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Old 20.03.2017, 00:18
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[Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

Time to retire the other thread (https://www.englishforum.ch/transpor...questions.html) and start a new one which is more up to date and has most information in the first post.

Much confusion arises about driving license conversion. Who has to do it, when you have to do it, and how you have to do it. So, here a comprehensive overview of the law, the time line and the process.

Note: This guide is mostly intended for private drivers driving cars and motorcycles. If you intend to drive a commercial vehicles such as taxis, ambulances, trucks, school bus, etc. please check with your employer about license conversion and other conditions (Theory exam, CZV course , medical exam, driving test etc.) before you drive. {Art. 42 Abs. 3bis Lit. b VZV}

If all this information, the FAQ, and the posts of others did not answer your questions or you think your situation is special, please feel free to contribute right here in this very thread. Even and also if the last post was made months ago. If you open your own thread be not surprised if a moderator moves it to here so that all is collected at one place.

About The structure of this post.
  • First, I will explain who has to exchange his foreign license into a Swiss on.
  • Second, I will explain what may happen if you do not exchange your license.
  • Third, I will describe the process how to convert a foreign driving license into a Swiss. It is rather simple and less complicated than expected.
  • Fourth there will be a FAQ which I intend to update over time with questions asked. Please read at least this part before you asked your own questions.
  • Fifth, I will give a rather long overview of the relevant Swiss law, international agreements, and various guidelines.
    If you are fluent in German and French as well, all answers to your questions can be found in this documents and links.
    You may skip over this part and jump directly to the next topic. If you encounter any {} you will find the exact definition and location in this part of the post.
  • Finally, I will provide my translation of the most relevant parts of the Road Traffic Licensing Ordinance as it does not exist in English so far. Please note, this is my own translation which may be legally incorrect. If in doubt always check the German/French/Italian original.

Part One.

Who has to exchange its foreign license into a Swiss one?
  • Anyone who operates a Swiss registered commercial vehicle. {Art. 42 Abs. 3bis Lit. b VZV}
  • Anyone who resides for at least 12 Months in Switzerland, and who was not been aboard for at least 3 month uninterrupted, and who wants to drive a motor vehicle in Switzerland. {Art. 42 Abs. 3bis Lit. a VZV}
  • Exception, if you have a valid foreign license, a legitimation card from the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs, which grants immunity, and you are not a Swiss citizen {Art. 42 Abs. 3ter VZV}


Part Two.

What happens if you do not exchange your license in time?
  • Your foreign license is no longer valid for driving in Switzerland.
  • No consequences if you do not drive in Switzerland. Absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero consequences. There is absolutely no law which mandates a conversion.
  • If you do drive aboard you have to check the law of the foreign country if your license is still valid. Some country mandates that your driving license is valid in your country of residence.

Note: You can exchange your valid foreign driving license w/o an issues up to five years since you became a resident in Switzerland. After five years you must show that you have regularly driven a car aboard. {asa guidline 1, Section 351}

What happens if you drive with a non-valid driving license in Switzerland?
  • That’s very bad. There are several laws, and the possible consequences may cost you a lot of your hard-earned Swiss Francs.
  • In the best case, you are told off by the police officer and reminded that you should no longer drive and exchange your license ASAP for a Swiss one.
  • In the worst case you get a huge monetary fine for driving with non-valid license {Art. 95 Abs. 1 Lit a SVG} Note: The law allows up to three years of jail time, this is very unlikely but possible in severe cases.
  • Additionally, to that or alone for itself, you may get ban of at least 6 months in which you cannot get any Swiss driving license. {Art. 15e SVG} Such a ban comes with administrative fees in the range of CHF 300.
  • Not enough, if it was not your own car the owner may also get a monetary fine or up to three years of jail time if the owner knew or may have known by due care that you the driver had not a valid license. {Art. 95 Abs. 1 Lit. e SVG}


Can I exchange ANY license into a Swiss license?
To exchange a foreign license the following must be the fulfilled
  • It must be valid and issued by a real country or state authority.
  • Unless special circumstances, it must not been issued aboard while you were a Swiss resident.
  • For some issuing countries you may have to do a so called "test drive". See Part 4 for more details.


Part Three.

Here comes the action part. How to convert a foreign driving license into a Swiss one.

Step one: Find your still valid foreign driving license.

Step two: Make photo copies of your foreign license!
Photo copies are very useful if your license gets stolen or it somehow gets lost during the process.

