The foreign ambassadors listen to President Alain Berset speaking at the 2023 New Year's Reception in the National Council Chamber.
Ambassadors accredited to Switzerland are received by the President of the Confederation at the Federal Palace on New Year's Day. © FDFA

FDFA Protocol consists of the Office of the Head of Protocol, the Visits and Ceremonies Section, and the Privileges and Immunities Section.

Office of the Head of Protocol

The Office of the Head of Protocol drafts ceremonial correspondence from the President of the Confederation to heads of state and government (condolences, congratulations, thanks and good wishes). It also arranges visits by heads of mission to the President and other members of the Federal Council.

Together with the competent authorities, the office coordinates official visits by heads of mission to cantonal governments and the conferral of titles/honours on Swiss citizens. In addition it advises federal, cantonal and municipal services as well as foreign embassies and private individuals on matters of protocol on request. 

Visits and Ceremonies Section

The Visits and Ceremonies Section organises state visits and other official visits by heads of state and government, ministers, senior representatives of international organisations and other foreign dignitaries who have been invited to Switzerland by the Federal Council, the President of the Confederation or the head of the FDFA. It is responsible for coordination among all federal offices involved in the organisation of these official visits.

It also organises diplomatic receptions hosted periodically by the President of the Confederation, such as the New Year reception and annual excursion for the foreign diplomatic corps in Switzerland. In addition it organises the cocktail reception and excursion for the Annual Conference of Swiss Ambassadors. The section also assists in the organisation of multilateral events, particularly with protocol-related matters.

Additional tasks include processing agrément requests for new foreign heads of mission, organising the ceremony during which newly appointed foreign heads of mission present their credentials, authorising VIP airport services, as well as administering Switzerland's protocol regulations and dealing with matters of precedence. The section also assists other federal departments and Parliament's Protocol Office with their protocol-related activities.

Privileges and Immunities Section

The Privileges and Immunities Section manages the registration of arrivals/changes/departures of embassy and consular staff, issues FDFA legitimation cards, handles the opening and closing of consular posts, conducts personnel checks, handles the exequatur procedure for heads of consular posts and the agrément of military attachés. 

It ensures the application of the privileges and immunities regime provided for in the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, and monitors compliance in terms of privileges and immunities, legal status, reciprocity, violations of Swiss law, prevention of abuses, and debt collection. 

Together with the competent authorities, it coordinates security, customs and tax privileges, legal issues, property issues, visa requests in accordance with Article 98 of the Foreign Nationals and Immigration Act (FNIA) and Article 38 of the Ordinance on Entry and the Granting of Visas (EGVO), CD/AT/CC vehicle registration, and access to the Swiss job market for people who enjoy privileges in Switzerland. 

The section also processes requests for the cancellation of official foreign passports, requests for new specimen passports, and forwards specimen signatures and seals of foreign representations to the Federal Chancellery. 

It is also responsible for drawing up and administering the Directory of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps in Switzerland as well as providing information on privileges and immunities online for diplomatic missions and consular posts in Switzerland, their staff, families and private household employees. 

Diplomatic and consular privileges and immunities regime in Switzerland

Information on the privileges, immunities and facilities for foreign embassies and consulates in Switzerland:

FDFA Protocol: introduction by Olivier Fink, minister and former deputy head of FDFA Protocol

Protocol: precedence and placement

Protocol: official visits

The Protocol: Responsibilities of the Privileges and Immunities Section, introduction by Simone Pellegrino, FDFA Protocol Officer (it)

Last update 08.02.2024


Secretariat of the Protocol

Federal Palace West Wing
3003 Bern

Visits and Ceremonies

Federal Palace West Wing
3003 Bern

Privileges and Immunities

Bundesgasse 32
3003 Bern

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