Getting your Swiss Driving Licence

During the first year, most people can use their current foreign driver’s license issued from their home country to drive in Switzerland. You must, however, be 18 years old, the license must be in a language recognised by the Swiss authorities (English, French, German or Italian) or you will need to carry either an International Driver’s license or an International Driving Permit (IDP) which translates your driver’s license for you, and it must have been issued by a competent authority abroad.

If you will be living in Switzerland for more than one year, you will need to convert your foreign license into a Swiss license before the end of the first 12 months. Depending on your nationality, this can be done without having to take any additional tests. Others will need to take practical driving tests and some may even need to take theory as well. It is recommended to contact the Strassenverkehrsamt within your first few months to determine the steps you have to take. Applications can take time to process so do not wait to till the end of the year to apply.

EU Citizens

If you are from a EU country or Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein you can exchange your foreign driver’s licence for a Swiss one within one year without having to take a test. There is a fee for getting your Swiss licence and as of February 2016 it is 45 CHF. This might change though so have a look on their website before you head to the office. You will also need to have had an eye examination with an optician. Normally the optician will also be able to provide you with the necessary forms for you to fill out and bring to the Strassenverkehrsamt. I would highly recommend Alex in McOptik in Kriens. Alex speaks fluent English and helped me with filling out the form by translating some of the questions that I was unsure of.

Citizens from outside the EU

A test drive is required for licenses issued by countries outside of the EU or EFTA. However if you are from the USA, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and Singapore you are not required to take a test drive, but may be asked to provide additional documentation instead.

If you fail to convert your license within the first year or fail the practical test, you could be required to take both the theory and practical tests. We recommend checking with the Verkehrsamt Luzern to see which rules will apply to you as soon as you can.

This post has been published in our latest magazine, which you can read online here.

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