Step three: Check the issue date of the license. Is it at least one year before you established residence in Switzerland? Everything is O.K. Goto Step 4.

Step three B: If the stated issue date is less than twelve month before you entered Switzerland and you did your driving test more than twelve month ago contact your foreign driving license authority and get a statement when you did your driving test or for how long you had your license. If you acquired your foreign driving license less than one year before you became a Swiss resident you can still proceed but read carefully all of step eleven at the end.

Step three C: If your license has an issue date while your were already a Swiss resident you may not convert it into a Swiss license! Unless, you can show and proof that you were during the time you acquired or after you acquired that license at least 3 months a proper resident in the country you acquired the license. {Art. 45 Abs. 5 VZV}

Step four: Get a nice photo. Some authorities allow you to smile. But to save trouble and cost best follow these guidelines, the photo must be on photo paper. https://www.schweizerpass.admin.ch/d...ustertafel.pdf

Step five: Download and print the application Form. It can be found on the website of your local SAN/StVA. See in link section.

Here as an example the form for canton Zurich: http://www.stva.zh.ch/internet/siche...AUSL201607.pdf

Basel Stadt:
http://www.polizei.bs.ch/dam/jcr:db3...25.11.2016.pdf

Basel Land:
https://www.baselland.ch/politik-und...sl_ausweis.pdf

Step six: Read the form and fill in the relevant details. Do not forget to tick all the boxes of the license categories you wish to convert.

Step eight: Take the form and go to an approved optometrist for a simple sight and hearing test. Cost CHF 15 - 20.

Step nine: Take the form with the photo, your permit, ID or passport, and your foreign driving license and go to your local StVA/SAN, communal office, Police station etc. (check application form where it can be handed in. This may be different from one canton to the next). Depending on canton (Basel Land for ex.) you may have to pay an initial processing fee (bill may come by post or has to be paid on spot).

Step ten A: If you have valid driving license from a “happy state” you will get your shiny new Swiss driving license plus a bill in a few days, normally maximum a week. Until you get your Swiss license you are not allowed to drive aboard (as they have your foreign driving license). So, time your exchange accordingly if you have to.

The “happy countries” are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea (Republic), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Tunisia, USA.

This list can be found in the {FEDRO circular license exchange}

If your license is from an EU or EEA country, it will be sent back to the issuing state. Otherwise you will get it back with a removable sticker that it is no longer valid in Switzerland or you may also request that the license is destroyed/invalidated (holes punched into it).

Please goto step eleven.

Step ten B: If you have a valid driving license but not from one of the happy states you will not get a Swiss driving license right away. You must the a “test drive” (German Kontrolfahrt) first. In this test drive, they will check if you know the Swiss traffic rules and can safely manoeuver on the street. It is a driving exam light.

Be aware, you have only only try. If you botch it you will not get a Swiss driving license and you are no longer allowed to drive on any Swiss road. To get a Swiss driving license you have to start from zero as a beginner driver. This means first aid course, theory exam, basic road awareness course, practical exam etc.

If you pass the test drive you will get your shiny new Swiss driving license plus a bill in a few days, normally maximum a week.. You will get your foreign license back with a removable sticker that it is no longer valid in Switzerland or you may also request that the license is destroyed/invalidated (holes punched into it).
Details on the test drive can be found in the {asa guideline 19}.

Step elven: Enjoy the roads and drive safely. If had your foreign driving license for less than twelve months before you moved to Switzerland your driving license will be a provisional ones. This means your license has an expiration date. Until the expiration date you must attend two safety/economic driving courses {2-Phase website}, cannot have a BAC of more than 0.01%, and must exchange it into an unlimited one at the end of the probation period.

Step twelve: Pay the bill. Nothing is free and specially not in Switzerland. Depending on the canton, if you had to do a Kontrollfahrt you will get a bill in the range of CHF 100 up to 400.
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

Part Four, The FAQ.

In this part I will collect the answers to frequently asked questions. Such that you do not have to read through all subsequent posts.

Q: What means FAQ?
A: Frequently Asked Question.

Q: What means FAK?
A: Swiss driving license in credit card format. See {2003 FEDRO circular swiss driving license}

Q: What means StVA and SAN.
A: Strassenverkehrsamt and Service Auto et de la navigation. It is what is known in the US as DMV and in the UK as DVLA. The difference? The waiting time is shorter than in the DMV.
You can find your local one here : http://www.strassenverkehrsamt.ch/index.html

Q: What about all the text in {curly braces}
A: Please see Part Five of this post.

Q: Do I have to convert my license?
A: Please read part One of this post.

Q: What are the time limits?
A: Please read part Two of this post.

Q: What are step by step procedures?
A: Please read part Three of this post.

Q: Where can I find the legal background?
A: Please read part Five of this post?

Q: Is there an English translation of the Road Traffic Licensing Ordinance?
A: I translated the most relevant part in part Six of this post.

Q: The translation is wrong, incorrect, and non-proper English.
A: Sorry. Please drop a line and I will correct it.

Q: Where can I find the FAQ?
A: You are already there.

Q: What means WAB, WAB1 and WAB2?
A: This are the mandatory driving courses you have to do when you have a provisional license. See {2-Phase website} for providers. See also step eleven of part 3.

Q: What means CZV?
A: Chauffeurzulassungsverordnung. It is the ordinance which regulates driving commercial vehicles.

Q: What is OCAP?
A: The French name for CZV. See above.

Q: What are commercial vehicles?
A: Vehicles such as taxis, ambulance, school bus and mini buses (more than 9 seats + driver), trucks (more than 3.5 tons) etc.

Q: How do I know I was issued a provisional license?
A: It has an expiration date on item 4b on the license. {2003 FEDRO circular swiss driving license}

Q: How do I know I was issued a non-provisional license?
A: It is valid forever and thus has stars ******** at item 4b on the license. {2003 FEDRO circular swiss driving license}

Q: Is it true Swiss driving license are valid forever?
A: Yes, it is true. {Art. 15c SVG}

Q: But what about the photo? What if I use it as an ID and the photo is 20 years old?
A: The Swiss driving license is just a driving license and not any kind of formal ID.

Q: Is there any fine for converting late?
A: No, as long as you do not drive any motor vehicles in Switzerland you are perfectly fine ;-).

Q: Is there any special procedure for converting after X years of residence in Switzerland?
A: Yes, after 5 years you may do a test drive even when you are from one of the exempt countries.

Q: How did they came up with list of countries that have to do a test drive and which are exempt?
For ex. countries with very dissimilar rules are on the list (USA) whereas South Africa with very similar rules and signs is absent.
A: I do not know. Politics?

Q: I am from the U.S. where can I get my driving record to show that I had a driving license for more than one year?
A: For California the form to request your drivers record from the CA DMV is INF 1125 and is available here. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1...ms/inf/inf1125

Q: I have never ever driven a stick shift. I heard if you did the Swiss driving license test with an automatic car you are only allowed to drive automatic. Will this also apply to me?
A: If your current license has no such restriction your Swiss license will have neither. You can even do the Kontrollfahrt with an automatic car {asa guidline 19}.

Q: If I do not convert my license, can I still drive aboard?
A: Please check the law of the country you want to drive. Some countries require a driving license which is valid in your country of residence.

Q: May foreign license was handed back with a sticker which says "Not valid in Switzerland" can I remove it?
A: Yes. But this does not make it valid for using in Switzerland. If you intend to use it aboard check the local law if you just need any valid license or a license which is valid in your country of residence.

Q: May foreign license was handed me back with holes in it! WTF?
A: That may happen if it was fake license. If it was genuine it should only happen upon explicit request. Normal procedure is to give it back with a removable sticker which says it is no longer valid in Switzerland. {asa guidline 1, Section 36}

Q: What is the difference between residency and citizenship?
A: Country of citizenship is your nationality, the country you can request a passport from. It is possible to have more than one nationality. Nationality is absolutely not important regarding driving license conversion.
Place of residence is where you live and pay taxes (exemptions to U.S-Americans and Eritreans). It is possible to have more than one residency. Residency is very important and the key regarding driving license conversion.

Q: Does all of this also apply to Swiss people?
A: Yes, when they come from aboard and do not have a Swiss license.

Q: Can I drive in country X with a Swiss license.
A: For all EU and EFTA countries a definite yes. For countries, which have ratified the {1968 convention}, you may need an international driving license accompanying your Swiss one. For countries, which did not ratify the {1968 convention} but the {1949 convention} only, it gets a bit tricky as Switzerland signed the {1949 convention} but never ratified it.

