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Old 13.08.2016, 00:01
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Driver's License Conversion

Hope somebody can help me. My wife, baby son and I relocated to Houston, Texas from South Africa about 5 months ago. My employer recently approached me with an opportunity in Switzerland (which as you can imagine is quite daunting since we just wrapped up the last administrative things that needed to be resolved in the US as a result of the move).

I have held a South African driver's license for the past 12 years. In addition, on our relocation to Houston we were required to take the Texas driver's test which we passed and the licenses issued about a month ago. Accordingly, I have both a South African and a Texas driver's license in my possession. If I accept the offer, I will be based in Zug within the next 3 to 4 months.

From reading other threads, I am lead to understand that a US driver's license can be exchanged for a Swiss license without having to take the driver's test but only if one has held the same for more than three years. Clearly that is not the case in my instance, although technically I have been driving for far longer than the required three year period, taking into account my South African license.

Essentially my question is would the authorities issue us with Swiss licenses in exchange for our US licenses if we can prove our South African licenses were issued more than 3 years ago?

I have read a number of threads related to the driver license conversion process, but have not seen any specifically addressing a situation like this (although I may of course missed it). Any advice/guidance would be gladly appreciated.
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Old 13.08.2016, 00:11
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Re: Driver's License Conversion

It seems your South African license is still valid if you did a new license for US and not a conversion. Why not convert the South African one for a Swiss one?
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Old 13.08.2016, 01:32
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Re: Driver's License Conversion

Perhaps I should articulate the question a little better: converting my SA license will still require us to take the driver's test, whilst converting the US license (subject to the same having been issued more than three years ago) are exempt from this requirement.

What I was hoping is that the authorities would see the licenses in conjunction with one another and be prepared to convert the Texas license to a Swiss license on the basis that the South African licenses prove we have more than three years' driving experience and are not "driving novices".

Having just gone through the process of obtaining a Texas license, I would prefer to avoid having to go through another driver's test etc. in Switzerland. I also understand that the Swiss driver control test is rather arduous and time consuming to prepare for.

Hope that gives a little more colour and clarification. Thanks in advance for any thoughts/suggestions.
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Old 13.08.2016, 01:40
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Re: Driver's License Conversion

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Perhaps I should articulate the question a little better: converting my SA license will still require us to take the driver's test, whilst converting the US license (subject to the same having been issued more than three years ago) are exempt from this requirement.

What I was hoping is that the authorities would see the licenses in conjunction with one another and be prepared to convert the Texas license to a Swiss license on the basis that the South African licenses prove we have more than three years' driving experience and are not "driving novices".

Having just gone through the process of obtaining a Texas license, I would prefer to avoid having to go through another driver's test etc. in Switzerland. I also understand that the Swiss driver control test is rather arduous and time consuming to prepare for.

Hope that gives a little more colour and clarification. Thanks in advance for any thoughts/suggestions.
Pommie,

I looked for an indication that SA would be a mere formality, but it appears it isn't. You might get lucky and the clerk you end up dealing with cuts you some slack... perhaps.

I would probably pretend I hadn't read up on it, and when they ask for your existing license ask "Which one, the SA one I've had since forever, or my recent US one?"
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Old 13.08.2016, 01:58
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Re: Driver's License Conversion

Why don't you write an email to the drivers section of the DMV of your future canton, they usually answer to inquiries. You can also discuss it with them in loco before actually deciding which license to give them (or give them both and hope for the best, you will get them back anyway so...). For a thing like this it's the head of service that will decide since it's an exception.
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Old 13.08.2016, 10:10
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Re: Driver's License Conversion

Whatever happens, it would be a good idea to get a book on the Swiss road signs, and study it. Many drivers don't and then don't appreciate what the large radius, curved white lines in the road mean.
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Old 15.08.2016, 20:31
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Re: Driver's License Conversion

Many thanks for these replies. Very useful.
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Old 15.09.2016, 00:30
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Re: Driver's License Conversion

Instead of writing e-mails I recommend you to go directly to the Strassenverkehrsamt and discuss with them in person. People I discussed with so far in the ZH office were all nice and helpful, and there is a separate counter for 'exceptional cases'.
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Old 15.09.2016, 07:08
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Re: Driver's License Conversion

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Instead of writing e-mails I recommend you to go directly to the Strassenverkehrsamt and discuss with them in person. People I discussed with so far in the ZH office were all nice and helpful, and there is a separate counter for 'exceptional cases'.
I agree with pampalini. In person is best. Had to go there myself last week to swap my UK license in for a Swiss one and the Zurich staff were very helpful - and spoke perfect English too.

However, OP hasn't yet moved to CH so it might be a bit of a trek for him just for that ;-)


Regards


Ian
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Old 05.10.2016, 20:46
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Re: Driver's License Conversion

By way of update, and in case this topic may be of interest to other readers, I took the opportunity to visit the Strassenverkehrsamt in Zug today to ask this question (the family and I have been in CH for the week scoping out areas and to get a better grasp on the rental market). Apparently, pairing both our Texas and South African licenses will be accepted for a straight conversion as this proves we are not novice drivers. Thanks for everybody's most useful inputs.
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