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Old 30.03.2012, 00:11
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Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

Hi,

I thought it would be useful to share my experience during my driving test in Zurich to convert my license onto a swiss one.

I was given my driving license 8 years ago, without taking a practical driving test(!) and didn't drive much as I didn't have a car. Soon after, I moved abroad and had never driven again since. So basically I was almost a beginner driver when I came to Switzerland last year.

I decided to give it a try to the conversion, and took 10 lessons (45 min each) last September with an German/English/Spanish speaking instructor. My driving test had been scheduled for October, but my instructor was not very happy with my way of driving. Since I still had a valid license (1 year) I decided to postpone the test and practice more on my own. There was not problem at all in postponing the test, you just simply tell them and they give you a new appointment for when you are available/ready.

I joined the Mobility car-sharing scheme and practiced as much as I could. Even until yesterday I was still practicing, especially in the city center, and all the areas around the Strassenverkehrsamt Zürich and was very conscious of my driving mistakes. I went to the test today with a Mobility car not expecting neither to pass nor to fail. I made sure that a friend who also has a Mobility subscription could help me to return the car in the eventuality of failing the test.

My examiner was very kind, spoke German, Portuguese, Italian but not English, so we tried to understand each other in Portuguese (my native language being Spanish), and it worked perfectly well. The only 2 directions he wanted me to understand were "right" and "left". I had studied all possible ways to give directions in German, crossing, traffic light, roundabout, change lane, etc, but he said that was not necessary.

The test took 30 minutes, (some tests take 45 min) and I was not taken to the city center but more nearby the Strassenverkehrsamt. I know I was not perfect during the test, I had a minor delay in deciding to cross one of the main roads (with trams and all sort of traffic around), and also put the indicator light in the last minute in one of the turns (luckily there was a traffic light in red). There were lots of construction works around, kids and elderly people crossing zebras and train/tram crossings, but all went well. I was not tested for parking or asked to drive in a highway. I passed the test and they'll send me a license in 3 days by post.

My advice if you want to convert your license and have to take the Kontrollfahrt (driving test):

1. Take many lessons if you are not an experienced driver. If you are an experienced driver or think that you are (!), take at least 2 or 3 lessons and get all the advice and information possible from your instructor. I know it's expensive but it's worth it, and let's be honest if you earn a salary in Switzerland, you can afford it. Besides they can lend you the car for the test.

2. Practice around the areas near the Strassenverkehrsamt, around all directions going and coming back in 30-45 min.

3. Although you do not need to take a theory test, buy or borrow a manual with the Traffic Regulations. I read "Driving today" and although you may already know most of the rules, it's a good refresher and it's specific to Switzerland e.g. tram crossings, trolley buses which you may not have in your country. You get this or other manuals in English from Orell Fussli.

4. If you still are not confident with starting up-hill in a manual car, or suffer changing gears, then drive an automatic car. Even if your license is for manual, you are allowed to drive the test in automatic, as long as there's a handbrake for the examiner to stop you in case of emergency.

5. Familiarize yourself with the car well in advance, if possible take the driving test in the same car you took lessons or the one you rented or borrowed to practice around.

Good luck and if you have any questions get in touch
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  #2  
Old 30.03.2012, 10:23
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

Hi,
I have a question then: you have to take the exam because the driving licence expires after 10 years?
The first time around they gave you the Swiss licence without taking any exam, is this correct?
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Old 02.04.2012, 23:38
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

Hi Titian,

I got my first driving license from my home country, Colombia, 8 years ago not here in Switzerland!!

If you come from another country (from their list of non-approved driving licenses) you always have to take a driving test.

I think the only exceptions are if you already have an European or American or Canadian driving license, then you don't need to take a driving test to change to a Swiss one.
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Old 30.04.2012, 21:29
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

Hi there and big well done!
I m in slightly similar situation and i'd love to find out more. As i m freaking out
About the controllfhart.
Please could you provide more info to me?

-did you only take 10 lessons with the instructor?
-how long and how often did you practiced with rental car?
-why did you decide to take the test in zurich with lots of trams and trafic rather than places like winterthour or hinwil?

Thanx in advance for the info
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Old 01.05.2012, 17:11
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

Hi Fezza,

I took 10 lessons, but that depends on each individual, maybe you want to book 5-10 lessons first and discuss with the driving instructor, or judge yourself if you need more.

After I stopped the lessons I practiced in short weekend trips. But I actually practiced more seriously during the 2 weeks just before the exam. I drove almost everyday 1 hour, during traffic time (6pm), for 2 weeks. I always practiced on the same car I took to the exam.

I took the exam in Zurich because this is where I live and also because that I thought I would have a better chance of having an English speaking examiner (which didn't happen!). I have no idea if it would have been easier in another city/village. Maybe there are some posts about it in the Forum.

Hope this helps and good luck!
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Old 01.06.2012, 18:40
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

Dear natcam,

thank you for sharing this experience with us.
I have the same test next week I'm really nervous about it
I'm driving for 9 years but it is really difficult to drive again by the "school rules".
I took some lessons and I practice every day but I'm always thinking that isn't enough.

Anyway, I just want to thank you for this post, it's helpful

Regards
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Old 01.06.2012, 21:35
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

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Dear natcam,

thank you for sharing this experience with us.
I have the same test next week I'm really nervous about it
I'm driving for 9 years but it is really difficult to drive again by the "school rules".
I took some lessons and I practice every day but I'm always thinking that isn't enough.