Q: Can you make an example of such a country?
A: The U.S.A. Here my personal view on this topic: I never had a problem renting a car in the U.S.A. But, on the other hand my Swiss driving license was also never inspected, questioned, or deemed non-valid by a judge or police officer. I know in some states, such as Illinois, the Swiss license is perfectly valid. But I also know that by the strict letter of the law in some other states like Michigan a Swiss license may not be valid.

Q: What means to ratify a convention.
A: To put into a countries legal code. First, an international convention or treaty is just signed and at a later day it is ratified by the body with the corresponding power (Parliament, Senate etc).
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratification

Q: I have only an international driving license but lost my original foreign license, is this O.K.?
A: No, an international driving license is only a translation and has always to be shown together with your original foreign license. The international driving license alone is useless.

Q: I have a 1968 UK license, what Swiss categories will I get?
A: The Swiss categories A, A1, B, B1, BE, C1, C1E, C, CE, D1, D1E, D and DE correspond with the UK categories from 2013 See: https://www.gov.uk/old-driving-licence-categories to find out which old classes are the new categories.

Q: I have a EU license with category A2, what Swiss category will I get?
A: You will get the Swiss A(restricted 35 kW).

Q: The application form ask about medical details, what about them?
A: As with any government form better be truthful. Depending what your medical issue is you may be denied a license, get a license with restrictions, or you may have to do a yearly medical check to keep your license. If in doubt better discuss this topic with your doctor.

Q: If I move within Switzerland must I renew the license?
A: No. But you must inform the StVA/SAN of your new commune about the change of address within 14 days.{Art. 26 Abs. 2 VZV}

Q: If I move aboard can I keep my Swiss driving license
A: Yes. But you must inform your old Swiss StVA/SAN about the change of address within 14 days{Art. 26 Abs. 2 VZV}

Q: What if I do not notify the StVA/SAN about a change of address?
A: If moved within Switzerland: A fine. of CHF 20. {OBV Item 106.2}, If moved aboard: Most likely nothing. But if they have to send you a traffic fine, and you have no mail forwarding, and you miss the payment deadline the case will go to a judge, additional fees (up to hundred of francs) and a higher fine my incur!

Q: If I move aboard how long before I have to convert my licenses to a license of the new country?
A: Check the regulations of your new country of residence. It could be immediate, 14 day, 6 months, a year, or some other time period.

Q: I moved aboard and lost my Swiss driving license, can I get a new one?
A: No. But you can get from your old StVA/SAN an official statement which license categories you have. With this you should be able to get a new license in your current country of residence. The German name of the statement is "Bestätigung über die in der Schweiz registrierten Fahrberechtigungen nach Art. 24h VZV" or in French "Attestation des autorisations de conduire enregistrées en Suisse. Art. 24h OAC"

Q: Are you a lawyer?
A: No.

Q: This all does not answer my question what should I do? Open a new thread?
A: Simple state your problem in THIS thread. Someone will hopefully answer your question soon. I will try to update this FAQ accordingly.

Q: The information in this FAQ and this whole thread in general is outdated and no longer accurate, why did you not change it?
A: I am very sorry should that be the case. Hopefully I am well and sound. If you think I am gone for good feel free to request the closure of this thread and begin to write and maintain "[Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark III". I wish you all the best, you can copy over what ever you like from this thread or start all anew.

Last question, a very common question: I have driving license from country Y can I drive a non-commercial car with license plate X.
Here is the answer: All you need is A) _Any_ valid license AND B) The car's custom, duty, tax, insurance and road worthiness status must be in good order.
For the definition of "valid license", see all of the above. For the definition of "be in good order" wait for another thread.
Note: For motorized bicycles, light motorcycles, and motorcycles with a capacity of up to 125 ccm special provisions apply if you are between 14 and 18 years old. See {Art. 43 VZV}.
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

Part Five.

Introduction, Swiss law is fully codified. An act or ordinance is divided in Articles and each Article (Short: Art.) in Section (German: Absatz or short Abs.). A law is normally cited using its abbreviation, followed by Article and Section number. In this post I will use the German abbreviations. For ex: Art. 15e Abs. 1 {SVG} refers to the Road Traffic Act as defined bellow, Article 15e, Section 1.
Most laws and supporting document are available in German, French and Italian. Most Swiss Government websites offer the option to change the language, look for "DE / FR / IT" or a "D / F / I" which corresponds to German, French and Italian language option respectively. Rumantsch is denotated either as RM or R, Englisch as EN or E.

