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Old 01.01.2013, 22:05
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Can I exchange my US driver's license?

Hi,
New to the forum so I apologize if this is in the wrong spot.
I have searched for an answer online to my question but read
varying answers...hopefully someone can help us out.
My husband and I looking to retire to Switzerland next year.
I have dual citizenship with Italy and my husband is now working on his
so we can both enter the country as EU citizens. I doubt that will effect how we drive there as permanent residents but my question is are we , coming from the US allowed to just exhchange our driving licenses for a Swiss one or are we required to take any testing?

Thanks in advance,
Deb
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Old 01.01.2013, 22:30
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Re: Can I exchange my driver's license?

Thank you for placing my question in the correct area. I think I've found the answer to my question..

Deb
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Old 01.01.2013, 23:01
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Re: Can I exchange my driver's license?

i just know chinese can use china driving license here for one year. then have to pass a driving test here. if not pass, then need to learn from the beginning again.
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Old 02.01.2013, 05:08
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Re: Can I exchange my driver's license?

Thank you for your response Lily.
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Old 02.01.2013, 11:42
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Re: Can I exchange my driver's license?

Yes. You can get a Swiss license without taking a test. The only hitch is that you need proof of when your original driver's license was issued.

If it is not on the license itself, you'll need to find some sort of document from the DMV. Otherwise you could get into a bit of a mess.
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Old 02.01.2013, 15:46
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Re: Can I exchange my driver's license?

mininMia, thank you so much for this information-it is extremely helpful
and so important that we knew this before hand! I can work on that from now from our DVM.
I appreciate your thoughtful response!!


Deb
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Old 02.01.2013, 16:45
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Re: Can I exchange my driver's license?

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mininMia, thank you so much for this information-it is extremely helpful
and so important that we knew this before hand! I can work on that from now from our DVM.
I appreciate your thoughtful response!!

Deb
I just asked my DMV for an official signed letter showing when my original license was issued. I had to go into the office and explain the reasoning to them, but once they understood why, it should be no problem. (Mine was from Michigan).

Just FYI, when you turn over your license here, they will date the Swiss license from your 18th birthday. So even if you got your license at 16 like many Americans, the Swiss one reflects 18 onward. (I even got a letter explaining that to me when they mailed the actual license to my home. Very polite and friendly people, at least here in Zürich.)
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Old 02.01.2013, 17:38
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Re: Can I exchange my US driver's license?

Circe, thank you so very much for this addtional information!
All very helpful. Also, didn't know that about the Swiss putting the age as 18.
The more we know the better!
(Our licenses will be from NJ).

Have great day, and many thanks to all of you for your thoughtful and
very helpful replies!

Deb
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Old 02.01.2013, 18:56
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Re: Can I exchange my US driver's license?

Excuse me asking, but why do you want to retire here? Americans aren't loved by the banks here due to the incoming FATCA law so getting a bank account could be difficult. At the moment only UBS and Credit Suisse will accept you. If your husband can get his second citizenship sorted out, then if you can, use Italian passports for opening accounts.

Also you will need to continue filing US tax returns once you move here.
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Old 02.01.2013, 19:21
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Re: Can I exchange my US driver's license?

I'm not so sure it's so easy to just come here to live retired. You will of course have to prove a good income and support, plus have the required insurance from here. Places to live here are extremely expensive for retires on a fixed income. Plus you have to get a permit I would guess. The Drivers license exchange is the least of problems. Owning a car here with the road tax on it plus the auto insurance is not like in the U.S. It's extremely expensive compared to there. You really need to look at the big picture of everything I would guess to compare. Yes it's nice here but terribly expensive compared to finding a really cute place in northern Italy if your both citizens there. Hope this makes sense I sometimes don't think straight lol.
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Old 02.01.2013, 19:44
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Re: Can I exchange my US driver's license?

Sliced has raised more points to consider.

There's a very useful book called "Living and Working in Switzerland" which is full of info on what you need to know before and after you arrive. You can order it from your local bookshop or Amazon. There's also a sister publication called "Buying and Renting in Switzerland" which gives more detailed info on that side of things.

You're obviously thinking ahead which is good, but have you considered the long term effects on your pension with the fluctuating exchange rates? The dollar is worth less than one Swiss Franc and could go lower in future. How could that affect your future finances?
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Old 02.01.2013, 20:36
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Re: Can I exchange my US driver's license?

Hi Medea and Sliced,

I hope you don't mind me addressing both of your comments here..

First, I want to thank you both for raising very good points.

.Medea, I had sent for "Living and Working in Switzerland" and have owned it for a while actually--time to dig it out again now that the time has come ! But thank you for suggesting it..I think we wil lpurchse the other book you've mentioned as well. To answer your question about why we want to retire to Switzerland..well, can't think of anything thing to say other than that we simply love it there. That's it, plain and simple. As Sliced pointed out will it be so easy to move over and retire peacefully in the place we love the most? We are hoping so.
I am aware of the potential difficulties regarding the banks... I know we will have to purchase health insurance..we feel we have enough between persions and savings that we feel proves to be sufficiant. The fluctuating exchange rates of course are being taken into consideration and will have to be seriously factured in.. We'd be quite crazy if we did not take into consideration all the you've both mentioned. In the end, we're "trying" to make this a reality..we still have more to look into now that to the time in our lives to seriously make a move is finally here. Who knows,we may very well end up in northern Italy! Not too shabby either!

