Safe third country


Country Report: Safe third country Last updated: 10/07/24


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The Federal Council is also responsible for the designation of states where there is effective protection against refoulement[1] as safe third countries.[2] They should periodically review these decisions.[3]


Safety criteria

The following requirements must be met:[4]

  • Ratification of and compliance with the ECHR, the Refugee Convention, the UN 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 so far includes all EU and EFTA member states.[7] For further details on case law related to EU countries as safe third countries, see Suspension of transfers.


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 they were previously a 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. In these cases, bilateral readmission agreements[8] define the process of the person’s return. If the person was there as an asylum seeker or merely passed through, the Dublin Regulation applies, rather than 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:, 6877 et seq.

[5] Asylum Appeals Commission, Decisions EMARK 2000/10 and 2001/14.

[6] Federal Council, Bundesblatt (Federal Gazette) 2002, 6884.

[7] SEM, Bezeichnung aller EU- und EFTA-Staaten als sichere Drittstaaten, 14 December 2007, available in German at:

[8] Available at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection