While some formalities such as registering your car with the relevant cantonal road traffic office must be taken care of right away, new residents (18 or older) may temporarily drive in Switzerland on a valid foreign driver’s license for 12 months starting from the date of arrival noted on their Swiss residence permit. Those who fail to make the exchange within a year can be fined for driving with an invalid driver's license and may be required to take the theory and practical tests to obtain a Swiss license.
Local driving school DriveLab outlines how you can easily apply for a Swiss driver's license:
- Download the application form and fill it out completely.
- Take a passport photo and paste it on the form.
- Visit an optician and have an eye test confirmed on the form.
- If it is not written in Latin letters, obtain a translation of your driver’s license at an embassy.
- Sign the form TWICE. Once at the bottom and once in the red box.
Next, go to the nearest road traffic office in your canton or to the residents’ registration office in your municipality and submit your application. You will need to take the following with you:
- Completed application form.
- Foreign driver’s license.
- Swiss residence permit (Ausländerausweis).
- If necessary, the translation of your driver’s license.
You will find out in a matter of days whether your driver’s license can be exchanged without an inspection drive (Kontrollfahrt). This depends on the agreements your home country has with Switzerland as traffic rules vary greatly, and typically applies to nationals from outside the EEA. Non-EU nationals may also be required to sit the theory test.
Here are a few more important answers on the subject:
Do I have to take driving lessons before the inspection drive?
No - there is no obligation to take driving lessons. However, it is strongly recommend that you prepare yourself accordingly and consider driving lessons to get familiar with the rules that apply on Swiss roads. If you do not pass the inspection drive, you will be required to undergo the whole process for obtaining a license including first aid courses, the theory and practical tests.
What is being tested?
The inspection drive takes about 45 minutes. During this time, your behaviour in traffic, speed, maneuvers, etc. is checked. An exact description of the requirements is available in German here.
Can I go to the inspection drive with my own vehicle?
Yes, of course. It's even recommend because it’s usually best to drive your own car. Make sure your car is safe to use. Right at the start of the exam, the lights, tires, mirrors, horn, windshield wipers and brakes are checked for obvious defects. If you are not sure whether your car meets the requirements, ask your instructor during your driving lessons.
For the original article, please visit DriveLab.