Safe third country



Swiss Refugee Council

The Federal Council is also responsible for the designation of states where there is effective protection against refoulement1 as safe third countries.2 The Federal Council shall periodically review these decisions.3 The following requirements must be met:4

  • Ratification of and compliance with the ECHR, the Refugee Convention, the Convention against Torture and the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

  • Political stability which guarantees the compliance with the mentioned legal standards.

  • Compliance with the principle of a state governed by the rule of law.

According to the Asylum Appeals Commission (predecessor of the Federal Administrative Court), what is relevant is the possibility to find actual protection in the third country. This is not the case if there is no access to the asylum procedure or if the third country only applies the Refugee Convention to European Refugees.5 According to the materials of the Federal Council in preparation of the mentioned provision, it is also necessary that the third country accepts the readmission of the person in question.6

This list includes so far all EU and EFTA member states.7


Connection criteria

According to the law, the SEM shall normally dismiss an application for asylum if the asylum seeker can return to a safe third country as described above in which he or she was previously resident. In practice, these are normally cases in which the asylum seeker already has international protection (or another type of residence permit) in an EU/EFTA-member state. If the person was there as an asylum seeker or had merely passed through, the Dublin Regulation applies, and not the safe third country rule (all countries on the safe third country list are Dublin member states as well).

  • 1. As defined in Article 5(1) AsylA.
  • 2. Article 6a(2)(b) AsylA.
  • 3. Article 6a(3) AsylA.
  • 4. Federal Council, Bundesblatt (Federal Gazette) 2002, available in German at:, 6877ff.
  • 5. Asylum Appeals Commission, Decision EMARK 2000/10, 2001/14.
  • 6. Federal Council, Bundesblatt (Federal Gazette) 2002, 6884.
  • 7. SEM, Press release of 14 December 2007, available at:

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti