1.6 On your first visit to CERN

Complete: 5

This page is currently being updated.

Detailed Review status



The CERN facility spans two sites; Meyrin in Switzerland and Prevessin in France. While the CMS detector is located in France, Cessy (Point 5), which is about 15 km from CERN Meyrin site, the facilities and offices that most CMS members will use when visiting CERN are all in the Meyrin site.

The purpose of this WorkBook chapter is to give users a few tips to make their first visit to CERN as smooth as possible.

Before coming

See CERN's users' office page .

Before coming to CERN, you must make sure you have all of the required documents. You should work your way through the checklist on the User Contracts Registration page of the Users Office. Or, if you're a short-term visitor (up to three months) go to Short Term Registration. These pages contain most of the information you need for coming to CERN.

Note that you will need your passport, proof of your medical insurance including death and disability (an insurance card is sufficient), and a copy of your contract or other documentation confirming your employment (or enrolment, if a student) at your home institute.

Find out who your Team Leader is since you will need his/her signature on the UO registration form.

On arrival

If you arrive during working hours, your first stop should be the CERN Reception at Building 33 to get a temporary visitor card. If you are staying in the CERN Hostel, you can collect your key at the building 39 hostel reception desk (even if you are staying in building 38). If you arrive outside normal hours, your key will be waiting for you at the security office (building 120).

On your first full working day, you'll need to visit the Users' Office. It is located near the restaurant, bank, and post office in building 61) and take all the documentation mentioned above. You will be asked to go to building 55 to collect your CERN access card.

Once your CERN registration is done, please pass by the CMS Secretariat to register in the CMS Database. The CMS pre-registration form can be completed in advance.

For the computer account, follow the instructions given in section Getting a Computer Account.

Laptop registration

Laptop: The NICE account is needed (and activated at least one day earlier) for the registration of a laptop, see Getting a Computer Account.

Procedure: open the wireless, search the "CERN" network and follow the instructions.

In case you need ethernet, it has to be registered separately as well as the wall plug. For details, see: http://network.cern.ch/

Useful information about CERN

See the CERN Guide for Newcomers .

Language and Currency

CERN is a bilingual international organization (French/English).

In Switzerland, Swiss Francs (CHF) are the local currency, while in France the Euro is used, and there are few places which will take either currency. The exchange rate is approximately CHF 1.6 = EURO 1. The automatic teller machines in the main building (building 50) on the Meyrin site provide cash in either currency (though for foreign cards they will provide only Swiss Francs.

Should you need to open a bank account in Switzerland (e.g. summer studentship programme participants need to open a bank account to receive their subsistence payments) it is usual and easiest to open an account with the UBS bank which has a branch in the main building (building 50).

Getting around

The number 56 bus will take you from the main site (Meyrin) to the Avanchet stop where you need to change to tram (14 or 16) to get into the centre of Geneva. The ticket costs CHF3 and it can be bought from a ticket machine at each but stop but the machine does not give change. You can also by 20, 30 or 50CHF bus cards at the news stand in the main building.

A recommended point to get off for your first trip into town is the main train station, Gare Cornavin. This puts you essentially in the centre of town, and it's very easy to find the bus back to CERN.

Note that you can also borrow bikes from CERN for free during your stay. A refundable deposit of 100 CHF is required and lights and a lock are provided, as well as servicing for punctures and other problems.

Living in France

It is a bit cheaper to live on the French side of the border - hotel rates are much less, food is cheaper, ...

See visa requirements for Switzerland and France at UO web pages . Please note: This needs to be done and submitted well in advance of your trip.

Invitation letters requests:


Please read carefully the Dosimetry Service web pages for information about getting a dosimeter (and note the medical certificate requirements that exist in some cases). You should wear a dosimeter when at CERN unless you are working only in offices. It is compulsory if you will be in any radiation controlled areas, e.g. around a radioactive source in a laboratory.

If you have a dosimeter, you are required to have it checked every month, even if you are not at CERN.

Further information

Users FAQ

Most of the information in this workbook chapter was sourced by following links in the CERN Users Office FAQ, which is a very useful document to consult if you have a problem or question.

Miscellaneous information


For making local calls, you can purchase cheap SIM cards at the general store in the main building (building 50) - for 20 Francs, you get a SIM card with 20 Francs credit and very cheap local calls and texts and good rates for texting overseas. The drawback is that all the instructions are in either French, Italian or German! For international calls you should investigate the calling cards which are available in many shops.


There are plenty of cinemas with English- and French-language viewings of films in Geneva which are very close to the CERN bus-stops. You should check in advance to determine the schedules and languages of the presentations.

Review status

Reviewer/Editor and Date (copy from screen) Comments
KatiLassilaPerini - 08 Dec 2008 updated users office links
KatiLassilaPerini - 24 Jan 2008 minor edits
KatiLassilaPerini - 28 Nov 2006 Implemented comments from Marie-Claude
JennyWilliams - 07 Oct 2007 General editing, and added comments about cell phones and bikes

Responsible: JennyWilliams
Last reviewed by: Marie-Claude.Pelloux - 22 Feb 2008

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