Swiss law available in an unofficial English version can be found at http://www.admin.ch/opc/en/classifie.../national.html
Additional to the law there are explanatory and clarifying letters from the relevant authorities.

The law:

Foremost, the most relevant Swiss law concerning the validity of foreign driving licenses and conversion is the Road Traffic Licensing Ordinance (No English version available, I translated the most important Articles in Part Five)
German: Verkehrszulassungsverordnung http://www.admin.ch/opc/de/classifie...247/index.html
French: Ordonnance réglant l'admission à la circulation routière http://www.admin.ch/opc/fr/classifie...247/index.html
Italian: Ordinanza sull'ammissione alla circolazione http://www.admin.ch/opc/it/classifie...247/index.html
I will refer to this document as {VZV}.

it based on the Swiss Road Traffic Act which list the penalties for driving with out a valid license (No English version available)
German: Strassenverkehrsgesetz http://www.admin.ch/opc/de/classifie...266/index.html
French: Loi fédérale sur la circulation routière http://www.admin.ch/opc/fr/classifie...266/index.html
Italian: Legge federale sulla circolazione stradale http://www.admin.ch/opc/it/classifie...266/index.html
I will refer to this document a {SVG}.

and the Road Traffic Rules Ordinance (No English version)
German: Verkehrsregelnverordnung http://www.admin.ch/opc/de/classifie...246/index.html
French: Ordonnance sur les règles de la circulation routière http://www.admin.ch/opc/fr/classifie...246/index.html
Italian: Ordinanza sulle norme della circolazione stradale http://www.admin.ch/opc/it/classifie...246/index.html
I will refer ti this document as {VRV}

Supporting and explanatory documents are:

The FEDRO Circular "Driving licenses of persons with residency aboard from 15. Feb. 2017" (Could not find an English Version)
German: Führerausweise von Personen mit Wohnsitz im Ausland (Stand am 15. Februar 2017) http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-15_2591_d.pdf
French: Permis de conduire des personnes domiciliées a l'étranger (Etat le 15. Februar 2017) http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-15_2592_f.pdf
Italian: Licenze di condurre di persone domiciliate all'estero (Stato 15. Februar 2017) http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-15_2593_i.pdf
I will refer to this document as the {FEDRO circular license exchange}.

The FEDRO Circular "The Swiss Driving License in Credit Card Format (DLC) 2003" (An English translation is also DE/FR/IT version)
English: http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-15_2264_e.pdf
German: Der schweizerische Führerausweis im Kreditkartenformat (FAK)
http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-20_2261_d.pdf
French: Le permis de conduire suisse format carte de crédit (PCC) http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-15_2262_f.pdf
Italian: La licenza di condurre svizzera in formato carta di credito (LCC) http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-15_2263_i.pdf
I will refer to this document as {2003 FEDRO circular swiss driving license}

The FEDRO instruction concerning the issue of driving licenses in credit card format. 2012
German : Neu: Weisungen betreffend Ausstellung des Führerausweises im Kreditkartenformat 2012 http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-15_2279_d.pdf
French: Nouveau: instructions relatives à l’émission du permis de conduire format carte de crédit 2012
http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-15_2280_f.pdf
Italian: Istruzioni concernenti il rilascio della licenza di condurre in formato carta di credito
http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-15_2281_i.pdf
I will refer to this source as {2012 FEDRO driving license instruction}

Additional information on the Swiss driving license categories, including age limits and other conditions
can be found at:
German: www.fuehrerausweise.ch/asa-seite1.cfm?&lang=de
French: www.fuehrerausweise.ch/asa-seite1.cfm?&lang=fr
Italian: www.fuehrerausweise.ch/asa-seite1.cfm?&lang=it
I will refer to this source as {Swiss driving license website}

The FEDRO instruction concerning the provisional driving license 2009.
German: Weisungen betreffend den Führerausweis auf Probe 2009 http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-26_2517_d.pdf
French: Instructions concernant le permis de conduire à l'essai http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-26_2521_f.pdf
Italian: Istruzioni concernenti la licenza di condurre in prova http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-26_2519_i.pdf
I will refer to this document as {2009 FEDRO instruction provisional driving license}

The Two-Phase-Training Website (Not in English)
http://www.2phasen.ch
I will refer to this source as {2-Phase website}

