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Transiting through Geneva

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all,

I’m going to Flaine (in France) at the start of January, and for the trip I’m flying into Geneva.

I know the UK only requires a certified lateral flow test to get back to the country. However, do I need a PCR test to get the bus from Flaine to Geneva? Or onto my flight in Geneva?

Any advice from others who've made the trip would be greatly appreciated!
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Official rules say you don’t need it if transiting Switzerland so imo you don’t.

Can’t guarantee tho.
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Just back from Tignes at the weekend and we only had an Antigen test taken in resort and everything was good. The test was only checked by Easyjet getting onto the flight for us although our sat nav seemed to avoid the border from France into Switzerland.
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bezthespaniard wrote:
Official rules say you don’t need it if transiting Switzerland so imo you don’t.

Can’t guarantee tho.


Do you have any "official"website links?

Sadly, everything I've read says we need a PCR test to get into Switzerland, even if heading straight to France Sad .
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@gherron74,

To fly into Geneva you need a -ve result of a PCR Test conducted within the 72hrs before arriving in Switzerland.

Scroll down to "Transit" in the following link:-

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/switzerland/entry-requirements

There is an older thread covering this subject at length.
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Bergmeister wrote:
bezthespaniard wrote:
Official rules say you don’t need it if transiting Switzerland so imo you don’t.

Can’t guarantee tho.


Do you have any "official"website links?

Sadly, everything I've read says we need a PCR test to get into Switzerland, even if heading straight to France Sad .


Going from UK to France via Switzerland you need a PCR test within 72 hours of departure to be allowed to fly to Switzerland. You won't get on the plane witout the result.
To enter France, you need either a PCR or a LFR within 48 hours of departure if fully vax'd, or within 24 hours if not. This is unlikely to be checked at the Swiss / Franco border.

To return to UK from France, flying out of Switzerland you need the UK's 48 hour LFR, but do not need anything to get back into Switzerland as you are transitting from a border region.

If folks read the threads fully / properly, it's not THAT difficult to understand what the current regulations are.
The regulations can (and probasbly will) change in the coming weeks and months.
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Older thread re transit at Geneva dropped off first page

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=157232
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JDL65 wrote:
Bergmeister wrote:
bezthespaniard wrote:
Official rules say you don’t need it if transiting Switzerland so imo you don’t.

Can’t guarantee tho.


Do you have any "official"website links?

Sadly, everything I've read says we need a PCR test to get into Switzerland, even if heading straight to France Sad .


Going from UK to France via Switzerland you need a PCR test within 72 hours of departure to be allowed to fly to Switzerland. You won't get on the plane witout the result.
To enter France, you need either a PCR or a LFR within 48 hours of departure if fully vax'd, or within 24 hours if not. This is unlikely to be checked at the Swiss / Franco border.

To return to UK from France, flying out of Switzerland you need the UK's 48 hour LFR, but do not need anything to get back into Switzerland as you are transitting from a border region.

If folks read the threads fully / properly, it's not THAT difficult to understand what the current regulations are.
The regulations can (and probasbly will) change in the coming weeks and months.


I can understand why the OP and others are seeking clarification because there are some slightly grey areas IMO.

Switzerland need a PCR within 72 hours and France a PCR or LFR within 48 hours. So if you took a PCR test 48-72 hours before you fly to Geneva could the French authorities officially be within their rights to refuse entry as your test was more than 48 hours ago? You say its 'unlikely' to be checked at the French border but I guess people want to be 100% sure. And it matters because the cheaper Randox type PCR tests that you send away can be done in 72 hours but you might need to pay a lot more for a PCR test that returned results within 48 hours of your flight.