Anyway, I just want to thank you for this post, it's helpful

Regards
I had the same test drive this week. No problem at all. Very friendly guy, 30 min of easy exercise and 15 min after you will have the local license.

Be relaxed, do not worry and Good luck.
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Old 02.06.2012, 22:03
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

Dear TimTim,

thank you

It's good to know that people have some good experience in the test drive.

I hope it will be for me as well
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Old 03.06.2012, 12:23
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

Anamarija, it's ok to be a bit nervous, but if you have practiced and have been driving for so long you'll be fine!

Just keep your eyes wide open during the test, and if possible chat a bit to the examiner, that may help you to relax during the test and to show confidence too.

Good luck!!
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Old 07.06.2012, 21:34
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

I passed the test today Jeeeeeeeee
I had an expert who was really quiet and official. Although I told him that I don't speak german he was giving me directions only in german and not only "left" and "right" but he use whole sentences and this made me so confused .
Anyway, I didn't had any mistakes except in the Albisriedenplatz where I didn't understood where I suppose to go. Fortunately, there wasn't many cars so I managed to correct my self in time.
During the test he was seating next to me with his hands crossed and most of the time he was looking trough the window.
I can't tell you that he was friendly but he was fair and that's very important.
Of course, I was nervous but I kept my eyes wide open
Afterwords, they told me that I will receive the driving license by post.

Thank you all for wishing me good luck!


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Old 08.06.2012, 14:23
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

Congratulations!
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Old 08.06.2012, 22:24
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

Well done!!
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Old 08.06.2012, 23:03
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

I also recently did the Kontrolfahrt... I was extremely nervous . I have been driving 25 years and it was very nerve-wracking to have to take the test again and be watched at close range.

I didn`t know that I had to swap my British driver`s license within 12 months of being here in order to avoid the test. We don`t have a car, so I didn`t think about it. But then when I decided to join Mobility, they told me I needed the license and then I found out about the control...

I took 5 lessons but was prepared to take more if necessary. I made sure the instructor could speak English before I booked him. I had to pay an additional Fr140 for insurance PLUS another Fr80 for using his car in the test.

I was lucky. The examiner could speak English and was quite kind, telling me I looked very nervous but to just relax. He took me right through the city of Zurich where I had actually not driven before with my instructor! What he told me is "I`m not testing you to see if you can drive or park the car, but that you understand our culture of the road here, how to deal with trams and buses and that you can drive on this side of the road"! He was chatting a lot. I almost wanted to tell him to settle down so I could concentrate

But it was fine...I passed the test.

If I had my time again I would be more relaxed. Your driving instructor is very useful in telling you whether they think you need more lessons or not and of course you have to trust your own feelings.
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Old 11.06.2012, 02:21
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

For anyone who just needs to do the control test like I did, there is currently a great deal on Groupon which is similar to the deal I got. It cuts the cost of taking the control test by a fortune:

http://www.groupon.ch/deals/zurich-s...0_0_163&a=1765

Good luck and happy travels
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Old 11.06.2012, 08:44
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

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What he told me is "I`m not testing you to see if you can drive or park the car, but that you understand our culture of the road here, how to deal with trams and buses and that you can drive on this side of the road"!
That's basically what all examiners want to see if you have driven before and if are out of your early twens …

Congratulations!
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Old 13.10.2012, 00:10
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

Natcam, thanks a lot, great advice, thank you for spending time to put togethre your experience and recommendations.
Great comments too! Thanks everybody, this is useful.
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Old 03.11.2012, 01:02
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

I passed my Kontollfahrt successfully this week and I could not agree more with the advises from the OP.

I would like to add that I found very helpful a quick briefing from the instructor 5 min before the exam on the most important mistakes which other people make or which I made earlier. For example, my instructor reminded me of switching off the engine at the railroad crossing and I had this situation during my exam. Who knows if I remembered about it myself, considering that we always passed on the green light during the last few lessons.

I also want to mention that even if you explore all the areas around the Strassenverkehrsamt it does not guarantee that you will follow the well known roads during the exam. I took 13 lessons and seemed to have learned every little street in that district, but during the exam we went on the highway through Uetliberg tunnel and further in that directon and then returned to Zurich following the alternative roads. In fact, for me it was the best option, as I wasn't very good in crossing the wide roads with tram lines from the secondary roads. So I was lucky not to have to cross the tram lines at all during the exam. In fact, I even didn't have to turn many times. All I had to do is to follow the highway with a limit 100 everywhere and then follow the main roads with the speed limit 60, sometimes 80, and that's all. Easy, isn't it?

Good luck in your exam to everyone who still has to pass it! Make sure you cope with your nerves from the very beginning of the exam. By the moment I left the Strassenverkehrsamt parking my hands were weak to hold the steering wheel and were shaking so much that I could feel the car zigzagging a little beat on the road. But then I said to myself that I need to calm down or my exam would end in one minute. It made me calm down and I drove very confidently during the remaining time of the exam.
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Old 03.11.2012, 01:09
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Re: Driving License Conversion and driving test Zurich

Sorry if it was already discussed on this forum, but what does the letter F in italic mean in the field 9 of the Swiss driving licence? I have "B F" in this field.

Thanks!
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