The FEDRO instruction concerning the verification of identity before the first issue of a Swiss lerning permit or driving license.
German: Weisung betreffend die Überprüfung der Identität vor der erstmaligen Erteilung eines schweizerischen Lernfahr- und Führerausweises http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-05_2330_d.pdf
French: Instructions relatives a la verification de l identite avant la premiere delivrance d un permis suisse d eleve conducteur et d un permis suisse de conduire http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-05_2331_f.pdf
Italian: Istruzioni concernenti la verifica dell identita prima del primo rilascio di una licenza svizzera per allievo conducente o di una licenza di condurre http://www.astra2.admin.ch/media/pdf...-05_2332_i.pdf
I will refer to this document as {2007 FEDRO instruction id verification}

The asa guideline No.1 “Behandlung der Motorfahrzeuge und Motorfahrzeugführer aus dem Ausland
German: http://www.asa.ch/webshop/richtlinien/w_1_D/index.html”
French: http://www.asa.ch/webshop/richtlinien/w_1_F/index.html
I will refer to this document as the {asa guidline 1}

The asa guideline No 19 "Kontrollfahrt und Zusatztheorieprüfung"
German: http://www.asa.ch/webshop/richtlinie...index.html#p=1
French: http://www.asa.ch/webshop/richtlinien/w_19_F/index.html

The asa guideline No 19b " Kontrollfahrt und Zusatztheorieprüfungen bei: Umtausch einer ausländischen in eine schweizer Fahrerlaubnis oder aus anderen Gründen angeordneter Kontrollfahrt"
German: https://asa.ch/wp-content/uploads/we.../asa-RL-19b-v4
French: https://asa.ch/wp-content/uploads/we...a-RL-19b-v4_FR
I will refer to this document as the {asa guidline 19}.

Federal court ruling 1C_49/2014 (In German only)
http://relevancy.bger.ch/php/aza/htt...014-1C_49-2014
I will refer to this document as {BGER 1C_49/2014}


Relevant international agreements are the:

The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic from 8. Nov. 1968 (2006 consolidate Version)
http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/t...traffic_EN.pdf

https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDe...ter=11&lang=en
I will refer to this document as the {1968 convention}.

The Geneva Convention on Road Traffic from 19. September 1949
http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/t...ic_of_1949.pdf
https://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDe...ter=11&lang=en
I will refer to this document as the {1949 convention}.

The Paris International Convention relating to Road Traffic from 24. Apr. 1926
http://www.admin.ch/opc/fr/classifie...018/index.html
(Could not find an English version)
I will refer to this document as the {1926 convention}.

Finally, relevant Swiss authorities:

Federal roads office FEDRO, Bundesamt für Strassen ASTRA, Office fédéral des routes OFROU, Ufficio federale delle strade USTRA
http://www.astra.admin.ch

asa, Vereinigung der Strassenverkehrsämter, Association des services des automobiles, Associazione dei servizi della circolazione
http://www.asa.ch

And most importantly your cantons road service office:
German: http://www.strassenverkehrsamt.ch/index.html
French: http://www.strassenverkehrsamt.ch/fr/index.html
Italian: http://www.strassenverkehrsamt.ch/it/index.html
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Old 20.03.2017, 00:53
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

Part Six.

Here is my unofficial and unapproved translation:
Relevant in Road Traffic Licensing Ordinance {VZV} are Article 42 to Article 45.

Article 42 Recognition of foreign driving licenses
Quote:
1 Foreign driver may only operate motor vehicles in Switzerland only when:

a. They have a valid national driving license, or

b. They have a valid international driving license according to the {1926 Convention}, the {1949 convention}, or the {1968 convention}, accompanied by its original national license.

2 A foreign national or international driving license entitles the owner to operate only vehicles of categories which are listed on the licenses in clear, comprehendible Latin characters.

3 Foreign drivers of motorized bicycles, light motorcycles, agriculture vehicles, work vehicles, do not need a license if they do not need a license in their country of origin. Such drivers need a photo id and may only operate the vehicle with which they entered Switzerland.

3bis A Swiss driving license needs:

a. Foreign drivers, who reside in Switzerland for at least 12 months and have not during this time been aboard for at least 3 months without any interruption.

b. Persons which professionally operates Swiss registered vehicles of Category C or D, or one of its sub category C1 or D1 or vehicles which need a special approval according to Art. 25. (Professional person transport like taxi, ambulance car, etc.)