Sliced, yes, you've made perfect sense! Would there be a place we could find out just how much road tax and auto insurance could cost us? Or perhaps that info in in the Living and Workiing in Switzerland book we need to dig out. My husband is definatley going tho follow though with his citizenship and we don't anticipate any problems with him getting it , that said, everything that you have both brought up we thank you for. I know you are both trying to be helpful by pointing out things we may not have considered. So-what we will do is look at things, compare things. What we'd then like to do is try to come over and rent for a period of a few months to get the feel for actually living there..you know, dreams can come at a cost and we have to be able to be practical and afford that dream because if we make this jump we want it to be our last.
So, now it's a matter of questions questions and more questions! And some verrrrry complete research. We may wind up being disappointed but it's better than making a huge mistake!

Many many thanks to both of you!!

Deb
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Old 02.01.2013, 20:54
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Re: Can I exchange my US driver's license?

Medea, thank you also for the advice of using the Italian passports for the bank accounts.

Found this on ,"Switerland is Yours" ,website...

Does this sound about right?

Fully comprehensive insurance
Yearly premium ranges from 1,437 to 2,528 Swiss francs, depending on the company. This premium can drop as low as 597 Swiss francs with a maximum bonus. The fully comprehensive insurance deductible is 1,000 Swiss francs

. Yikes!!

Ohhh.,wow. You know..when have fallen so in love with a place for so many years and you think, someday.....and the cold hard facts hit you...ugh. Breaks my heart because this was not something we wanted to do as on a whim. Eh...better to cry now than later I suppose. *sigh*.
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Old 02.01.2013, 20:57
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Re: Can I exchange my US driver's license?

Dear Deb from Michigan,

Welcome to the Forum and a potential welcome to Switzerland. I think it's great that you are considering retiring here--you could not pick a more idyllic place to live, (especially down here in the Suisse Romande where the weather is nicer and the people and rules are more relaxed!)

You need to keep in mind that many, many people on this forum who are going to reply to your questions are well-meaning, work-a-day folks or students who are trying to get by in this very, very expensive country. All of their concerns regarding insurance costs, banking issues, etc. are quite valid. If you and your husband are, indeed, anticipating being on a budget, then you need to take these issues to heart before you make a move in this direction.

If, however, you are financially stable and in a very comfortable situation, then you need to stop worrying. There are many multinational ex-pats here, both retired and still employed, who have no difficulties acquiring bank accounts, mortgages, or anything else. If this is your situation, relax. Find a house or apartment, invite the kids and grandkids for fantastic visits and live out your days in paradise. You won't regret it.
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Old 02.01.2013, 21:20
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Re: Can I exchange my US driver's license?

Hi there TheSpouse!

Nice to hear from you. Thank you for the welcome!! (I'm actually Deb from NJ, lol...I think Circ is from Michigan? )
Anyway, thank you--I do realize everyone is trying to be very helpful and open our eyes to some facts which we may have not considered. I will say this..we are not wealthy by any means...we do both have good pensions and savings. We would both be arriving as EU citizens..That said we still will have to watch but so far, we think we can do it..if there are other less expensive car insurances, we'd love to find it!

That said, thank you for being so encouraging (though I realize the other are not trying to be discouraging--simply helpful by pointing out some very valid points!) We did need to hear what you had to say though, as we'd hate to give this up before we even try. We have no children unfortunaltey but plenty of relatives and friends who'd we'd love to enjoy along with us would could potentially be a life in a place as close to paradise as one can get.

Great to hear from you!
Deb
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Old 02.01.2013, 21:35
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Re: Can I exchange my US driver's license?

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Hi there TheSpouse!

Nice to hear from you. Thank you for the welcome!! (I'm actually Deb from NJ, lol...I think Circ is from Michigan? )
Anyway, thank you--I do realize everyone is trying to be very helpful and open our eyes to some facts which we may have not considered. I will say this..we are not wealthy by any means...we do both have good pensions and savings. We would both be arriving as EU citizens..That said we still will have to watch but so far, we think we can do it..if there are other less expensive car insurances, we'd love to find it!

That said, thank you for being so encouraging (though I realize the other are not trying to be discouraging--simply helpful by pointing out some very valid points!) We did need to hear what you had to say though, as we'd hate to give this up before we even try. We have no children unfortunaltey but plenty of relatives and friends who'd we'd love to enjoy along with us would could potentially be a life in a place as close to paradise as one can get.

Great to hear from you!
Deb
Ah, sorry for sending you off to chilly Michigan, Deb from New Jersey. Switzerland can definitely be done on a fixed income, but it will be difficult. We have found Credit Suisse to be very helpful--try them for banking concerns, although if you are both EU nationals, you will be able to get a bank account anywhere.

