How long does it take to have my passport delivered to me?
Passports are printed in the U.S. and returned to the U.S. Embassy in Bern within two-weeks of issuance. Please allow at least one additional week for processing if you submit your application at the Consular Agency in Geneva or Zurich. If you would like your passport mailed to you within Switzerland, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope and we will mail it to you via regular mail free-of-charge. If you would like to have it mailed to you via registered mail, please add the correct postage. The U.S. Embassy and the consular agencies are not liable for the Swiss post. Please allow at least ten (10) business days from when your passport leaves the U.S. Embassy before you report your passport lost.
Can I Mail-In My Application?
No, please do not mail-in your passport application.
We cannot accept mail-in applications for DS-82 application forms. Do not send it to the United States or the U.S. Embassy Bern.
If you cannot submit your application in person yourself, you may provide a Letter of Authorization to someone else who could do that on your behalf.
Please follow the instructions on our website: https://ch.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/
Can someone else submit my passport renewal application on my behalf?
How do I replace my emergency passport?
If you were issued an emergency, limited-validity passport at a U.S Embassy or Consulate because you had urgent need of travel, you should apply to renew this passport for a full-validity passport as soon as possible.
You may renew your passport by mail if your most recent U.S. passport meets all of the following requirements:
- Was issued less than 12 months ago (even if the passport is now expired); and
- Does not have any endorsement on page 11 stating “A full validity passport must be approved by the Department of State”.
If you DO NOT meet the above requirements, please follow the instructions here.
Can I pick up my new passport at the Embassy/Consular Agency?
Passport pick-up is not possible at the Embassy or at the Consular Agencies.
Do I need to schedule an appointment?
Yes, services at the Embassy or a Consular Agency are available by appointment only. Please use the Online Appointment System for Embassy Bern or the Contact Form for the Consular Agencies in Geneva or Zurich.
My passport is running out of pages. Can I have pages added?
My passport is running out of pages. Can I have pages added?
This service is no longer possible. You will have to apply for a new, 52 page passport.
The passport application instructions on the Forms differ from the Embassy website. Which ones do I follow?
Please note that the instructions on the actual passport application or travel.state.gov apply to applicants from within the United States, this is why they are slightly different to the instructions on our Embassy website. You should follow the instructions on our Embassy website.
Do not send your application to the United States for processing
I have lost my passport. What shall I do?
Please follow the instructions on our website: https://ch.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/replacing-a-lost-or-stolen-passport/
If you have emergency travel plans: https://ch.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/emergency-passports/
Who can apply for emergency passports?
Emergency passports are only issued at the U.S. Embassy in Bern during office hours and are generally available within 24 hours.
Emergency passports are issued in the following circumstances:
- Replacement of a lost or stolen passport of a U.S. citizen travelling abroad
Applicants seeking to replace a lost or stolen passport must provide a police report.
- In Life-or-death emergencies: serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family that require you to travel within 72 hours
An imminent life or death emergency means an immediate emergency that severely endangers the health or safety of the applicant or another individual (such as a medical procedure to sustain life that can only be performed in another country) or impairs the ability of the applicant to attend to a dying relative whose death is impending or to attend a funeral of a relative.
Applicants seeking a life or death exception must provide documentary evidence sufficient to validate the situation
Emergency passports need to be picked-up in person.
Please note: Some Foreign Governments might not recognize the 12-page U.S. emergency passport, issued by U.S. embassies and consulates overseas, as a valid travel document for visa-free travel, and, if traveling on this emergency passport, you may be refused boarding and/or entry by immigration officials
How long does it take to have an emergency passport issued?
Emergency passports can only be issued at the US Embassy in Bern. Usually they can be printed the same day.
Can I pay for expedited service?
No, expedite service is not available overseas.
Is it possible to pay fees electronically, through the post office, or by check?
No, we cannot receive payment of fees electronically, through the post office or by check.
Visit the location page for available methods of payment for each location: https://ch.usembassy.gov/embassy/locations-in-switzerland/
I live in Germany or France. Can I apply for a passport in Switzerland?
Yes, you can. You will need to provide a self-addressed stamped C5 size return envelope with with the correct Swiss postage.
CHF 19.- Swiss Franc Stamps
I cannot find the forms. Where can I download them?
How do I sign my child’s passport?
Parents or legal guardians may sign passports of their children under age 16. To do so, a parent or legal guardian must print the child’s name and sign his or her own name in the space provided for the signature. The parent or legal guardian must also write his or her relationship to the child in parenthesis next to the signature (e.g., mother, father, or legal guardian).
Who can apply for a second valid passport?
