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Old 01.06.2014, 00:04
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US Driver's License conversion to Swiss

Hi All,

I have searched the threads and have viewed some posts on conversion of a US driver's license to a Swiss one. It seemed like it wasn't too difficult in some cases if it was done within a year. However, someone in Lausanne recently told me I would need to have evidence from the Dept of Motor Vehicle - which issue my driver's license in the US - that I had taken a written exam to pass the test because this fact is not noted on the license (and it is for example in the UK). She advised me to bring this document with me (have no idea what this document is or where I get it)

Does anyone have any info on what I will need to convert my US license to a Swiss one, and what document I would need to provide to prove I took a written driver's exam as well as the driver's test? Or is this even necessary?

Thanks!
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Old 01.06.2014, 00:31
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Re: US Driver's License conversion to Swiss

They will want to know how long you have had a DL. If you can show you had your licence for .. (Can't remember how many years) . Then you will not need to take the tests. So anything that shows you had it for... years. Sorry wish I knew better, a little research here will tell you.. Keep looking. I know it't been discussed several times.
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Old 01.06.2014, 01:05
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Re: US Driver's License conversion to Swiss

The number is 3. If your license does not show that you have had a license for 3 years, then you will need to request a driving history or some other document that makes it clear that you have had a license for at least 3 years. Normally, this is a problem if your last license renewal was in the past 3 years.

There may be some other special requirements, e.g., a first aid course since US licenses don't normally require one. At least, I know that Germany requires that. Searching the forum might give some additional clues, but the only certain answers will come from the local license agency wherever you live in Switzerland.
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Old 01.06.2014, 10:31
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Re: US Driver's License conversion to Swiss

I exchanged a Texas license for a Swiss one with no problems or extra tests.


From what I remember, you go to an opticians and ask for a driving license eye test, they give you a piece of paper when you pass it. Fill in the form for the swiss license, send passport photos and your old license, and the eye test paper, and then about 2 weeks later, you get the Swiss license and your old US license back in the mail.


Then you get a bill later for the conversion.
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Old 01.06.2014, 13:42
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Re: US Driver's License conversion to Swiss

I just did this so I can tell you exactly how it works.

1) Look on your US license and see when it was granted. As others have said, if it's not 3 or more years old, you have to prove you have had a license longer than that or take the tests here. I had just renewed mine about a year and a half ago so before I could do anything here I had to go to the DMV in CO and get a copy of my history. One-page - I can't remember but it cost a very small fee and just showed when my original license was issued. You might be able to do this online if you need it. I had a trip home planned so I did it then.

2) If all of that is good you can go to your Gemeinde house and get the form to complete.

3) You will need a passport photo to attach to the form.

4) Take the form to any optical store - they are everywhere. Show them the form and they know what to do. It costs 20 CHF and takes about 5 minutes. Unless you are color blind I'm sure you will pass it. They fill out part of the form.

5) Take the form back to your Gemeinde and pay a fee - I don't remember how much but I think it was another 20 CHF. They will mail it in for you. At this point you will have to give them your US license.

6) Don't panic - one lady there told me I'd get it back only when I leave Switzerland the other said I'd get it back with a sticker. I got it back the day after my Swiss license arrived by post and it simply has a sticker that says not valid in Switzerland. With another bill of course. Over 100 CHF but I don't remember exact amount.

7) All of this took less than 1 week.

8) Your US license is valid for 1 year of driving here. You have to get a Swiss one before that or you will pay high fines if you are caught driving with it after one year.

Good luck and if you have any other specific questions please PM me - I know this can be stressful as I was freaked out about doing it but it turned out to be VERY VERY VERY easy!
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Old 06.02.2015, 14:12
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Re: US Driver's License conversion to Swiss

Just to add another data point:

Today I exchanged my US driver's license (WA) for a Swiss one. The procedure was very simple; no extra tests were required. To begin, I printed a form titled "Demande de permis d'élève conducteur ou de permis de conduire" from the cantonal website. I had the eye test done this morning at Visiworks, went to the contrôle des habitants in my commune to verify my permit status and address, then proceeded to the DMV (Lausanne).

Since my (current) WA license is < 3 years old, I supplemented it with my previous license (also WA, same DL number, valid from 2009-2013). This seemed to be just fine with the clerk. He made copies of everything then I proceeded downstairs in the same building to pick up the license. Piece of cake.

He did affix a sticker and a couple of stamps on the back of the license stating that it was not valid in Switzerland. As has been mentioned previously, this would be easily removable if you so desired; however, he put it in a blank space on the back of mine, so I don't even think that's necessary.
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Old 07.04.2015, 14:17
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Re: US Driver's License conversion to Swiss

Converting your license even after a year is no problem if you're from the US.

Step 1: Fill out the form below, but only after visiting the city site and using google translate to ensure that the directions haven't changed since this post.

Step 2: Have an optometrist eye check, bringing the form with you. (Walk in appointments are easy and it takes less than 20 minutes, but call ahead if you have a busy schedule.)

Step 3: Acquire two color passport photos and write your name on the back of each one in black ink.

Step 4: Go to your naighborhood Kreisburo with your form, photos, original US driver's lisence and CHF20. They'll process your request.

Step 5: Wait for the license to come in the mail. They'll return your original US license to you with a sticker on it saying it isn't valid here. It remains valid in the US.

Easy-peasy lemon squeezy.


Form: http://www.stva.zh.ch/internet/siche...AUSLUM0909.pdf

Overview: http://zurichexpats.com/how-to-get-y...iving-licence/

Another useful overview: https://www.ch.ch/en/driving-licence/

Yet another great overview: http://www.expat-blog.com/en/guide/e...ransition.html

City site for foreign drivers: http://www.stva.zh.ch/internet/siche...umschreib.html
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Old 13.04.2015, 20:54
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Re: US Driver's License conversion to Swiss

I had a NY license which needs renewal every few years and only the "latest" date is shown on the license, which happened to be within a year of when I went for my Swiss license. All they asked for was my old license to show that I had been driving for more than 3 years. Easy process.
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Old 29.05.2015, 14:49
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Re: US Driver's License conversion to Swiss

One additional point about my experience:

I had my US driver's license (DC) for less than 3 years (I did have other licenses from other countries, but I learned with my permit application that sometimes less is more, so I only sent in the US license). I applied to switch to a Swiss license last month (April 2015)

I initially got a letter asking me to pay 65CHF so that they could do additional research, which I paid. Two weeks later I got my Swiss license (with another bill for 75CHF for the license itself). I also got back my US license with the little sticker saying not valid in CH.

This was in Basel Landschaft, so it may differ in other cantons. I had been told by an official from Basel Stadt that I would need to do a control drive, but this was not the case.
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Old 29.05.2015, 15:17
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Re: US Driver's License conversion to Swiss

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I had my US driver's license (DC) for less than 3 years
[...]
Two weeks later I got my Swiss license
The main question is now: What is printed under Item 11. (expiration date) a lot of ******* or a date?
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Old 29.05.2015, 15:18
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Re: US Driver's License conversion to Swiss

For me (see post above), just asterisks (*****) are printed. Is this indicative of no expiration date?
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Old 29.05.2015, 15:30
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Re: US Driver's License conversion to Swiss

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Is this indicative of no expiration date?
Yes. It means a full, non-provisional license, valid till hell freezes over.
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Old 29.05.2015, 19:24
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Re: US Driver's License conversion to Swiss

Lucky for me, I also got ******** under 11. So, to infinity and beyond (until I die).
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