Good luck to you. Are you thinking of settling down in the canton of Ticino since you are Italian? If you are, then listen to the poster on this forum named Tom. He seems to be quite the authority down in that neck of the woods.
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Old 02.01.2013, 21:47
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Re: Can I exchange my US driver's license?

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Medea, thank you also for the advice of using the Italian passports for the bank accounts.

Found this on ,"Switerland is Yours" ,website...

Does this sound about right?

Fully comprehensive insurance
Yearly premium ranges from 1,437 to 2,528 Swiss francs, depending on the company. This premium can drop as low as 597 Swiss francs with a maximum bonus. The fully comprehensive insurance deductible is 1,000 Swiss francs
. Yikes!!

Ohhh.,wow. You know..when have fallen so in love with a place for so many years and you think, someday.....and the cold hard facts hit you...ugh. Breaks my heart because this was not something we wanted to do as on a whim. Eh...better to cry now than later I suppose. *sigh*.
Obviously, depends on the model and age, but we're paying about 1,650 a year fully comp for our new diesel Nissan Qashqai (Nissan Rogue to you, but much better equipped than the US version). But, again depending on the car's age and energy rating, there may be an additional road tax; ours was around 450 a year with our old Qashqai.

Petrol is here around 8.60 a gallon (UK gallon, I've no idea how close that is to a US one), i.e. 1.72 a litre x 5 roughly. Mileage per gallon is much better than US though so should help balance the costs. Again, it varies from canton to canton.

Our basic health insurance is just under 1,000 a month for two of us (not quite pension age) so that's 12,000 a year, but if you file a Swiss tax return then you can claim most of your premiums back as it's one of the allowable deductions - there's a yearly set maximum. At least you can here in Fribourg canton, it might be different elsewhere.

Hopefully the Italian passports will help on the banking side, but if you're going to have money being transferred from the US then expect questions when you approach the banks about an account.

Where were you thinking of settling in Switzerland? The major cities are expensive, but a bit further out will get you more for your money.
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Old 02.01.2013, 22:22
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Re: Can I exchange my US driver's license?

Hi again TheSpouse!

Oh no problem--we're freezing here in NJ too. lol

Well, it's encourgaing about the bank accounts because when we first hear do the banking issuse..mamma mia! And that leads me to the next question, yes we will probably be looking into that very area--one reason is that my Italian is much better than my almost non-existant German.
Ohh, will have to seek out Tom then! Good to know as he would be a huge wealth of information.

Thank you for your good wishes!
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Old 02.01.2013, 22:36
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Re: Can I exchange my US driver's license?

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Obviously, depends on the model and age, but we're paying about 1,650 a year fully comp for our new diesel Nissan Qashqai (Nissan Rogue to you, but much better equipped than the US version). But, again depending on the car's age and energy rating, there may be an additional road tax; ours was around 450 a year with our old Qashqai.

Petrol is here around 8.60 a gallon (UK gallon, I've no idea how close that is to a US one), i.e. 1.72 a litre x 5 roughly. Mileage per gallon is much better than US though so should help balance the costs. Again, it varies from canton to canton.

Our basic health insurance is just under 1,000 a month for two of us (not quite pension age) so that's 12,000 a year, but if you file a Swiss tax return then you can claim most of your premiums back as it's one of the allowable deductions - there's a yearly set maximum. At least you can here in Fribourg canton, it might be different elsewhere.

Hopefully the Italian passports will help on the banking side, but if you're going to have money being transferred from the US then expect questions when you approach the banks about an account.

Where were you thinking of settling in Switzerland? The major cities are expensive, but a bit further out will get you more for your money.
Hi Medea,

Wow, thank you for this..very helpful to compare...here's what we are dealing with in Northern NJ right outside on NYC....we're paying close to
$10,000 per year for property taxes..close to $2,000.00 a year for a 7 year old Toyota Carolla in car insurance..actually , we are not too far apart form what you are quoting...I had read a short while ago and I can't think of where now, a quote of around $600.00 US--for health coverage for the two of us. Yours is a lot more, obviously and I was wondering what would cause such a huge gap unless the quote I read was wrong?? We wanted to get away from these high taxes but if the health coverage is going to put us right back up there... but then being able to claim most of the premiums back would be a very very good thing.
We were looking to settle in the Ticino area mostly because of the Italian language...we don't have to be in a city, but would be nice to be near to one..it's the same here..the further from Manhattan, the more you get.

Thanks so much for your very helpful response!!
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Old 02.01.2013, 22:45
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Re: Can I exchange my US driver's license?

It all depends on what kind of car you want. We pay 650 for full coverage on a brand new tiny Citroen, which has great milage and surprising a lot of room to carry stuff.

You can also pay 3K/year (or about 5k for the two of you) for a train pass and go anywhere in Switzerland on all means of transportation. That's a bargain!

Check out the rest of the forum all the questions you could possibly have are answered here. And then go to Comparis.ch. Lots of cost of living questions are answered there, including health insurance. Comparis and Homegate.ch will give you house costs.
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