According to the regulations of the U.S. Department of State, no person should possess more than one valid U.S. passport at any time unless specifically authorized by the U.S. Department of State. The issuance of a second valid passport should be considered an exception to the regulations and is to be approved on an individual basis only where justified. The second valid passport is not limited geographically (i.e. for travel to a few countries). However, it is limited to four years and cannot be extended.
Why do both parents need to sign a minor child’s (under age 16) passport application?
Congress passed the Nance-Donovan Act to prevent international parental child abduction by requiring the consent of both parents or legal documentation of sole custody, for passport applications on behalf of children under the age of 16. Both parents must sign the passport application in the presence of a consular officer. If only one parent can come to the Embassy or one of the consulate agencies to sign-in person, the absent parent must provide a notarized statement of consent (DS-3053) with valid photo identification.
What are the photo requirements?
Am I required to fill out everything in the passport application?
The primary purpose for soliciting this information is to establish your citizenship and identity to determine if we can issue you a U.S. passport, and to properly administer and enforce the laws pertaining thereto. The information is made available for routine use on a need-to know basis to personnel of the U.S. Department of State and other government agencies having statutory or other lawful authority to maintain such information in the performance of their official duties; pursuant to a court order and as set forth in Part 171, Title 22, Code of Federal Regulations (See Federal Register, Volume 42, pages 49791 through 49795. Failure to provide the information requested on this passport application forms may result in the denial of a U.S. passport, related document or service. Please also note the disclosure of the identity and location of an emergency contact is voluntary. However, if you do not authorize us to inform anyone, we may be unable to provide you and your family with timely assistance in an emergency.
Is it possible to track my passport application status?
Please check the status of your U.S. passport application at travel.state.gov. You will need to provide your last name, your date of birth, and the last four digits of your social security number. Once that information is provided, you will be able to print a confirmation of your passport application.
Can I travel to the US on my foreign passport/ with ESTA?
U.S. citizens are required by U.S. law to enter and leave the United States with a U.S. passport. This law applies to dual citizens and children.
Can my minor child travel alone/with just one parent?
Yes, however you would need to provide a travel letter. Please visit the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Website for instructions:
My grandchild is visiting me from the US and has lost his/her passport. How do we get parents’ consent?
The parents are required to sign form DS-3053, Statement of Consent – Issuance of a Passport to a Minor Under Age 16 in front of a U.S. Consular Officer.
Can I travel with a residency permit only?
No, a residency permit is not a valid travel document.
How do I take my pet with me to the US?
Animals entering the U.S. may be subject to regulation by USDA APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) as well as other federal agencies. Depending on your destination state, your pet may need to also meet additional health requirements.
Visit the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Website for specific information:
What can I import through the mail?
There are a number of issues to be considered when importing something into the U.S. through the international Postal, military (APO/FPO) or diplomatic (DPO) systems.
Visit the Custom and Border Protection (CBP) website for specific instructions:
Can I take drugs to the US or Switzerland?
Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor’s prescription printed on the container. It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities, a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply. If your medications or devices are not in their original containers, you must have a copy of your prescription with you or a letter from your doctor. A valid prescription or doctors note is required on all medication entering the U.S.
Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA)
How can I prove physical presence?
How can I replace or amend a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)?
You would need to send a notarized request letter directly to the U.S. Department of State, Passport Vital Records Section.
Please visit the State Department website for instructions.
Your request letter may be notarized at the U.S. Embassy Bern or at the Consular Agency Zurich or Geneva by following the instructions on our notarial services page.
Is a tax statement sufficient proof of physical presence?
A tax statement alone is not proof of physical present, but it can supplement other records.
What forms and documents do I need to apply for a SSN?
If you are a US citizen or green card holder over the age of 12 and never have been issued a Social Security number issued before, you may apply at the US Embassy Bern or at either US Consular Agency Geneva or Zurich.
Please follow the instructions on our Website: https://ch.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/social-security/social-security-overview/
What is the fee for a SSN?
There is no fee for Social Security Applications.
I worked in the US. How do I get my Federal Benefits?
Please contact the Federal Benefits Unit in Frankfurt for information in English or German, or the Federal Benefits Unit in Paris for information in French or Italian.
I still have not received my SSN. What should I do?
Please note that the issuance of a Social Security number can take several months. If you still have not received your card you may contact the Federal Benefits Unit in Frankfurt and ask for a status: FBU.Frankfurt@ssa.gov Please enter your last name in the subject line and indicate your date and place of birth.
Loss of Nationality - Renunciation
What is the process in Bern to renounce my US citizenship?
Can I renounce via mail or at the consular agency?
