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  #1  
Old 16.02.2010, 18:29
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Converting your driver license

PAY $$$$$, PAY $$$$$$ and PAY $$$$$ some more = Switzerland.
Converting your driver license can be costly. $$$$$$
As I am from South Africa, I have to go and physically take a drivers test. I made this booking in November and the earliest date they could give me was 3 Feb. I was told to take a few drivers lessons as things are different here … yes you drive on the wrong side of the road and speak every language but English at any government department. After trying several driving schools with no success … German or French only, I decided that I do not “need” a Swiss license as my husband (EU) can drive me or I use the public transport. I telephoned the Strassenverkersamt office … no English, so I get one of my colleagues to cancel my appointment and let them know that I do not want to convert my SA license anymore. I “presume” everything is sorted. A week later I get a pink slip for CHF 134! So, I have no Swiss license and have paid up CFH 105 (eye test) + CHF 134 (to cancel my appointment, which just happens to be the same price as the test) … total CHF 239 for squat.
Needless to say that when we applied for our number plates, our car paper (we lived in the UK and bought our car with us to Switzerland), have been sent back to the UK … why?? Now we want to sell the car back in the UK, and we need our UK papers, as we only have temporary plates. To take it to the UK it would be easier to have the UK registration papers and plates. The UK plates we can collect in 2 days but we have no papers now. Can anyone advise us? Or do we have to pay some more?
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Old 16.02.2010, 18:38
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Re: Converting your driver license

When you got your swiss plates etc your UK car became a Swiss car.

When I did it, they just held the UK docs for 2weeks and then destroyed them. I was informed that it was up to me to notify the DVLA in the UK that the car was export out of the UK.

I suppose you'd best give the DVLA a call and see what they say. Im assuming you'd have to go through the UK procedure of re-importing the car back to blighty.
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Old 16.02.2010, 19:13
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Re: Converting your driver license

I converted my driving license for free. My eye test was free cause I got my glasses at the same place. However, they spelled my name wrong. Maybe if I'd slipped em somthing?
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Old 16.02.2010, 21:42
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Re: Converting your driver license

I feel for you as I have made similar background check and soon realized that I don't wanna convert my SA licence anymore. I don't want to part with my ID document which is very handy everywhere in SA and subject to renewal every 5 years, which takes long queue and it's time consuming process. Since I go visit to SA every year I need my licence there. I use public transport in Switzerland and I don't think anything is gonna convince me to pay extra money for car and parking plus petrol. This country already runs smoothly enough without need for another CO2 emmiting vehicle.

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Old 16.02.2010, 22:07
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Re: Converting your driver license

We converted our SA licences and it was pretty painless. Yes we each took 1 lesson, so "see" what is different, did the test and pronto, Swiss licences.

Also they didn't take our licences away just place a red sticker cross which says not valid in Switzerland. We peeled these off as soon as we left the testing center. To be honest we now even use our Swiss licences in SA cause the police just let you off if they stop you.

Cheers
Nats
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Old 16.02.2010, 22:47
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Re: Converting your driver license

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PAY $$$$$, PAY $$$$$$ and PAY $$$$$ some more = Switzerland.
Converting your driver license can be costly. $$$$$$
As I am from South Africa, I have to go and physically take a drivers test. I made this booking in November and the earliest date they could give me was 3 Feb. I was told to take a few drivers lessons as things are different here … yes you drive on the wrong side of the road and speak every language but English at any government department. After trying several driving schools with no success … German or French only, I decided that I do not “need” a Swiss license as my husband (EU) can drive me or I use the public transport. I telephoned the Strassenverkersamt office … no English, so I get one of my colleagues to cancel my appointment and let them know that I do not want to convert my SA license anymore. I “presume” everything is sorted. A week later I get a pink slip for CHF 134! So, I have no Swiss license and have paid up CFH 105 (eye test) + CHF 134 (to cancel my appointment, which just happens to be the same price as the test) … total CHF 239 for squat.
Needless to say that when we applied for our number plates, our car paper (we lived in the UK and bought our car with us to Switzerland), have been sent back to the UK … why?? Now we want to sell the car back in the UK, and we need our UK papers, as we only have temporary plates. To take it to the UK it would be easier to have the UK registration papers and plates. The UK plates we can collect in 2 days but we have no papers now. Can anyone advise us? Or do we have to pay some more?
It could be argued the authorities made the effort to help you and you backed out, hence the bill. You really can't expect everyone to speak your language. You can't fight the fact that some rules apply to some people and others to people from other countries. You change your mind a lot and then expect it all to disappear and seem angry to deal with it when it doesn't.

Such is being a stranger in a strange land. Best bet is to approach the relevent office in person and smile nicely. Bring all papers in your possession and if necessary draw diagrams explaining your position. They're usually very obliging down there and sooner or later an English speaking person will come to the window and help you.

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Old 16.02.2010, 22:58
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Re: Converting your driver license

Hi all,

Does anyone know if the converting of your licence is easier if you have a intenational temporary licence than it is to do it from scratch with only your SA licence?

Can you get an international licence from this side or can it only be done from SA?

