Do I need an airport transit visa through Switzerland if I have no Schengen visa? Am traveling from Cairo to Moscow via Swiss Air

  • 1
    For the change of planes, is it the same airport on the same day? And what's your nationality? (It can sometimes affect the rules for if you're allowed to transit without a visa or not)
    – Gagravarr
    Jul 24, 2013 at 8:25
  • am syrian, and will change planes within 4 hours
    – Max Kal
    Jul 24, 2013 at 13:12
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    There is still the question of what "transit" means here, no? I suppose Geneva and Zurich airport have an international area, and you only need a visa if you leave this area (i.e. if you change airport).
    – Vince
    Jul 24, 2013 at 13:47
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    @Vince "you only need a visa if you leave this area": nationals of some countries need a visa even if they're not going to leave the international area; there is a specific type of visa for this called an "airport transit visa" (as noted at the bottom of your answer, but the information deserves to be featured more prominently).
    – phoog
    Nov 24, 2022 at 13:30

2 Answers 2


Assuming that you hold an Egyptian passport (as you did not specify that in the message), you do not need a visa provided you are either: 1) transiting in Geneva airport on the same calendar day or 2) transiting in Zurich and will be there for less than 48 hours.

Source: http://www.staralliance.com/en/services/visa-and-health/

Also, read these posts on this topic for more information:

Is there any online resource that can tell me what visa rules are for passport holders of a specific country? How to quickly find out the entry requirements to country X for a citizen of country Y?

  • 1
    The OP is Syrian, still same answer applies. Jul 24, 2013 at 13:48

In Schengen area, in most airports (as far as I know, all airports one might transit through), there are distinct Schengen airport zone and international zone.

As a general rule, you cross the border in/out of Schengen only if needed. If your origin and destination are both out of Schengen area, if you stay in the airport international zone, you do not need to cross the border and therefore do not need a visa.

If you want to go to the city for a tourism break in your journey, you should check the country's exact policy regarding transit visa. Several offer such an option. The answer given by @Paul Raftery gives you the details for Switzerland.

If your final destination is in Schengen area, you should cross the border into Schengen at the first airport you fly in.

NOTE: Answer moved from Transit through Stockholm (Schengen) from Beijing to Ukraine? to have a generic Schengen transit answer.

EDIT : Citizens of a few countries need an airport transit visa, look at this other answer for details about German transit visa.

  • 1
    +1, just one more precision: The countries covered by the airport transit visa requirement are not the same everywhere in the Schengen area, the list mentioned in the other answer are only for Germany, not Switzerland.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 13, 2014 at 8:05
  • ok thanks for the notice. Indeed it seems quite complicated. I updated the post and I hope to add the information for Switzerland if I can find it.
    – Vince
    Feb 13, 2014 at 8:14
  • OK, I found an authoritative list on the EU Commission's website.
    – Relaxed
    Feb 13, 2014 at 8:25
  • OK great. Maybe you can add an answer with it so that we have the answer to all these Schengen transit visa questions popping up often.
    – Vince
    Feb 13, 2014 at 8:35
  • 1
    The generic answer is there
    – Relaxed
    Aug 14, 2014 at 13:21

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