Becoming Swiss – what does it take

On the 12th of February there will be a referendum to make it easier for 3rd generation foreigners to apply for Swiss citizenship. This means that their grandparents immigrated here, their parents lived here and they themselves were born in Switzerland. That this should be put to a democratic vote shows that getting a Swiss passport is more complicated than some think. Here we outline the various cases.

Regular naturalisation:

People who have been residents in Switzerland for 12 years (out of 20) may apply for this. As of 2018 they will also need to be in possession of a C Permit.

The demand for naturalisation has to be submitted to the commune you live in. You must have lived for 3 years in the canton of Lucerne to be able to submit your application here. It’s 5 years in Obwalden, Schwyz and Zug, and 6 years in Nidwalden. Very often you are required to have lived for 3 years in the commune you want to apply in.

You must be well integrated, have a good knowledge of German, a good understanding of Swiss culture, geography and the way of life here, be in compliance with the rule of law and considered no danger to internal or external security. You will be interviewed by somebody to assess whether you are suitable or not.

You can download more information here.

Facilitated naturalisation:

If you are married to a Swiss then you can apply much sooner but only the state can make the decision whether to accept your application or not.

Foreign spouses of Swiss nationals must comply with the following: have lived a total of 5 years in Switzerland, been married to their spouse for 3 years and have lived the last year locally prior to applying for citizenship.

People who have close ties with Switzerland may apply for facilitated naturalisation even if they are resident abroad. In such cases, however, they must have been married to a Swiss spouse for at least six years.

The same requirements of integration and understanding Swiss culture are made and also being in compliance with the rule of law.


Applying for citizenship will cost you roughly between CHF 2500.- and CHF 3500.- depending where you’ve applied. It is not recommended to move to another city or canton during your application process as you will have to reapply from your new “home”.

Switzerland does not require you to give up your original nationality but you should check with your country of origin whether they do as that may mean extra costs for you.


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