Combatting organised smuggling and cross-border crime demands much of employees and requires special expertise. In several areas, the Swiss Border Guard therefore employs various specialists.

Service Dog Handler (SDog Hdlr)

Service dogs are bought by the Administration, but they live with the families of the Service Dog Handlers (SDog Hdlr). They remain with the families after they retire.

Dogs have approx. 250 million olfactory cells, about 50 times as many as a human being. This sophisticated sense of smell, their innate curiosity and their play instinct are put to use during training. By rewarding them when they are successful, they learn the desired behaviour (conditioning). The dogs never have direct contact with narcotics.

Basic training begins at the age of three months and ends at the earliest at the age of 18 months.

The Swiss Border Guard trains and deploys the following types of service dogs in particular:

  • Guard Dogs (GDog)
  • Narcotics Dogs (NarcDog)
  • Explosive Detection Dogs (EDDog)
  • Tobacco Dogs (TobDog)
  • Species Detection Dogs (CITESDog)
  • Avalanche Dogs (AvDog)

Guard Dogs (GDog) are used to protect the handler, to confront persons or to secure property. They can also detect and find hidden objects.

Narcotics Dogs (NarcDog) are used to detect drugs such as cocaine, heroin, cannabis, amphetamines and synthetic drugs. The functions of Narcotics Dogs and Guard Dogs may also be combined.

Explosive Detection Dogs (EDDog) are used to detect all the usual explosives, weapons and ammunition.

Tobacco Dogs (TobDog) are used to detect tobacco products such as cigarettes or cigars.

Species Detection Dogs (CITESDog) are used to detect protected animal species or animal products such as ivory, fur or bushmeat.

Avalanche Dogs (AvDog) are used to rescue people buried in snow after avalanches.

Document Specialists

Training relating to documents (especially identification documents) is carried out by the Specialist Office for Documents (SODOC) of the Border Guard.

During basic training, Border Guards learn how to verify documents and secure counterfeits. Upon completion of basic training, they have the option of attending specialised document courses and other advanced training.

These document specialists are assigned to the individual teams in regular service operations and the Border Guard Region Commands (BG Reg Com). They serve as contact persons and regularly carry out internal continuing training.

Ion Mobility Spectrometer (IMS) Specialists

These specialists use Ion Mobility Spectrometers (IMS) and evaluate the results of the analysis. The IMS consists of an analysis device with a monitor and a notebook.

Both hand-held vacuums and wiping devices are used to take samples.

The entire device fits into a suitcase-sized container. Box wagons fitted with the IMS are also available.

The IMS is used to analyse up to 40 substances in very small volumes of at least 0.5 ng. Substances can be detected in seconds.

It is mainly used to detect precursor chemicals, narcotics and explosives. It can quickly show whether a person or object has been contaminated by prohibited substances.

The IMS is fitted with extensive security devices. Taking samples does not harm living beings, baggage, electronic devices or foodstuffs.

Vehicle Inspection Specialists

These specialists are trained to find and extract smuggled goods from vehicle cavities in accordance with forensic principles. They are Border Guards who are trained as auto mechanics or have a flair for technology. They are familiar with new developments on the vehicle market and the possibilities for hiding goods in vehicles.

They have their own vehicles at their disposal with a wide range of technical aids of all kinds, including cavity testing devices (endoscopes) connected with a monitor. The most important prerequisites continue to be know-how, experience and patience; a vehicle inspection may take several hours.

Mobile X-Ray Baggage Scanner (MOGRA) Specialists

These specialists use the Mobile X-Ray Baggage Scanner (MOGRA) and evaluate the results of the analysis. MOGRA consists of a box wagon and an installed, compact X-ray testing system - similar to X-ray scanning devices at airports.

MOGRA makes efficient and thorough inspection of baggage and packages possible. It is not used on living beings. Evaluation of the scanned images indicates irregularities to the user. In this way, the smuggling of goods can be detected and hiding places can be made visible.

The use of MOGRA does not harm baggage, electronic devices or foodstuffs.

Special Formation of the Federal Customs Administration (SPFO FCA)

The members of the Special Formation of the Federal Customs Administration (SPFO PCA) are the operational element in the fight against commercial organised smuggling and cross-border crime.

After a rigorous selection procedure and intensive training, the Border Guards of the SPFO FCA are deployed primarily to support customs investigations.

They carry out observations that are demanding in terms of time and geography, they participate in searches, and they secure objects and persons. They do not carry out their own investigations, however.

Civil Aviation Security Officers (TIGER / FOX)

The Federal Security Service (FSS) of the Federal Office of Police (fedpol) is responsible for recruiting, training and deploying Civil Aviation Security Officers. In addition to Border Guards, members of cantonal and municipal police corps as well as Military Security (Mil Sec) are deployed.

Their task is to monitor safety-relevant developments on board and to prevent attacks that might endanger the safety of the aircraft or passengers (Air Marshalls / TIGER).

On the ground, i.e. at the airport, security officers carry out inspections of passengers, hand luggage, and checked luggage. They also monitor inspections of the locally responsible bodies for the purpose of preventing prohibited objects from passing (Ground Marshalls / FOX).


The foreign assignments of the Border Guard protect Switzerland's security interests also abroad.

For operations on behalf of the European border security agency FRONTEX, a pool of specialists with various areas of expertise is headed by the Swiss Border Guard Command (SBG Com). Among other tasks, the European border security agency FRONTEX coordinates the operational cooperation of the member states in relation to security of external borders, supports the member states in the training of national border protection officers, defines common training standards, carries out risk analyses, and supports the member states in situations requiring greater technical and operational support at the external borders.

Document specialists are deployed for assignments as so-called airline liaison officers (ALO). They advise and provide support to airlines for the checking of documents. Their tasks include recognising fake documents, identifying people and drawing up risk profiles. ALOs are assigned to international airports outside the Schengen area.

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is responsible for deployments of Civilian Police Monitors (CIVPOL). It engages specialists from the Swiss Border Guard and the police authorities, who work abroad under the direction of international organisations such as the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU). Its responsibilities include the establishment and training of local police, advising of security, traffic, criminal and border police, and the fight against organised crime.

Other specialists

Also in other specialised areas, the Swiss Border Guard has its own specialists who receive internal and/or external basic and advanced training in their specialised areas, such as for the evaluation and analysis of information, biometrics, training, etc.

Further info

The context is available in: