Am I, as a foreigner, still allowed to drive with my national licence after moving to Switzerland? Only temporarily. What happens then?
Newly arrived immigrants have one year. Within a maximum of twelve months following their arrival, they have to convert their foreign driving licence into the Swiss equivalent at the Road Traffic Licensing Department of their canton of residence. comparis.ch explains how you can have your foreign driving licence re-registered.
Can I keep my national driving licence?
No chance, unfortunately. Your foreign licence will be returned to the issuing authority in your home country. We therefore advise you to make a safety copy – even though the Swiss authorities register all the data!
Don't miss the deadline
If you are found driving on Swiss roads with your foreign licence after twelve months, this is considered driving without a valid licence, which can have unpleasant consequences. Depending on the canton, you will be required to do a test drive or to obtain a certification of your driving experience. In the canton of Zurich, it gets even more costly and time-consuming for those who still have no Swiss licence after 10 years. In such a case, the offender has to take the Swiss driving test.
The deadline for re-registration is calculated based on the entry date on the foreign national identity card.
What documents do I need to re-register? You need to personally hand in the following documents at the Road Traffic Licensing Department of your canton of residence:
- application form; can be downloaded from the cantonal departments' websites. Find a list of all departments here
- valid foreign driving licence (original)
- foreign national identity card; in case of a credit card-sized ID also a residence certificate
- colour passport photograph (35 x 45 mm)
- eye doctor's certificate (approval in the application form), costs: approx. 20 francs
- for category C1, C, D, D1 or 3 driving licences and licences for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward, a medical certificate from a fiduciary physician (website in German and French) is required
Do I have to take a driving test?
Citizens of EU and EFTA member states and of a few other countries such as the United States, Canada, Israel and Japan are not required to do a test drive (website in German).
How long does the re-registration procedure take?
Usually one week, sometimes more. In the canton of Zurich "the registration formalities may take longer in some individual cases". During this period, drivers should always have a copy of their application ready to show at a police checkpoint.
How much does it cost to re-register?
Depending on the canton between 80 and 140 francs.
What do bus and lorry drivers have to keep in mind?
Professional drivers need to obtain a Swiss driving licence before their first professional trip in Switzerland.
I am returning to my home country. Will I get my driving licence back?
Yes. If you convert your foreign licence into a Swiss licence, this does not mean that you give up the permission to drive in your home country. Don't worry, despite rumours to the contrary, you won't have to take the driving test again. Simply contact the road traffic authority in charge. It will take the necessary steps to help you get your national driving licence back soon.