How to Get Your Swiss Driving Licence
Exchanging Your Driving Licence For A Swiss One
Drive for up to 12 Months on Your Home Licence
You’ve arrived safely in Switzerland and you’ve got your new car and you want to drive it! The good news is that you can drive on your home driving licence in Switzerland for up to 12 months – but after that you need to be driving on a Swiss driving licence.
Apply For Swiss Licence as Soon as You Receive Ausweis
In fact 12 months goes very quickly – so we recommend you apply for your Swiss driver’s licence as soon as you get your Ausweis. Getting your Swiss driving licence as soon as you can is really important for expats and newcomers to Switzerland and you must do it within 12 months or arriving in Switzerland.
Failure to do so can involve a lengthy paper work filling in process, additional costs and driving tests and no end of time taken up with bureaucracy. In the worst case you could end up being fined and banned from driving if you were to continue driving beyond 12 months on your home driving licence!
Process for Citizens of EU and EFTA Countries
Getting your Swiss driving licence is quite straightforward for citizens of EU and EFTA countries. The only thing you need to wait for before you can apply is your Ausweis – or Swiss residence permit. As soon as that arrives you are good to go!
Countries Included in the EU and EFTA Categories
The following countries are included in the EU and EFTA categories for the purpose of obtaining a Swiss driving licence:
Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, UK, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Cyprus.
Other countries included:
Andorra, Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, Korea (Republic of), Marocco, Monaco, Newealand, San Marino, Singapore, Taiwan, Tunisia and USA.
The steps to get your Swiss Driving Licence
- Be in possession of your Ausweis or residence permit (this usually takes under a month but occasionally it can take up to 10 weeks if they are extremely busy)
- Visit your local Opticians or go along to one of the major chains in Zurich – (often you don’t need to make an appointment) and tell them you need the eye test for a driving licence. Usually they will have the form there. You simply have the test, they fill in the form and you pay your money for the test. Keep hold of this form.
- Go to the photo booth at your local Railway Station or shopping centre and get a colour passport photo.
- Equipped with all the above and of course a) your original home driving licence b) this application form and c) money for the fee, visit your Gemeinde. They will check the form over, take your fee and send it off to the Strassenverkehrsamt. Often you will get your shiny new Swiss driving licence within the week!
Depending on which country you are from you will either exchange your licence (if you’re British for example, your original is sent home to the DVLA in the UK and you get it back when you eventually leave Switzerland for good) or if you have an American driving licence, they simply let you keep it but the put a sticker on it saying it’s not valid for use in Switzerland).
Kontrollfahrt for Non-EU and Non-EFTA
If you are a non-EU or non-EFTA licence holder, you go through the same process listed above, so you also have up to 12 months to do this, but in addition you have to do a “Kontrollfahrt” – or short driving test to check you can drive ok. This must be taken within 3 months of exchanging your licence.
Practice Lessons from Swiss Driving Instructor
The Kontrollfahrt is usually quite straightforward but many people choose to contact a local Swiss driving instructor beforehand to get a couple of lessons practice before taking this test. This is not a bad idea as if you fail it you cannot re-do it and you will have to apply for a licence from scratch.
Queries and Questions
Swiss rules and regulations are apt to change at short notice so to be 100% sure of the latest situation or if you have any queries at all call the Strassenverkehrsamt. Many of them speak English and I have personally always found them to be very helpful. Their telephone number is: +41 58 811 30 00 . Alternatively, you can always go along and visit them during office hours.
For more information please visit the Strassenverkehrsamt website here.
Good luck on getting your Swiss Driving Licence!
We aim to keep this article as up to date as we can but always contact the Strassenwerkehrsamt if you have any queries at all as they are the experts. The Strassenverkehrsamt Zurich can be contacted on 044 383 33 44. The automatic reply lists several options in German only (!) so use Option 4 which is for general or “other” enquiries.
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