Do’s and Don’ts in Switzerland

March 23 , 2021 by: Leah Martin

You want to go to Switzerland? With its rich culture and scenic views, you will surely have a great time blending with the Swiss culture. So, if you like combining cultural life discoveries with beautiful nature, then Switzerland is the right place to start from!

Switzerland is a federated country which has an immense cultural diversity and living heritage. Its geographical position between several countries such as Germany, Italy, France, Austria, and Liechtenstein has influenced this cultural diversity, not to mention the influence that the twenty-six states (cantons) have in the Swiss culture. So to speak, the Swiss culture is distinguished by its diversity, as each canton and municipality has cultural autonomy.

Wanna know more about the land of mountains, chocolate and fine watches? Learn more below:

DOs in Switzerland

1. Find out whether you will need a visa to enter Switzerland.

Non-European Union citizens whose governments have not signed visa-waiver arrangements shall apply for an entry visa to travel to Switzerland. To note, are agreements between the European Union and a non-EU country which provide for visa-free travel for their citizens for a maximum period of three months during a six months period.


2. If you are travelling to Switzerland without a visa, make sure that your whole visit is only within the 90-day limit.

You can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training.

Steinchen on Pixabay

3. Get travel and medical insurance.

Before travelling, it is strongly recommended that you obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) by contacting the Health Service Executive. The European Health Insurance Card is a free card that gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the 27 EU countries.

4. Consider doing business in Switzerland.

Switzerland has a highly competitive economy and policies which are attractive aspects for many foreign investors. It is an undisputed center of innovation with a highly skilled workforce, and it allows for easy access to the single market of European Union.

5. Always make an appointment for your business affairs.

Business appointments in Switzerland are crucial. If you are planning on meeting a particular person, you have to schedule an appointment beforehand, or you will not have the chance of meeting them at all.

6. Observe a proper dress code.

Swiss businessmen value people who make an effort into looking professional. In the business zone, men and women are expected to follow the professional business code. To be particular, men should wear conservative yet stylish suits, shirts, and ties; while women should wear suits and dresses combined with subtle accessories.

S. Hermann & F. Richter on Pixabay

7. Always be on time.

Swiss people value punctuality. In the business area, you have to be punctual once the appointment has been approved. Otherwise, you will have to cancel and give a fair explanation for not being on time. On the other hand, you can be removed from a dining invitation if you miss two or three dinners for not being on time.

8. Expect for a traditional Swiss greeting with three kisses on the cheek.

Cheek kissing is a gesture to indicate friendship, family relationship, perform a greeting, to confer congratulations, to comfort someone, to show respect. This is a standard greeting throughout Central Europe between friends or acquaintances, but less common in professional settings.

9. Stop for pedestrians who want to use a zebra crossing.

You are required to stop for pedestrians who want to use a zebra crossing, since Swiss drivers really stop even if pedestrians are only approaching a crossing. As a tourist, you are expected to do the same and pedestrians expect to get their right of way.

10. In case of accidents and quick access for emergency services, create a “Rettungsgasse” in slow traffics.

For slow traffic in Switzerland, drivers have to create a so-called “Rettungsgasse” in case of emergencies. You can be fined if you do not make enough space for emergency services.

11. Greet everyone individually.

Whenever you have arrived at a Swiss social occasion., you will be thought rude if you just say ‘salut’ or ‘gruezi’ in general. Also, it is expected that very young children will come up and shake your hand and introduce themselves or say hello.

Andrea Slovencia on Pixabay

12. Mind your table manners while eating.

Keep your wrists on the table and make sure your elbows are hanging from it. Once you are finished, put the knife and fork on the plate side by side to form a 5:25 clock position. In that way, you are informing the hostess that you are done, and that she does not have to put you more food.

DONTs in Switzerland

1. Do not break eye contact when making a handshake.

When meeting someone for the first time in Switzerland, a handshake will do. You deliver the handshake while maintaining eye contact, and breaking eye contact is considered to be very rude.

