertips are free from any form of decoration or cuts.

Only applicants who are within the following categories will be exempted:

  • Children strictly under the age of 12;
  • Applicants who are physically unable to submit their fingerprints for scan (hand/finger/arm amputated). However, if it is possible to scan at least one fingertip, then applicants have to go through the biometric step. In the case of a temporary inability to provide the fingerprints (plaster, bandage, etc.), the applicant still has to come in person and have the most possible fingerprints scanned. As only a part of the fingerprints have been collected, the applicant will have to come in person to allow the fingerprints scan again the next time when applying for a visa;
  • Applicants who are applying for a new Schengen visa within 59 months from the moment of the last fingerprint data capture and have already submitted their biometric data during a past Schengen visa application. Applicants in this case will have to provide the visa sticker number and a photocopy of the previous visa. However, the local Consular Authority may request you to submit the biometric data again.

Further information on VIS is available on the website of the European Commission.

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Your fingerprint scans have already been provided for a previous Schengen visa

All Schengen visa applications - independent of the place of issue - are stored in the Visa Information System (VIS) database. Refused applications are stored as well in VIS.

In the application form under field no. 27 you are asked whether you have provided fingerprint scans during a previous visa application process. If you affirm question under the field 27, please always attach a copy of your previous Schengen visa sticker. The consular authority will copy your fingerprint scans for your follow-up application from the central VIS database.

However, if the copy of your fingerprint scans is technically not possible, you might be required by the consular authority to submit the biometric data again.

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Biometric data capture exemptions

There are 3 cases of exemption:

  • Children strictly under the age of 12;
  • Applicants who are physically unable to submit their fingerprints for scan (hand/finger/arm amputated). However, if it is possible to scan at least one fingertip, then applicants have to go through the biometric step. In the case of a temporary inability to provide the fingerprints (plaster, bandage, etc.), the applicant still has to come in person and have the most possible fingerprints scanned. As only a part of the fingerprints have been collected, the applicant will have to come in person to allow the fingerprints scan again the next time when applying for a visa;
  • Applicants who are applying for a new Schengen visa within 59 months from the moment of the last fingerprint data capture and have already submitted their biometric data during a past Schengen visa application. Applicants in this case will have to provide the visa sticker number and a photocopy of the previous visa. However, the local consular authority may request you to submit the biometric data again.

Further information on VIS is available on the website of the European Commission.

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Copy of fingerprint scan from a previous UK/US/national visa

VIS is a system for the exchange of visa-data between Schengen countries. If fingerprints have been previously provided for a visa application to the US or UK, the fingerprints cannot be used for the Schengen-Visa application. Fingerprints that have been provided for a national visa can also not be transferred because of different databases.

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