You cannot renounce by mail, through a U.S. Consular Agent, or while in the United States. You must appear before a U.S. Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bern and sign the oath of renunciation voluntarily and intentionally.
How long does the renunciation process take?
After your renunciation appointment where you sign the oath of renunciation in front of a consular officer, your application is sent to the U.S. Department of State for final approval. This process can take a few months. There is no ability to expedite your renunciation application.
What is the renunciation procedure if I am under age 18?
A minor child under the age of eighteen must convince the U.S. consular officer that he or she fully understands the nature and consequences of the oath of renunciation, is not subject to duress or undue influence, and is voluntarily and intentionally seeking to renounce his or her U.S. citizenship. (Historically, this has been very difficult to prove.) A minor child under the age of sixteen is presumed not to have the requisite maturity and knowledgeable intent, making it even more difficult to renounce.
Why is the fee for a renunciation so high?
The renunciation process involves multiple, time-consuming steps including careful and thorough examination through the adjudicating officers and lawyers in Washington. The fee is set at a level to cover the effective costs.
Do I need to register my marriage with the Embassy or Consular Agency?
There exists no civil status register in the United States. Hence, you cannot register your marriage with us.
A Swiss Marriage Certificate with apostille is recognized in the United States.
If you wish to change your name on your passport after your marriage, please follow the instructions for passport renewal: https://ch.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/passports/
Can I have my fingerprints taken at the Embassy or Consular Agency?
No, Fingerprints may be taken at a large Swiss police station in the canton that you reside in.
Do you have a photo booth at the Embassy?
There is a photo booth taking US-size pictures in the waiting area of the US Embassy in Bern. The fee is CH 10.- for a set of four photos (coins or note). If you wish to use the booth please bring the exact amount of change.
Please note: This service is not provided by the U.S. Embassy and we cannot guarantee that the photo booth is in service at the time of your visit.
Where can I get tax assistance?
The IRS office in Philadelphia is the principal office responsible for providing international tax assistance, such as answering questions related to tax law, foreign tax issues, and notices and bills.
This office is open Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (American) Eastern Standard Time and may be contacted by:
Phone: +1 (267) 941-1000
Fax: +1 (267) 941-1055
Website : https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers
Internal Revenue Service
Philadelphia, PA 19255-0725
Where can i find information on scams and report it?
U.S. citizens can become victims of scams at home or abroad. There are many different types of scams, but they all share a common goal: monetary gain for the scammers.
Scams Targeting U.S. Citizens at Home or Abroad
- Someone you have not met in person quickly offers friendship, romance, and/or marriage.
- Be skeptical if the person asks for money to pay hospital bills, visa fees, or legal expenses and/or seems to have many sudden problems overseas.
- Check this online dating scam infographic.
- A person contacts grandparents or other relatives pretending to be a grandchild, niece, nephew, or other family member who needs money right away.
- The scammer usually asks the person contacted to keep it a secret.
- Reach out immediately and directly to the family member purportedly needing money to verify the situation.
Drug Trafficking Scam:
- The scammer makes contact by phone or email and offers a job overseas, the opportunity to do charity work, or requests someone to transport documents/items for them.
- These scams often begin as romantic relationships.
- Typically, the scammer offers to pay all travel expenses and offers free luggage and/or asks the person to stop in a third country to pick up something. The luggage/item(s) will contain drugs, and the victim may face arrest at the destination.
- Be cautious if someone asks you to transport anything to another country and report it to airline and border authorities before you travel.
- The perpetrator promises significant prize money, but the recipient must pay taxes and other processing fees up-front for winning a foreign lottery.
- If you did not purchase a lottery ticket in this foreign country, it is highly unlikely that you can win a prize.
FBI – Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
Where do I find the lawyer’s list?
Our Embassy website does have a list with English speaking lawyers:
DISCLAIMER: The U.S. Embassy Embassy Bern assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Inclusion on this list is in no way an endorsement by the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. The order in which the names appear has no other significance. The information in the list on professional credentials, areas of expertise and language ability are provided directly by the lawyers; the Embassy is not in a position to vouch for such information. You may receive additional information about the individuals on the list by contacting the local bar association (or its equivalent) or the local licensing authorities.
My 90 days in Switzerland are almost up. How can I extend my visa?
I need witnesses to have my document notarized. Can an Embassy staff member act as a witness?
If your document requires witnesses in addition to the notary, you must bring these witnesses with you. Consular staff cannot serve as witnesses or help you find a witness. Witnesses cannot be relatives, and must present a passport to enter the Embassy/Consular Agency. If your document has a space for a witness to sign but you did not bring one, you can either make a new appointment or let the Embassy/Consular Agency staff assume no witness is required and prepare the document as such.
