Swiss citizenship can be acquired in a number of ways: by marriage, by maternal or paternal descent, if you are a child with a parent with Swiss citizenship, have been recognised as a stateless child, if you believe you have been a Swiss citizen for at least five years, reinstatement of Swiss citizenship or if you have lived in the country for ten years and possess a C permit. For information on acquiring a C permit see the post: Integration – Eligibility for a C Permit.
Children are considered Swiss from birth with the following: married parents with at least one Swiss parent; an unmarried Swiss mother; an unmarried Swiss father – as long as the father acknowldedges paternity before the child turns 18; were adopted abroad with at least one Swiss parent.
Unlike many other countries, children born in Switzerland do not automatically obtain citizenship. Cantonal obligations also play a part in how long and how difficult acquiring citizenship can be.
There are two forms of naturalisation:
Simplified naturalisatioin is also known as facilitated or fast-track naturalisation. This is the easiest route to citizenship with the decision made by the federal government only. Applicants must prove that they have ‘successfully integrated’:
- married to a Swiss citizen for three years and lived in Switzerland for five years, including the year before application, or
- married to a Swiss citizen for six years living abroad, have close ties to Switzerland and knowledge of one of the languages
Maternal or Paternal descent:
- at least one grandparent was born in Switzerland or has acquired residence
- at least one parent has lived in Switzerland for ten years, obtained a permanent residence and attended school for at least five years
- applicant was born in Switzerland, holds a permanent residence and attended school for at least five years
- application is received before the applicants 25th birthday
- if applicant is over 25 but under 40 the application can still be submitted before 15 February 2023 as long as all other requirements are met
- of a naturalized parent – the child was a minor at the time the parents applied for naturalisation, applied before they have turned twenty two, lived in Switzerland for five years including the three years before applying.
- stateless children – five years residence in Switzerland, including the year before applying.
This route takes longer, and is more complex, as there is a requirement to go through the communal, cantonal and federal government. People who have the C permit and have lived in Switzerland for ten years can apply to their canton of residence for ordinary naturalisation. Proof of ‘successful integration’ is required as per simplified naturalisation.
Requirements for ordinary naturalisation:
- ten years of residence and hold a C permit
- the years for children between the ages of eight and eighteen count as double requiring at least six years residence in the country
- length of residence includes time with a B permit and C permit,
- time of residence with an N permit and L permit are not included
- only half the time of an F permit is counted
- people living in a resident partnership have a shorter residence requirement and must have resided here for at least five years
- individual cantons have minimum lengths of residence between two to five years before you can apply
Reinstatement of Swiss citizenship:
- only possible if you have previously held Swiss citizenship and not lost it due to: no longer the child of a Swiss parent, have been adopted by a foreign parent, naturalisation has been declared null and void, Swiss citizenship has been revoked
- must be ‘successfully integrated’, have close ties if you live abroad
- if citizenship was lost less than ten years ago
- if citizenship was lost more than ten years ago you are required to have lived in Switzerland for the past three years and intend to stay permanently
Successful integration is considered as: participation in the economic, social and cultural life of Switzerland; familiarity with local customs; respect for public security and order; knowledge of at least one local language; employment, proof of education or a study plan; support your family members to integrate; respect of the values of the Federal Constitution.
Due consideration is taken into account if you are unable to participate in economic life, acquire an education or sufficiently learn a language due to disability, illness or other personal circumstances.
Benefits of Swiss citizenship:
The notable differences between citizenship and permanent residency are the opportunity to vote, to stand for election and depending on age, possible military service. The most significant advantage of citizenship is that you are able to leave Switzerland for any length of time without losing your Swiss status.
How do I become a Swiss citizen? in English
Federal Act on Swiss Citizenship in English
Cantonal immigration and employment market authorities links are in German.