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How to Get your Swiss Driver’s License when moving to Switzerland

Are you thinking of moving to Switzerland for good? Or have already been living in the canton of your choice for quite some time now? There are a number of adjustments to go through. Various documents must be submitted on time and to the required extent. For example, you must have your foreign permit changed to a Swiss driver’s license if you want to drive a car in your new home country. Fortunately, the process is quite uncomplicated for people arriving from all over the world. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. But don’t worry! Our team is here to help you every step of the way to get your so-called “Führerausweis”.

Basic Information and Deadlines

The authorities in Europe cooperate closely in many respects and try to make cross-border measures as easy as possible for every citizen. That’s why, after moving to Switzerland, you can continue driving with a valid foreign driver’s license without any restrictions for the time being. However, only during your first year. No more than 12 months may pass from the cut-off date of entry (to be found in your residence permit) before you need to register for a Swiss driver’s license. Otherwise you can no longer officially get behind the wheel in Switzerland.

Advice: Immediately after applying, put a copy of your application to transfer your driver’s license in your car. In an emergency, this can quickly help to clarify open questions. The first point of contact for the inspectors during – for example a routine control – will be the relevant road traffic office, called “Strassenverkehrsamt” in Switzerland.

Kontrollfahrt: A Mandatory Driving Test?

If you miss the deadline, you are no longer allowed to drive! You will have to change your permit to a Swiss driver’s license first. At this point, most offices now require a so-called “Kontrollfahrt”, a driving test, which is not unlike the usual practical driving exam. There you prove your skills on the road. The cost of the survey varies, but is usually in the range of 180 Swiss Francs (e.g. in Zurich). The so-called “Kontrollfahrt” can only be done in the official language of the canton (e.g. German in Zurich).

IMPORTANT: Emigrants from certain countries are inherently obliged to do the mentioned “Kontrollfahrt” when they are applying for the Swiss driver’s license. Only members of the EU or EFTA remain exempt from this obligation, as well as some other countries such as Australia, Canada or the USA. On the page of the canton of Zurich, you can find a clear list of all these states for download.

Watch Out when Getting your Swiss Driver’s License!

We can only advise everyone to prepare intensively for the upcoming exams. Private practice drives are an excellent way to brush up on your skills and also help alleviate any exam anxiety you may experience. Our expertise shows that, in addition to the necessary specialist knowledge, it is above all confidence in one’s own abilities that makes the difference. This is precisely why we founded carzi! With our app you can book your practice drives while filtering by your preferred language.

With our app, you can get in touch directly with the experts who are right for you and who will answer all your questions about the Swiss driver’s license.

If your driving test fails and you still need to have your foreign driver’s license accepted in Switzerland, you will now have to do a lot more work. First of all, your license to drive will be revoked and you can only get it back in the normal way with the help of a driving school. An exam of this kind can sadly not be repeated.

Step by Step to your Swiss Driver’s License

After entering the country, you have 12 months to acquire a driving license from Switzerland. To do so, you need a “Gesuch” entitled “Application to Exchange a Foreign Driver’s License”, which is a form provided by your local traffic office. Here you fill in your personal data, confirm your identity and hand in your eye examination. An indication of the desired category of your Swiss driver’s license should of course not be missing. For the canton of Bern the form looks like this: download.

Convert a Foreign Driving License in Switzerland: Everything you Need!

Basically, everything else is in your application form. Regardless of whether you will submit the form in ZurichSt. Gallen or Solothurn, the traffic offices should always be your first port of call. The completeness and accuracy of your application form is of great importance there. The following points are particularly crucial:

  • High-Quality Passport Photo – in color and against a sober background, with a neutral facial expression and in the standardized 35 x 45 millimeter format
  • Certified Eye Test – a visit to a Swiss optician or ophthalmologist, who will prepare the results for your application to change to a driving license from Switzerland (costs: about 20 Swiss francs)
  • Documents Proving your Identity – your ID-card or passport as well as your foreign driver’s license must be present as originals (and translated in case of non-Latin languages). When applying for a Swiss driver’s license for the first time, a confirmation of your identity is required

You are still in the probationary period? A Swiss driver’s license can be temporary for various reasons. In this case, newcomers must complete a so-called WAB course.

So if you want to get a Swiss driver’s license, you have to allow a little time. Even after submitting the application, it takes an average of one to two weeks for all documents to be sent by mail. The fees are around 100 Swiss Francs (plus the cost of the «Kontrollfahrt» if needed) – depending on the canton of choice and the additional services you need. Now you know how to transfer a driving license in Switzerland!

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