Also on the way home what constitutes a "border region"? Any French Alpine resort or just those close to the Swiss border like Avoriaz, Morzine etc? Again it can be an area of confusion because UK require LFR before returning home but Switzerland require a PCR to enter their country, which you will be doing if flying home form Geneva.
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what constitutes a "border region"? :: the official list

Border areas of Switzerland
Annex 1a62
(Art. 2(4), 3(2)(d) and 9a(2)(c))
Zones in Germany:
– Land Baden-Württemberg
– Land Bayern
Zones in France:
– Region Grand Est
– Region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
– Region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Areas in Italy:
– Regione Piemonte
– Regione Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aoste
– Regione Lombardia
– Regione Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol
Areas in Austria:
– Land Tirol
– Land Vorarlberg
Zones in Liechtenstein:
– the whole Principality
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SlipnSlide wrote:
JDL65 wrote:
Bergmeister wrote:
bezthespaniard wrote:
Official rules say you don’t need it if transiting Switzerland so imo you don’t.

Can’t guarantee tho.


Do you have any "official"website links?

Sadly, everything I've read says we need a PCR test to get into Switzerland, even if heading straight to France Sad .


Going from UK to France via Switzerland you need a PCR test within 72 hours of departure to be allowed to fly to Switzerland. You won't get on the plane witout the result.
To enter France, you need either a PCR or a LFR within 48 hours of departure if fully vax'd, or within 24 hours if not. This is unlikely to be checked at the Swiss / Franco border.

To return to UK from France, flying out of Switzerland you need the UK's 48 hour LFR, but do not need anything to get back into Switzerland as you are transitting from a border region.

If folks read the threads fully / properly, it's not THAT difficult to understand what the current regulations are.
The regulations can (and probasbly will) change in the coming weeks and months.


I can understand why the OP and others are seeking clarification because there are some slightly grey areas IMO.

Switzerland need a PCR within 72 hours and France a PCR or LFR within 48 hours. So if you took a PCR test 48-72 hours before you fly to Geneva could the French authorities officially be within their rights to refuse entry as your test was more than 48 hours ago? You say its 'unlikely' to be checked at the French border but I guess people want to be 100% sure. And it matters because the cheaper Randox type PCR tests that you send away can be done in 72 hours but you might need to pay a lot more for a PCR test that returned results within 48 hours of your flight.

Also on the way home what constitutes a "border region"? Any French Alpine resort or just those close to the Swiss border like Avoriaz, Morzine etc? Again it can be an area of confusion because UK require LFR before returning home but Switzerland require a PCR to enter their country, which you will be doing if flying home form Geneva.


Border Regions have been clearly defined by the Swiss authorities and there have been plenty of links on the various threads, if people bothered to read them. For Geneva, the border region is the Rhone Alps which covers Savoie, Haute Savoie, and ot towards the Massif Central and Lyon too. so all the main french alpine ski resorts are covered.
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Thanks for clarifying all.

No offence to anyone on here, but can I just ask that regular forum members on here with extensive knowledge try and be a bit more understanding and less judgemental of people coming on here asking for clarification about things, particularly in relation to covid test rules which seem to keep changing.

Not everyone on here has the time to trawl through pages and pages of threads to check if their question has already been answered (and even if it has that answer may be out of date given the constantly changing rules).

Similarly not everyone has perfect knowledge of French geographical regions and such so may not know which region their particular resort is in.

Its quite a stressful time for anyone who has booked to travel in the next few weeks and I guess most of us are just looking for a bit of reassurance that our understanding is correct and that we won't get our trips ruined due to a misunderstanding. Confused
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SlipnSlide wrote:
Thanks for clarifying all.

No offence to anyone on here, but can I just ask that regular forum members on here with extensive knowledge try and be a bit more understanding and less judgemental of people coming on here asking for clarification about things, particularly in relation to covid test rules which seem to keep changing.

Not everyone on here has the time to trawl through pages and pages of threads to check if their question has already been answered (and even if it has that answer may be out of date given the constantly changing rules).

Similarly not everyone has perfect knowledge of French geographical regions and such so may not know which region their particular resort is in.

