ACE Travel Management have put together a Business Guide which covers traveller safety, business etiquette and local advice, their experienced consultants would be happy to provide further assistance with organising your travel arrangements.
Spotlight on Switzerland
TIME: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October).
ELECTRICITY: Electrical current in Switzerland is 230 volts, 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.
CURRENCY: Swiss Franc CHF
TIPPING: A 15 percent 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.
COMMS: The international country dialling code for Switzerland is +41.
Please note: information provided is correct at time of going to press and to be used for reference purposes only. For up to date travel information and advice please check the Foreign Office website
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.
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, and left). While many Swiss speak English, it is considered polite to inquire before attempting conversation.
Swiss business culture is based predominantly on merit. The Swiss are masters of building well-oiled machines. The business world reflects this and operates in a similar fashion. Efficiency and organisation are prioritised. A formal, no-nonsense approach is central to business culture in Switzerland. There is little room for humour or lack of preparation in negotiations and business meetings. While the Swiss are slightly less pedantic than their German or French counterparts, great value is attached to appearance and punctuality. Dress codes for business people in Switzerland are quite formal and conservative, particularly in the banking sector where dark suits are the norm. Sports jackets and a collared shirt and tie will suffice for businessmen while businesswomen in Switzerland should adopt corporate wear - either trousers or suit skirts are appropriate. Business and pleasure are entirely separate in the Swiss work environment. In keeping work and personal compartmentalised, Swiss businesspeople even shy away from calling their colleagues by first names, which reinforces formality and boundaries between work and play. When invited to a Swiss business associate's home, a small gift such as flowers or a box of chocolates is appropriate. In Swiss business culture those in senior positions garner a great deal of respect, but decision-making processes are often quite democratic. Switzerland is home to over 1000 multinationals and has become something of a melting pot of business customs, regional influences and etiquette. English is the corporate language in Switzerland particularly for multinationals. However, regional languages, such as French, German and Italian, are sometimes preferred in their respective areas. Swiss-German business meetings are rarely over food and are often as brief as possible with little small talk. But the Swiss-French and Swiss-Italians often meet over lunches and talk is not restricted only to business. Handshakes are common for addressing both men and women. Business hours are from 8am to 5pm on weekdays with a lunch break from 12pm to 2pm.
Swiss medical facilities and health care are among the best in the world, but very expensive and health insurance is recommended. Immunisation certificates are only required if the traveller has been in an infected area within two weeks prior to arrival in the country. There is a reciprocal health agreement with the UK and most EU countries, whose citizens are entitled to free or low-cost emergency medical treatment on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Medical insurance is advised for other nationalities.
ENTRYREQUIREMENTS FOR UK NATIONALS
United Kingdom citizens require a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay, with the exception of passports marked 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United
Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, which will be accepted if valid on arrival. No visa is required for passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, Identity Cards issued by Gibraltar, and 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom). All other British nationals are entitled to a maximum stay of 90 days without a visa.
TRAVEL TO SWITZERLAND
With France, Germany, Austria and Italy on its borders – Switzerland is very accessible. The four main airports are Geneva, Zurich, Bern and Basel:-
Geneva - The airport is situated three miles (5km) north of Geneva.
Zurich - The airport is situated eight miles (12km) north of Zurich.
Bern - The airport is situated six miles (9km) southeast of Berne.
Basel - The airport is located nearly four miles (6km) northwest of Basel, Switzerland. ,
Switzerland is served by the scheduled airlines such as British Airways, Swiss and Lufthansa but it is also served via the Low Cost Airlines such at Ryan Air and EasyJet to Geneva, Basel, Zurich and Bern. The Swiss Rail Network -which is the densest public transport network in the world also offers fantastic connections throughout the country. If you are hiring a car in Switzerland – ensure that you advise the car hire company if you are planning to drive across the border to Austria, France, Germany or Italy to refrain from being in breach of EU rules. EU Citizens are unable to drive Swiss registered vehicles trans- border, to which the car hire companies have a limited supply of EU registered vehicles for this purpose.
The temperature is moderate with no extremes of hot and cold, so Switzerland can be visited at any time of year. Summer is warm to hot lasting from about June to September, and although good for outdoor activities it is also the most crowded time for a holiday. Ski resorts open in late November and remain so until the snow begins to melt in April.
Shopping in Zurich is a fantastic holiday experience. While traditional Swiss products may be watches, cuckoo-clocks and chocolate, there are also many upmarket boutiques and speciality stores (such as the one dedicated entirely to button sales). This city is charmingly devoid of shopping malls. The main shopping street is Bahnhofstrasse, home to department stores Globus and Jelmoli, and jewellery shops like Bucherer and Beyer, as well as fashion shops such as H&M. Fine Swiss chocolates (including Frey and Lindt), Swiss Army knives, embroidery, linen, Swiss watches, and handmade clocks are available from shops like Schweizer Heimatwerk and Confiserie Sprüngli. At Zurich Hauptbahnhof, Shopville is a subway shopping centre offering Swiss souvenirs and fine wines. Also close by, there's a flea market at Helvetiaplatz on Saturday mornings. The Niederdorf district has trendy boutiques, 'modern' antiques and a few bookshops. Nearby, Schipfe is a street where artisans and craftsman offer quality and custom-made products. Elegant boutiques, department stores and speciality shops are clustered in the Old Town. International visitors may reclaim VAT but some conditions do apply.
DUTY OF CARE
ACE Travel Management can support your organisations duty of care obligations by supporting your business travel requirements to Switzerland. Travellers will have access to support 24/7 and will be given visa and travel safety advice at time of booking.
ACE Travel manages the travel policies, traveller safety issues and budgets to clients in Essex, please contact Sarah Wilson, Director for further information. www.acetravel.co.uk Tel : 0845 241 3406 firstname.lastname@example.org