3ter Persons with granted privileges, immunities and facilities according to Art. 2 Abs. 2 of the Host State Act do not need a Swiss driving license when:
a. they have a valid national driving license
b. they are not Swiss citizens, and
c. they own a legitimation card from the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs, which grants immunity.

4. Foreign driving licenses which were acquired by circumventing he regulations in this ordinance are not valid in Switzerland.
Note: Abs. 1 and Abs. 2 combined means you do not need an international driving license if your license is already in a readable format, for ex. many US licenses. Additionally, some national driving license are in itself already an international driving license according to the {1968 convention} on road traffic.


Article 43 Minimum age
Quote:
1 Foreign drivers must met the same minimum age requirement as Swiss drivers.

2 Drivers of foreign motorized bicycles, light motorcycles, and motorcycles of a motor capacity of 125 ccm or less, may drive in Switzerland, when they met the minimum age in their home country and are at least 16 years old.

3 The FEDRO may grant special permissions in exceptional cases.
Note: Abs 2 gives may grant more and/or less privileges then if you had a Swiss driving license. For example, a Swiss driving license entitles to drive a motorized bicycle with age 14, on the other hand you must be at least 18 years old to drive a 125 cmm motorcycle with a Swiss license. Age limits are defined in {Art. 6 VZV} and can also be found on the {Swiss driving license website}

Article 44 Acquisition of a Swiss Driving License
Quote:
1 Owner of a valid foreign driving license will a Swiss driving license of the corresponding categories be issued when they can show during a test drive (Kontrollfahrt), that they know the Swiss traffic rules, and can safely operate the vehicles of the relevant categories. Driver of motor cars must do the test drive on car of the highest requested category.
No additional test drive is needed if the license owner is also entitled to drive motorcycles. For medical checks Art. 7 Abs. 1, Art. 9, and Art. 11a Abs. 1, 2 and Art. 27 applies.

2 The Swiss driving license which allows the professional use of motor vehicles will be only issued to a foreign driver when they can show next to the test drive that they know the Swiss regulation relevant for professional drivers.

3 Drivers of foreign motorized bicycles, light motorcycles, agriculture vehicles, and work vehicles, have to take the Swiss driving license test if they do not have a foreign driving license for that categories.

4. The authorities issuing a Swiss license will collect licenses issued by an EU or EFTA state, an return it to the issuing authority. On licenses of other states, the authorities will mark that they are no longer valid in Switzerland. The content of foreign driving licenses will be registered.
Note: The legal definition of the categories is in {Art. 3 VZV}, the order of the categories is defined in {Art. 4 VZV}. An English explanation of the categories can be found in {2003 FEDRO circular swiss driving license}. A matrix regarding which lower category is included in a higher category can be found in {2012 FEDRO driving license instruction}

Article 44a Provisional Driving License
Quote:
1 Owner of a valid foreign driving license, which entitles to drive motor vehicles of category A or B, will be issued a Swiss provisional license. The provisional period starts with the issue of the Swiss license. The provisional period is three years minus the time between the issuing date of the foreign driving license and the date of the last regular exchange date according to Art. 42 Abs. 3bis Lit. a. The provisional period is for all existing categories and also all additional categories and sub categories acquired during the provisional period.

2 A non-provisional driving license will be issued to persons whose driving licenses of category A or B:
a. was issued before 1 December 2005, or
b. was issued on or after 1 December 2005 and was valid for at least one year before establishing residency in Switzerland.
A Swiss non-provisional driving license is valid forever and does not expire {Art. 15c SVG}.
A provisional driving license means you have to do two special one day driving courses before the licenses expires {Art. 15a SVG}. See also {2-Phase website} and {2009 FEDRO instruction provisional driving license}. Additional, during the provisional period a max. blood alcohol level of 0.01% applies {Art. 2a VRV}. A driving ban during the provisional period means an extension of the period by one year. A second driving ban during the provisional period means a complete loss of the license {Art. 15a SVG}. Given the definition in {Art. 44a VZV} the provisional period is between one and two years.
The expiration date is printed on the driving license, see {2003 FEDRO circular swiss driving license}.

Article 45 License revocation and invalidation.
Quote:
1 Foreign driving license may be declared invalid in Switzerland on the same grounds a Swiss driving license is revoked. A foreign license is declared invalid for indefinite time when it was acquired by circumventing Swiss or foreign regulations. Foreign authorities are informed directly or through FEDRO about the invalidation in Switzerland.