Its quite a stressful time for anyone who has booked to travel in the next few weeks and I guess most of us are just looking for a bit of reassurance that our understanding is correct and that we won't get our trips ruined due to a misunderstanding. Confused


Sorry, but it is the classic that people can't / won't spend 30 minutes doing a little bit of research themselves first, but instead just ask the same questions that have been answered plenty of times already. It's laziness. Confused
A 5 second Google search of Swiss Border regions Covid answers the FR to GVA question, and then a further 5 second Google search would inform you of the rhone alps region.
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Hi all,

Thanks for all the responses.

I have done research for few hours, and so far I’ve received conflicting information regarding what test I need to travel from France to Switzerland as part of my return leg.

The UK only requires a lateral flow test, and I can get these tests in the village pharmacy where I’m staying.

However, if I need a PCR test I’d have to go to another town - and I’d lose a chunk of time on the trip organising the test.

The Swiss travel check website seems to imply I’ll need a PCR test, and doesn’t take into account any border region transit policy.

I haven’t seen the guidance online about the border regions being exempt from covid tests to get into Switzerland. Could a link be provided if someone knows where this is?
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JDL65 wrote:
SlipnSlide wrote:
Thanks for clarifying all.

No offence to anyone on here, but can I just ask that regular forum members on here with extensive knowledge try and be a bit more understanding and less judgemental of people coming on here asking for clarification about things, particularly in relation to covid test rules which seem to keep changing.

Not everyone on here has the time to trawl through pages and pages of threads to check if their question has already been answered (and even if it has that answer may be out of date given the constantly changing rules).

Similarly not everyone has perfect knowledge of French geographical regions and such so may not know which region their particular resort is in.

Its quite a stressful time for anyone who has booked to travel in the next few weeks and I guess most of us are just looking for a bit of reassurance that our understanding is correct and that we won't get our trips ruined due to a misunderstanding. Confused


Sorry, but it is the classic that people can't / won't spend 30 minutes doing a little bit of research themselves first, but instead just ask the same questions that have been answered plenty of times already. It's laziness. Confused
A 5 second Google search of Swiss Border regions Covid answers the FR to GVA question, and then a further 5 second Google search would inform you of the rhone alps region.


It‘s not obvious to a lot of people. There’s a lot of information to read on a number of pages and it keeps changing. It might seem to be „obvious“ to regular forum reading snowheads after a number of snowheads have trawled through the regulations and pasted the relevant bits and discussed it in depth and some have even tried it out IRL. It wasn’t obvious to me when the rules first changed and I live here and can read the local language versions and listen to the press conferences live. Based on feedback I see on local facebook groups, it is not obvious to lots of people living in Switzerland and even the BAG themselves are confused/give incorrect/contradictory advice when you phone them. And that‘s just one country.
If anyone understands the Norwegian entry requirements for fully vaccinated Schengen area entrants, please let me know, because I cannot make head nor tail of them.


If you can‘t or don‘t want to help, you can simply scroll on.


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Wed 15-12-21 12:02; edited 1 time in total
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@gherron74, where are you coming into Switzerland from on your return? If one of the specified border regions, you do not need a PCR test to enter Switzerland, and so the antigen for your return to the UK will suffice.
See here:
https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/krankheiten/ausbrueche-epidemien-pandemien/aktuelle-ausbrueche-epidemien/novel-cov/empfehlungen-fuer-reisende/quarantaene-einreisende.html#-1675462321

EDIT: Just realised you are the OP and are coming from Flaine. That‘s a border area, so you don‘t need a PCR test to enter Switzerland.
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JDL65 wrote:


Going from UK to France via Switzerland you need a PCR test within 72 hours of departure to be allowed to fly to Switzerland. You won't get on the plane witout the result.

If folks read the threads fully / properly, it's not THAT difficult to understand what the current regulations are.


