When a foreign national is made subject to a removal order, they are given a period of time in which they can leave Switzerland voluntarily under the most advantageous conditions.

However, there are some people who do not have any identity documents or who choose to conceal their identity from the authorities in order to evade their obligation to leave Switzerland. When this is the case, the cantons can request SEM to establish their identity.

SEM contacts the foreign authorities (embassies, consulates) concerned and provides them with the available information, such as known personal details and fingerprints (Art. 71 Foreign Nationals and Integration Act FNIA).

If required, SEM may arrange for specialists from the presumed country of origin to come to Switzerland to assist in establishing the identity of the person concerned. For the system to work, close cooperation with the countries concerned is essential.

Cooperation may be based, for example, on an existing readmission agreement.

Switzerland has entered into around sixty cooperation agreements (memoranda of understanding, standard operational procedures, etc.) and readmission agreements. These agreements include provisions on the procedures for identification.

If no such agreement applies to the case in question, SEM has to contact foreign representations to request their assistance. It is only once SEM has established the identity of the foreign national concerned that preparations can be made for the return journey.

Last modification 26.04.2021

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