2. Do not call someone on a first-name basis unless you are told otherwise.

When you talk to someone you have never met, in Switzerland you should approach them with their family name. You can also use the formal pronoun “sie”. Continue with this formal approach until you are told otherwise.

Photo by Hanna Lopez on Unsplash

3. Do not chew gum in public.

If you are in the mood for a gum, try not to chew it while in public because it is considered a rude and irritable act by the Swiss.

4. Do not drink at all when you plan to drive in Switzerland.

An absolute alcohol prohibition applies to professional drivers and new drivers in Switzerland. Driving is not allowed from a blood alcohol level of 0.25 mg/l. Therefore, it is highly recommended to not drink at all when you plan to drive.

5. Do not cover your face in the Swiss cantons of Ticino and St Gallen.

It is illegal to cover your face in public places in the Swiss cantons of Ticino and St Gallen. However, this does not apply to the requirement to wear a face mask in case of health protocols.

6. Do not expect everyone to speak all of Switzerland’s national languages.

Switzerland may be a linguistically diverse country, but it is a mistake to think that all Swiss are fluent in French, German and Italian. While many Swiss people are multilingual, do not expect to be universally understood if you speak French in the German part, or German in the French part.

7. Do not pay full price for a train.

It is recommended to get yourself a demi-tarif/halbtax card and get half-price fares for a year. Simply load your half fare travelcard onto your SwissPass and enjoy a half-price travel throughout Switzerland right away, whether by rail, boat, bus or tram.

8. Do not call an administration office between midday and 1pm-4pm.

The Swiss like to eat their lunch early, compared to some other countries. Do not expect to be able to visit or call city administration offices, medical clinics or other public offices from midday, for at least an hour.

9. Do not buy your groceries on a Sunday or late at night.

There are very few stores which open in Switzerland on Sundays, and most of the big grocery stores are closed. If you find yourself short on food on a Sunday or late or night, you can pick up basic supplies at some petrol stations. Shops at train stations and airports also have extended opening hours.

Dan Burton on Unsplash

10. Do not give tips.

Tipping is not necessary in Switzerland because staff salaries are good compared to the other countries. Moreover, tips are already included in the price of your meal. But if you really want to leave a little extra, five (5) or ten (10) francs on bigger bills is relatively common for tip-giving.

11. Do not bring a pet if it will not have a company of its own kind.

If you plan to bring your favorite pet to Switzerland, you might want to get a playmate for it. The Swiss law onAnimal Protection Ordinance of Switzerland ensures that all “social animals” have their own kind, and are not kept in too small cages.

12. Do not forget to register your dog in your commune, and to pay an annual ownership tax for it.

You need to register your dog at the local Kreisbüro or Gemeinde. The dog tax starts at 160 francs per year for small dogs. Be aware that you can be fined for walking your dog without a leash. Some cantons such as Basel, Lugano or Schwyz, are stricter when it comes to enforcing this.

13. Do not forget to take your shoes off when entering someone’s house.

It is normal to take your shoes off before going into someone’s house in Switzerland. They will usually provide slippers in a range of sizes called house shoes, so you do not need to bring your own.

14. Do not use a washing machine or a lawnmower on Sundays.

Sundays are taken as particularly sacrosanct in Switzerland, and it is forbidden to use a washing machine or a lawnmower so that the neighborhood is not disturbed. Many who work as concierge at hotels or hostels have become frustrated when foreign travelers ask to wash their clothes on a Sunday, so keep this in mind.

15. Do not stay after midnight when you are invited on a Swiss occasion.

If by chance you are invited to a dinner, keep in mind that it is an unspoken Swiss rule that the guests should leave before midnight. More so, you should leave by thanking the host, and you should also ask him/her for dinner at your place. Swiss people expect the same efforts from you.



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talesof travel
4 months ago

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