To be fair, it's just a bit vague! The Swiss regs say you need a PCR test 72 hours before boarding, but that there are exceptions to the rule such as:

People in transit who use a Swiss airport without leaving it before travelling on, unless they are entering Switzerland from a country with a variant of concern

So does that mean flying to Geneva and getting picked up in the arrivals carpark is allowed if you're on the French side but not on the Swiss side?
Then below, it gives some exceptions to the General Testing rule, one of which is:

People transiting through Switzerland without a stopover


So does that mean you can have an LFT 48hours before leaving the UK, which is what the French rules say?
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@Leonard Smalls, indeed it‘s not that obvious! My understanding:
- if you are flying to Geneva and leaving the airport, you need a PCR test in order to board the aircraft. This applies even if you are transiting straight out of Switzerland once you leave the airport by road/rail. You cannot exit directly via the French side because it‘s closed at the moment for renovation, so you have to exit Swiss side.
- if you are flying out of Geneva to return to the UK, and coming from one of the designated border areas, you only need to follow the testing requirements for France/UK, as you are exempt from the Swiss testing requirement.
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@Gämsbock, one thing to consider when returning from France via Switzerland is how long you were there. The Swiss travel checker specifically asks which countries you have been in during the previous 10 days. Given that many people are on a week's skiing trip, the fact that you have been in the UK for 3 days before your holiday will mean that you require a PCR test to fly back via Geneva.

https://travelcheck.admin.ch/home
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@rachelharrisonsmith, but if you are entering from a border area you are exempt from completing the form.
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For the sake of a few €'s is it not worthwhile to get a pcr test before returning via GVA?
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@scoman, if you can get one easily/cheaply enough and get the result back in the timeframe needed then why not.

However it seems unlikely that many resorts will have the capacity to do large volume of PCR tests and antigen tests will be much easier to get hold of. For example, last week Tignes was offering a grand total of 10 appointments per day for PCR tests, and stressing that they should only be used by people who really needed them. AFAIK all the PSBers returning to the UK took antigen tests to get back and had no issues.
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So if I'm flying to Geneva but transiting to France immediately I need either a <72 hour PCR (Swiss) and a <48 hour LFT (French), or just a <48hour PCR (both)?
Annoyingly, as I'm flying on a Tuesday to GVA a 72 hour pcr test done on the Saturday after after 2.30pm (flight arrives at 3.30 EuroTime) may or may not be processed in time due to no Sunday post deliveries, a 48 hour pcr is even less likely to be done in time.
Which means a sameday test on the Monday - nearest is at Bridgenorth, a 72mile round trip, and costs £169. Ouch!
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Been playing with the tracker and it's PCR whether or not you've also been to the UK as well as France in last 10 days


rachelharrisonsmith wrote:
@Gämsbock, one thing to consider when returning from France via Switzerland is how long you were there. The Swiss travel checker specifically asks which countries you have been in during the previous 10 days. Given that many people are on a week's skiing trip, the fact that you have been in the UK for 3 days before your holiday will mean that you require a PCR test to fly back via Geneva.

https://travelcheck.admin.ch/home
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scoman wrote:
For the sake of a few €'s is it not worthwhile to get a pcr test before returning via GVA?

Not really if you relatively recently had COVID, so run a risk of still testing +ve on a PCR. Also, you can take an LFT kit with you from the UK, but PCR testing slots are limited. (And why would you, as you don't need a PCR if traveling from the border regions).
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@zazoupazou, I see what you are saying, but as you don‘t need to complete the Swiss PLR to re-enter Switzerland from a border region at the end of your holiday I don‘t think this applies.
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So, any ideas on what entering from a Border region might mean. The plan for would be to cross the border from France in a car at Geneva but we will have been skiing near Megeve, in the Haute Savoie, which I understand is not a border region?
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zazoupazou wrote:
So, any ideas on what entering from a Border region might mean. The plan for would be to cross the border from France in a car at Geneva but we will have been skiing near Megeve, in the Haute Savoie, which I understand is not a border region?


Unless Haute Savoie has just moved to another part of France, it is a border region.
Honestly, why do people not read some of the posts from upthread?
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@zazoupazou, the border regions in France are: Region of Grand-Est, Region of Burgundy / Franche Comté, Region of Auvergne / Rhône-Alpes.

