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Switzerland Travel Guides

The Basics:


Electricity

Electrical current in Switzerland is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are of the linear, rounded three-pin type, but rounded two-pin plugs will fit the outlet.

Language

The three official languages are Swiss German, French and Italian. A few people speak Romansch, but this is confined to the southeastern corner of the country. Most people know at least three languages, including English.

Tipping

A 15% service charge is normally included in all hotel, taxi, bar and restaurant bills in Switzerland, and further tipping is not necessary, but small change left over is appreciated.

Safety Information

Switzerland has a low crime rate compared to other European countries and is generally a safe country to travel in, however there has been a recent increase in petty theft and visitors should be alert to pickpockets and thieves, particularly in the city centres and on public transport. Be aware of robberies on overnight trains.

Local Customs

Privacy and discretion are highly valued in Swiss culture, and strangers generally do not speak to each other. The Swiss are naturally reserved and conservative, and prefer structured rules to govern their daily lives. Littering is a serious social crime in Switzerland, and you should also make an effort to throw your recyclables in the proper receptacle. French and German-speaking Switzerland have different customs in some areas. When being introduced to someone, German-speaking Swiss will shake hands, while French-speaking locals may kiss on the cheek three times (generally left, right, left). While many Swiss speak English, it is considered polite to inquire before attempting conversation.

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Communications

The international country dialling code for Switzerland is +41. The outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are in use e.g. (0)22 for Geneva. Mobile phone GSM 1800 and 900 networks operate throughout the country. Internet cafes are available in the main towns and resorts; some public phone booths also have Internet and email access.

Duty Free

Travellers to Switzerland over 17 years do not have to pay duty on the following items: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; 2 litres alcohol up to 15% and 1 litre alcohol over 15%. The maximum allowance of wine is 20 litres, but duty will be payable on this quantity. A reasonable amount of personal effects and gifts (including perfume) to the value of Sfr200 for residents of Switzerland and Sfr100 for other travellers. Restricted items include meat and meat products from selected countries. Prohibited items are absinth and anaesthetics.


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