Where can I register to vote?
You must do this in your state of legal residence by completing a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) according to your state or territory’s specific instructions and submitting it to your local election office. This will also extend your eligibility to receive a ballot for all federal elections for at least one calendar year, and acts as both the registration and absentee ballot request form.
The FPCA can be completed quickly and easily by using the FPCA online assistant, filling out the Form (PDF 320 KB) or requesting a hard copy from the U.S. Embassy Bern by sending an email to: VoteBern@state.gov with your name, address, email address, and your legal state of residence.
Where can I find Information on Judicial Information and the Service Process?
In Switzerland, documents may only be served through the appropriate Swiss Central Authority under the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters.
U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card holders)
Important: U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) cannot schedule an appointment with the ACS Unit.
How can I replace my lost/stolen Green Card?
If you are a permanent resident of the United States and are temporarily in Switzerland (your last departure from the United States was less than one year), but seeking to return to the United States and do not have your permanent resident card, you may need a boarding foil to return to the United States.
You must appear in person to apply for a boarding foil. The Boarding foil is valid for only 30 days and cannot be extended. Therefore, plan your return accordingly.
To apply for a Boarding foil, please follow these two steps:
Be sure to read the instructions before you apply as the fee is non-refundable.
Please note that the fee cannot be paid at the Embassy.
Schedule and bring following documents to your boarding foil appointment:
- Send an email to BernIV@state.gov to request an appointment
- Bring all documents listed below to your appointment:- valid passport
– completed Form I-131A
– evidence of payment in ELIS
– one US passport size photograph
– Evidence of your last departure and return
(flight ticket/electronic itinerary)
– proof of your permanent resident status
(copy of Green Card if available)
– police report of stolen or lost permanent resident card
Boarding foils may be issued within 2-3 working days. You may pick-up your boarding foil in person on a later day or provide us a stamped self-addressed envelope for mailing.
The Boarding foil can only be mailed to a Swiss or Liechtenstein address.
For your information: Neither the U.S. Embassy nor the U.S. Government can accept any liability for passports or visas lost in the mail.
Expired Permanent Resident Cards – If you have an expired permanent resident card with a 10-year validity period, you do not need a boarding foil. The airline may board you with the expired card, providing you meet all their other conditions for travel. However, some airlines may be reluctant to let you board with an expired card.
U.S. Military Family Members with expired Permanent Resident Cards – You do not require a boarding foil if you are in possession of an expired permanent resident card with a 10-year validity period, and you are now returning after having resided outside the United States on official overseas U.S. military orders. You may travel with your expired card and military orders.
How do I Return a Resident Visa (SB-1)?
A U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) or Conditional Resident (CR) who has remained outside the United States for longer than one year, or beyond the validity period of a Re-entry Permit, will require a new immigrant visa to enter the United States and resume permanent residence. You can learn more about Returning Resident Visas on usvisas.state.gov.
If you are married to a U.S. citizen who is currently residing in Switzerland, we would suggest that your U.S. citizen spouse file an I-130 petition on your behalf instead.
Once you have reviewed the requirements of the SB-1 Visa and believe that you may qualify, please email the nearest Consulate where you would like to apply with the subject line: “Returning Resident SB-1 Visa – Surname, Given name.” Please print the Documentation Checklist (PDF 189 KB) and submit this with your supporting documents at the time of the scheduled interview.
How can I abandon my lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Status (Green Card)?
If you no longer wish to reside in the United States, or if you are otherwise subject to loss of permanent resident status, you need formally abandon your status by completing Form I-407 (Record of Abandonment of Lawful Status). Mail the form I-407, along with your Permanent Resident Card (green card), to the address below. A copy of the form signed by our Consul will be returned to you. Therefore please include a self-addressed stamped envelope. We will normally be able to process the Abandonment within ten business days.
Embassy of the United States of America
Immigrant Visa Unit
Abandoning your Permanent Resident Card and status does not affect your ability to apply for a Nonimmigrant Visa nor to immigrate to the United States at some future time. However, you will have to begin the process anew and apply through the usual application process.
Please Note: Residents of Switzerland who wish to surrender their Green Cards should mail their completed I-407 form and Green Card to the U.S. Embassy in Bern. Once the Bern Immigrant Visa Unit receives your completed I-407 form and Green Card, we will provide you with a copy of the form signed by a Consul. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), many banks, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection require this confirmation form as evidence of abandonment of claim to immigrant intent. Please note that Green Cards sent to the USCIS Service Center in London or to another U.S. Embassy will not receive a confirmation of abandonment. If you sent your I-407 form and Green Card to another post, we will not be able to track it, or provide you with a copy.