Here‘s a map of the Region of Auvergne / Rhône-Alpes
https://www.map-of-france.co.uk/map-of-rhone-alpes.htm

Megeve is in the (border) region.
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scoman wrote:
For the sake of a few €'s is it not worthwhile to get a pcr test before returning via GVA?


It took ~32 hours to get my PCR result back last week (from the Tignes clinic), not the 24 hours stated on the booking page. I needed it to get into Switzerland - and it was about 5 hours too late for that so I was lucky that I wasn't checked. LFT is obviously much quicker, so if you don't need a PCR test, don't get one.
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@mgrolf, and that wasn‘t even a busy holiday week…
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Gämsbock wrote:
@gherron74, where are you coming into Switzerland from on your return? If one of the specified border regions, you do not need a PCR test to enter Switzerland, and so the antigen for your return to the UK will suffice.
See here:
https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/krankheiten/ausbrueche-epidemien-pandemien/aktuelle-ausbrueche-epidemien/novel-cov/empfehlungen-fuer-reisende/quarantaene-einreisende.html#-1675462321

EDIT: Just realised you are the OP and are coming from Flaine. That‘s a border area, so you don‘t need a PCR test to enter Switzerland.


Reading the section on "Exemptions to the general test requirements" at the above link - as well as those from border regions it also lists out:

"People transiting through Switzerland without a stopover"

Would that include anyone heading to the airport from anywhere - not just the borders?
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Ok thanks for the comments, so if you take a LFT kit with you for your return how is this validated if you are carrying out the test youreslf?
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@scoman, the LFT kit you take with you has to be from a certified company. You take the test and load the image to their website and they send back certification (obviously following their instructions!)
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scoman wrote:
Ok thanks for the comments, so if you take a LFT kit with you for your return how is this validated if you are carrying out the test youreslf?


We used Vivo clinic for LFTs and had the results verified immediately after we downloaded the required photos. Very Happy
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Handy Turnip wrote:
@scoman, the LFT kit you take with you has to be from a certified company. You take the test and load the image to their website and they send back certification (obviously following their instructions!)


Thanks for the reply, so much to get your head around.

Yes that certainly makes more sense than a PCR test both hassle and cost.
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@zazoupazou, interesting point, I am not sure!
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Bergmeister wrote:
scoman wrote:
Ok thanks for the comments, so if you take a LFT kit with you for your return how is this validated if you are carrying out the test youreslf?


We used Vivo clinic for LFTs and had the results verified immediately after we downloaded the required photos. Very Happy



These ones at £15 https://vivoclinic.com/shop/product/antigen-tests-for-travel/
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Apologies if this has been asked before but in Swiss travel check website it asks whether you have the right to "freedom of movement" which means citizen of EU/EFTA.

Is UK still part of EFTA since leaving EU? Confused
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@SlipnSlide, No we are no longer part of EU/EFTA and have no freedom of movement rights.
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mgrolf wrote:
scoman wrote:
For the sake of a few €'s is it not worthwhile to get a pcr test before returning via GVA?


It took ~32 hours to get my PCR result back last week (from the Tignes clinic), not the 24 hours stated on the booking page. I needed it to get into Switzerland - and it was about 5 hours too late for that so I was lucky that I wasn't checked. LFT is obviously much quicker, so if you don't need a PCR test, don't get one.


My experience endorses this. I was in Tignes last week and were advised to get a PCR to be on the "safe side" by the tour operator. Our return flight was last Sunday evening which meant that to meet UK regs a test had to be done after 7pm on Friday. The Tignes testing centre said that there was no way we would have PCR results taken that late back from the lab in time because of "le weekend". We instead had Lat Flows on the Saturday. Our bus went through the border into Switzerland in the usual manner, i.e. without stopping, and once we were in the airport all they were interested in was the UK requirements for entry, i.e vaccination certificate, pre departure lat flow result and completed PLF.
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