US airport issues if my B Permit expires before my return flight to US?

I am a US citizen married to a dual Swiss & US citizen, and living in Switzerland. I had to fly to the US for a family emergency. I booked my flight home from SFO to ZRH as a round-trip ticket, with the return leg as far out as I could book it (11 months out). I plan to use that return flight to visit family in the US, and then purchase a new round trip ticket and repeat the process.

Then I realized my B Permit expires a few months before that return flight. I plan to renew the B Permit, and since I am married to a Swiss and I don’t mow the lawn on Sundays, I don’t think they will give me any problems.

But, I wonder, will I be denied boarding at the SWISS airport terminal at SFO because my return flight is technically after my B Permit expiry? In which case I need to adjust the return flight temporarily to be on or before the expiration date?

I always have to present my C permit when boarding at Ohare. Without the permit to prove residency the airline then has to consider me a tourist and to start checking for Schegen time limits.

Contact the cantonal Migrationsamt if you are caught in a permit renewal problem while traveling. Preferably before.

Once when we had submitted our permits for renewal and an emergency came up necessitating travel before we received them, we got a letter from the Migrationsamt explaining the situation. Showed that on boarding to depart the US and arrival in Switzerland, no problems. Back then, you were advised to request that letter at least 72 hours before travel, but in a true emergency it might be possible to have that done faster.

It shouldn’t be a problem. If you are resident in Switzerland I don’t think they will care about a return ticket - I mean you could fly back to Switzerland on a one way ticket couldn’t you!?

Problem is you have to prove residency - and that's your permit. You might be able to blag your way on the plane, especially if you fly first, but you are running a risk.

I fly the same ORD-ZRH flight so frequently that the nice lady at the Swiss check-in at Ohare greets me by name - and apologizes each time she asks for my permit saying "I know you live in Switzerland, but I have to see the permit anyway'.

It's an airline thing. They're pretty strict on it because if something goes wrong they are on the hook for sending you back to point of origin on a return flight. So it always helps to have some official documentation. Maybe even just an official letter from canton would help.

This is a matter for the airlines as they are on the hook if they land someone in the Schengen area that is refused entry and for that reason they tend to be very strict about it.

This is a common situation and your community office should be able to provide you with some kind of documentation to cover the situation. So visit them in plenty of time and you should be covered.

I second the point that it is an airline thing. Rigour of checking also varies from airline to airline.

When flying from US to CH on Swiss I have never had any issues, most times I have not even been asked my status. By way of a contrast, BA/AA have always been very strict on demanding to see documents (seems to be flagged automatically by their computer system)...however the checkers don't really know what they are expected to look for...

I am now CH:UK dual national, on my last trip back from USA (BA) I was asked again to show Swiss residence status. I didn't want to show them my CH passport and confuse them (I had put my UK passport info into their system for API data, as that is the one I already had a USA ESTA for). To respond I showed them my Swiss driving license instead...Swiss flag on it , my name and the name of the commune where I live. For them that was enough. OP, maybe try that if your permit is expired?


Switzerland imposes fines on the airlines of more than f1000 per passenger refused entry. So they check carefully. To enter Schengen as a resident you need to prove residency.

I suggest you talk to your commune on how that can be accomplished.

I don't know where I got it from, but I thought the fine was EUR 2.5k plus the cost of repatriation on the next available flight, even if it is another airline and the only seat available is first class!

But this is a common issue, so I'd be confident that the community office will have some kind of documentation to cover the issue.

Fines varies by Schengen country. Repatriation is a given but it’s not always possible to put the pax on the return flight. The airline is responsible for taking the passenger out but the authorities usually let the airline figure out the best way for them. I doubt any airline would put the passenger in a first class seat. They would upgrade someone else and put the guy in the middle seat somewhere in the back.

The only important thing is that your permit is valid on the arrival date of your SFO-ZRH flight. That's it. Your permit can expire literally the next day and you would board the plane without any questions (though I would not recommend booking like that because it gets really risky in case of any irregularities).

Absolutely no-one is going to be interested in the return flight you have booked on the same itinerary.

Maybe the OP was not clear enough, but from reading the post they are in US, have a valid Swiss permit, and want to fly to SFO-ZRH while the permit is valid. They can prove the residency to the airline and there is absolutely no risk here. Second leg 11 months later is totally irrelevant here.

If you have a ticket out of Schengen, then you would enter as a tourist for 90 days.

No, you won't. It's pretty much impossible to enter Schengen as a tourist while being a resident. As soon as border control scans your passport they will immediately see the residency status. If you are a non-citizen resident here, just try presenting only a passport, without a permit next time at the airport arrival passport control - they'll see you are not a tourist and will ask for a permit as well.

I got stamps in my passport despite having my residency permit. The French and Hungarian passport control just like stamping things.

In a perfect world, yes. Definitely if you arrive in Switzerland but not necessarily arriving at other Schengen airports (or ports).

I do not think it is a problem that your return flight (ZRH-SFO) is after the permit B expiration date. Specially not if it says "Familienanghöriger". If you really, really want to play it super safe, book a flight to the UK.

If you really, really want to play it super safe have a word with your commune and ask them to provide you documentation for your return.

How could they guarantee a permit renewal many many months (11 to be exact) in the future?

Some people are not understanding the situation. The OPs flight to Switzerland is on a date when their B permit is still valid. They booked a return ticket USA-CH-USA, with the second sector being in 11 months time, their b permit expires before the CH-USA sector.

OP, you only need a permit valid up until your arrival in CH.