Thank you!
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  #8  
Old 17.02.2010, 09:18
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Re: Converting your driver license

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My eye test was free
So was mine though that was a while ago now. It took all of five minutes and I walked into the opticians without an appointment. I know a few people who've converted recently and none of them had to pay.
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Old 21.02.2010, 01:27
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Re: Converting your driver license

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Such is being a stranger in a strange land. Best bet is to approach the relevent office in person and smile nicely. Bring all papers in your possession and if necessary draw diagrams explaining your position. They're usually very obliging down there and sooner or later an English speaking person will come to the window and help you.

All is not lost. Breathe!

it's very true. making phone call normally doesn't help your situation, if not making worse. In case you could only do it through phone, my experience is (I'm in the part of French speaking area) speaking a little of french, even just 1-2 sentence. People on the other side could tell you do your very best and somehow your call would be transferred to someone who speak English. Otherwise, they would just keep on talking French and not showing any gasture of helping on the phone. I'd say visit the place in person will give you even higher chance of talking to someone in English.
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Old 21.02.2010, 01:32
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Re: Converting your driver license

It was the same for me converting a US drivers license...and I was actually 6 months late. No problem. Took 5 minutes and I received my new license two days later.

fduvall

PS - Alos got the paperwork from the optician in no time and at no extra cost when I bought glasses

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So was mine though that was a while ago now. It took all of five minutes and I walked into the opticians without an appointment. I know a few people who've converted recently and none of them had to pay.
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Old 21.02.2010, 01:39
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Re: Converting your driver license

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PAY $$$$$, PAY $$$$$$ and PAY $$$$$ some more = Switzerland.
After trying several driving schools with no success … German or French only, and have paid up CFH 105 (eye test) + CHF 134 (to cancel my appointment, which just happens to be the same price as the test) … total CHF 239 for squat.
That's really weird!!
Eye test costs not more than CHF 20!!! However my instructor warned me that in some shops (that's where you should do it) when they understand u re a foreigner they try to charge u more.
Plus, there are schools with instructors who speak very good English..not much maybe, but there are for sure.
My instructor is a very nice guy from Spain, he charges CHF 90/hour, but all of my friends who ve been to his school passed the exam succesfully.
And as u re about to drive in Switzerland, they indeed suppose u speak just a bit of German)
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Old 24.02.2010, 12:06
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Re: Converting your driver license

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Hi all,

Does anyone know if the converting of your licence is easier if you have a intenational temporary licence than it is to do it from scratch with only your SA licence?

Can you get an international licence from this side or can it only be done from SA?

Thank you!
You cannot convert an international driving licence. An international driving licence is only valid if you are not a resident of the country you are driving the car in. Therefore if you are resident in Switzerland, you cannot drive on an international driving licence here.

For your first year you may use the driving licence of your previous country of residence but this must be either exchanged for a Swiss licence within that period or you have to sit a driving test ( depending upon, again, which country your original licence is from ).

When I coverted my ( admittedly UK ) licence to a Swiss licence, I found the whole thing pretty painless. The optician did the test for free ( he said it was a welcome to Switzerland present! ) and the people at the Driving Licence Agency spoke excellent English. Twenty minutes after arriving I had my licence and they took my original UK one.

Unfortunately the bill for about 70 CHF arrived in the post a couple of weeks later...
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Old 24.02.2010, 12:36
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Re: Converting your driver license

Does one have to have an eye exam here? My sister is my optometrist (in the States)... does the report have to be in German?
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Old 24.02.2010, 12:41
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Re: Converting your driver license

Did you not convert your SA licence to a UK one while in the UK? Because then your exchange would have been no problem.

Eye test for the licence should be somewhere between 20 francs and free.

And they rightly sent the papers for the car back to the UK. You exported the car from the UK and imported it into Switzerland. In theory, importing back to the UK should be easy.....but it's not a case of just slapping plates on.

It's not their fault. I feel that you did not research the car issue correctly and you've rushed into the licence thing without research. Plus you've also failed to convert your licence once already to a UK licence.
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Old 24.02.2010, 12:51
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Re: Converting your driver license

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my experience is (I'm in the part of French speaking area) speaking a little of french, even just 1-2 sentence. People on the other side could tell you do your very best and somehow your call would be transferred to someone who speak English. Otherwise, they would just keep on talking French and not showing any gasture of helping on the phone.
This is very true - hubby has French comparable to a 2 yr old, but always prepares a few key sentences and any special vocab, and is always met with goodwill. He phones for appointments, takes the car in to be serviced, talks to the garage mechanics, etc, all in French and gesture, and people go out of their way to help him.

One of our friends, however, relies on 'Do you speak English?' *blank look* 'Innn-gliiiish? Parl on-glay? Anyone?' His experience of Swiss people is 100% that they are surly and deliberately unhelpful.

Truly, just making a small effort gets a huge payback. And the almost magical appearance of a fluent English speaker if necessary.

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Old 24.02.2010, 13:08
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Re: Converting your driver license

i am in the process of converting my south african drivers licence.
the eye test cost me 15 SFR and the lady at the license place was very friendly and helpfull and marked down that i needed my south african liscence back for when i visit home. this was on monday so i am going to see what happens next though she did not see any problems. compared to south african liscencing department i think whatever they charge is worth it here for the effenciency.

besides i have been served in the south african lisence dept by people who did not speak much english either!!!!
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