Driving license
Home > Relocation Guide > Relocation questions > Cars > License

The minimum age for obtaining a Swiss driving license is 18 for cars and two-wheeled vehicles of 50 cc or more and 14 for two-wheeled vehicles less than 50 cc. In the majority of cases, you can use your foreign license if you have one, but you must abide by certain conditions.

Validity of foreign driving licenses in Switzerland
You can use your foreign license for one year. Within this time, you are required to exchange your license for a national driving license (cf. Annexe of the Automobile Service: "foreign driving license exchange request"), except if you have an 18-month authorization for residence. Holders of a certificate of incumbency are advised to contact the driving license office beforehand.

Take note, however, that if you do not request a Swiss license within the first year, you will have to pass the Swiss driving test before you are authorized to drive.

Holders of an African (except South Africa), Asian (except Japan), Central and South American, Portuguese or Turkish license must pass a practical exam. If they fail the exam, they will be required to take the full exam, written included.

Required documents (EU or EFTA license):

  • Foreign license exchange request form (annexe)
  • Original national driving license to be exchanged
  • Accepted eye test certificate
  • Two passport photos, frontal view, bareheaded
  • Authorization for residence or permanent establishment or a recognition card or, failing that, any other official paper or proof of residence

You will receive your driving license a week later.

If you move within the same canton, you must send your license and vehicle registration papers to the Automobile Service of your canton for updating. If you move to another canton, you will have to request a new license from the Automobile Service of your new canton within the first 14 days of your move.

Learning to drive in Switzerland

You must be 18 years of age to learn how to drive in Switzerland. The process begins with a 10-hour first aid course in which you learn how to give assistance to traffic accident victims. Then, you must follow eight hours of obligatory theory (traffic-awareness course).

Once you begin to drive, you must be accompanied by a person over 24 years of age who has had his or her license for at least three years. You must also attach a sticker (a white L on a blue background) to the windshield of your car to show that you are a "learner" driver.

You are not required to take driving lessons with a professional instructor to obtain your license, although it is recommended since the instructors know exactly what the examiners expect... It's at your own risk. Bear in mind that it will cost you approximately 75 Swiss francs an hour. There are extremely well-organized guilds of driving school instructors, who are applying increasingly restrictive measures to limit access to their profession and maintain their rates. Moreover, constant pressure is placed on the government to raise driver training standards for young drivers, in the name of road safety and to the great benefit of driving school instructors. Some see in this a pathetic example of a corporation who uses the "public good", as a means to capture its own profitable market. So grin and bear it, but don't let them walk all over you.
The temporary license allocation fee, the practical and theoretical exams and the highway code manual cost approximately 250 Swiss francs (although this varies by canton).

A book listing the 600 possible questions on the theory exam can be purchased for 10 francs from your canton's Automobile Service.

The Swiss driving test includes a written exam (that can be taken in English or in other foreign languages) and a practical test.

The practical test can be taken only three times. If you fail it three times, you are required to consult a psychologist who will decide if you are mentally fit to drive and who can offer you a fourth and final attempt... But you would have to demonstrate a real inaptitude for driving to get to that point.

© Micheloud & Cie 2013      Tel. ++41 21 331 48 48  info@switzerland.isyours.com. No part of this site may be reproduced in any form or by any means without our prior written permission. Printed from http://Switzerland.isyours.com/e/immigration/relocation/vehicles/driving_license.html