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Driving licence

Foreign driving licence in Switzerland

The driving licence obtained in other European countries is also valid in Switzerland. In the following text and the procedure I have based myself on the European driving licence. For driving licences from other countries additional rules may apply. Your driver's license must be transferred to a Swiss driver's license within the next 12 months after immigration. This is because after one year the foreign driving licence loses its validity and you would, legally speaking, be driving without a licence. It is ideal to rewrite your driving licence when the imported vehicle is re-registered. Because the vehicle must also be re-registered within 12 months.

Important: Persons who wish to drive professionally registered vehicles in Switzerland require a Swiss driving licence before starting their first journey.

Note: If the foreign driving licence is still on probation, the Swiss driving licence issued is issued for a limited period. Within this period, a further training course (WAB) of the two-phase training must be completed. This course lasts one day and costs around 300 Swiss francs depending on the provider. The course deals with correct braking, accident avoidance and economical driving. The unlimited driver's license can be applied for at the earliest 4 weeks before the deadline and should be applied for at the responsible traffic office at the latest 3 days before the deadline. Because after the expiry date the limited driving licence loses its validity and you would otherwise no longer be in possession of a valid driving licence. It is sufficient to go to the traffic office with the course confirmation and the expiring driving licence and apply for it there directly. The dispatch of the new unlimited driving licence usually takes 2-3 days.

Change your driving licence

The Swiss driving licence can be applied for at the responsible traffic office. The costs for issuing and exchanging the new driving licence amount to approximately 90 Swiss francs. The following documents are required:

  • Application form (available at the cantonal road traffic office, usually also available online as a download)
  • The original foreign driver's license (Attention: you will not get it back)
  • Copy of the foreigner's identity card
  • A recent passport photo (dimensions 35 x 45 mm)
  • Eye test (to be confirmed on the application form)

In the event that an old driving licence is available which entitles the holder to drive vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes and the holder wishes to continue to do so, the form "Entitlement up to 7.5 tonnes with exchange of foreign driving licence" must be filled in and enclosed.  In this case, an examination by the public health officer is required for a fee. This will then be carried out regularly (depending on age) and is associated with costs each time. If this is waived, the full examination must be taken in order to regain this entitlement.

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Frequently asked questions and answers

Should I change my driving licence within one year even if I will not be driving a car in Switzerland in the near future?

Yes absolutely. After one year, the foreign driving licence loses its validity and may no longer be used in Switzerland. The road traffic office is then no longer obliged to exchange it and may insist on a control drive or the completion of a new driving test.

How long does the transfer to a Swiss driving licence take?

After submitting the application, it takes about 1-2 weeks until you receive your new driver's licence in the post. With a bit of luck, the licence will arrive within a few days.

Can I continue to drive until I receive my new ID card?

Yes, in Switzerland, but not abroad. To be on the safe side, you can simply take a copy of the application with you to prove that the Swiss driver's licence was applied for. If in doubt, the police will simply ask at the road traffic office.

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