U.S. citizens are encouraged to register and obtain updated information on travel and security within Switzerland at the U.S. Embassy in Bern or at the two U.S. Consular Agencies, which offer limited consular services to U.S. citizens, in Zurich and Geneva.
The U.S. Embassy in Bern is located at Jubilaeumstrasse 93, 3005 Bern; Tel. (41)(31) 357-7011, fax (41)(31) 357-7280. The Embassy's 24 hour emergency telephone numbers are(41)(31) 357-7218 or 7777. The Embassy's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The U.S. Embassy website at ch.usembassy.gov/embassy/bern answers many questions of interest to Americans visiting and residing in Switzerland.
Despite the fact that the highest peaks of the Alps can get snow year-round (it's rare through July-September, however), Switzerland isn't as cold as most people think. Spring, summer and autumn are all quite comfortable. June and July are when the alpine wildflowers are usually at their peak, but summer is also noted for lots of tourists. We suggest visiting in May unless skiing is part of your itinerary-many resort hotels close down for the month. Take a sweater year-round (a light raincoat and folding umbrella might come in handy, too).
The telephone system is entirely automatic and connects the entire country. Helpful numbers to know are: 111 for directory assistance, 120 for tourist information and snow reports, 140 for help on the road, 162 for weather forecasts, and 163 for up-to-the-minute information on road conditions. Hotels add substantial service charges for calls made from your room; it's considerably less expensive to make calls from a public phone booth.
To use a coin-operated telephone, lift the receiver and insert 40 centimes to get a dial tone. Be sure to have enough coins on hand, as you must insert more for each message unit over your initial deposit. If you insert more coins than necessary, the excess amounts will be returned. A pay phone will accept up to 5SF ($2.75).
To make a local call, dial directly after you hear the dial tone (no area code needed); for other places in Switzerland, dial the area code and then the number. To call a foreign country, dial the code of the country first, then the area code, and then the number. The country code for Switzerland is 41. When calling from the United States dial 011, the country code, the city code dropping the zero, then the number. For example, the city code for Zurich is 1; use this code if calling from outside Switzerland. If you're within Switzerland but not in Zurich, use 01. When calling within Zurich, leave off the code and dial the regular phone number.
Switzerland's electricity is 220 volts, 50 cycles, AC. Some international hotels are specially wired to allow North Americans to plug in their appliances, but you'll usually need a transformer for your electric razor, hair dryer, or soft-contact-lens sterilizer. You'll also need an adapter plug to channel the electricity from the Swiss system to the flat-pronged American system. Don't plug anything into the house current in Switzerland without being certain the systems are compatible.
You should consider the benefits of travel insurance as part of your Switzerland travel planning. Most travelers look for travel tips that discuss the importance of travel insurance and travel insurance through Travel Guard can provide important coverage for your trip.
Whether you’re taking a family vacation or business trip, Travel Guard has a plan for your Switzerland travel. These plans may include valuable medical expense coverage, trip interruption, medical emergency assistance and treatment services and more. And with Travel Guard’s 24-hour assistance line, your coverage can act as a travel guide should your plans change.*
For more than 20 years, Travel Guard’s plans have covered millions of travelers throughout the world. We're America's leading provider of travel insurance plans and assistance programs and we're here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Coverage provided through Travel Guard is easy to buy and with our 24-hour emergency travel services it's even easier to use.
*Non-insurance services provided by Travel Guard.