2 A revocation of a Swiss driving license has to be issued with the invalidation of any possible existing foreign licenses.

3 On international driving licenses the revocation is marked on the relevant field. The entry is marked with an official stamp.

4 Invalidated foreign driving licenses must be deposited at the authorities. They are handed back to the owner:
a after the revocation period, or the end of an invalidation.
b on request when leaving Switzerland, and no residency in Switzerland exists. By indefinite invalidation the license can be marked as non-valid in Switzerland if misuse is expected.

5 If it is impossible to issue the revocation, the FEDRO has to issue it through mutual legal assistance.

6 Invalidations issued because Swiss or foreign regulations where circumvented, are lifted when the owner can proof that since the invalidation:
a he had resided for at least three months in the state which has issued the license.
b or he has acquired a valid license in the country of residence.

7 License bans by foreign authorities must be enforced if requested by the FEDRO.
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Old 20.03.2017, 08:25
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

I can add to your part six that people who have NonEU driving licence with categories C,D,E and subcategories (Trucks/trailors and Buses) MUST take first aid course, theory exam, basic road awareness course, practical exam (everything from scratch) for this categories as they qualified like professional (job like categories) Only category A nd B can be converted straight (after probefahrt). Checked last week in strassenverkehrsamt in Zurich.
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Old 20.03.2017, 16:24
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

Really good information, thanks for sharing.

My wife and I moved to canton Nidwalden from California 1 year ago and just converted our licenses, so here is a quick summary of our experience:

We went to our local VSZ office to find out what we needed to do the conversion. The documents they wanted were: eye exam, photo, CHF 100 fee. We did the eye exam at a local mall, easy and took about 10 minutes.

One last thing the VSZ wanted that created a big headache for us was the ORIGINAL issue date of our CA DL's. CA DL's don't have the date that they were ORIGINALLY issued on them, just the date that particular piece of plastic was issued, and since CA requires you to renew your DL every X amount of years, my DL unfortunately said it was issued in 2014 (I first got it around 2003) and my wife's DL was issued in 2015 due to our recent marriage & her subsequent name change.

We were coming up on the 1 year deadline quickly so this made us pretty nervous and after talking to the CA DMV, we were instructed to fill out a form (PM me if you need to know which form) and mail it to Sacramento. About a month later we received what we needed back from them but during that time our 1 year in CH had passed, so we went to the VSZ and they told us they would issue our new DL's and just use our current CA DL date of issue as the date of original issuance. They said the downside to this was the cost of car insurance would be higher, but we didn't have a choice. My wife had an older DL from which they took her issue date from, but I had to go with a 2014 issue date.

While we were waiting for our new Swiss DL to arrive in the mail, the DMV paperwork came and we were able to provide it to the VSZ in time for them to use since they hadn't done our DL's yet.

We were leaving the country that day so we went to the VSZ office and collected our new and old DL's and paid the fees. For anyone wondering, they gave us back our CA DL's with a stamp that says something to the effect of "not valid in CH".

Hope that's helpful to someone as there's not much instruction online for the situation we were in.
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Old 20.03.2017, 16:33
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

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One last thing the VSZ wanted that created a big headache for us was the ORIGINAL issue date of our CA DL's. CA DL's don't have the date that they were ORIGINALLY issued on them, just the date that particular piece of plastic was issued, and since CA requires you to renew your DL every X amount of years, my DL unfortunately said it was issued in 2014 (I first got it around 2003) and my wife's DL was issued in 2015 due to our recent marriage & her subsequent name change.

We were coming up on the 1 year deadline quickly so this made us pretty nervous and after talking to the CA DMV, we were instructed to fill out a form (PM me if you need to know which form) and mail it to Sacramento. About a month later we received what we needed back from them.
Thank you. Will incorporate your information.

PS: The form to request your drivers record from the CA DMV is INF 1125 and is available here. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1...ms/inf/inf1125
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Old 20.03.2017, 16:40
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

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I can add to your part six that people who have NonEU driving licence with categories C,D,E and subcategories (Trucks/trailors and Buses) MUST take first aid course, theory exam, basic road awareness course, practical exam (everything from scratch) for this categories as they qualified like professional (job like categories) Only category A nd B can be converted straight (after probefahrt). Checked last week in strassenverkehrsamt in Zurich.
Will consider this. The info can be found in {2003 FEDRO circular swiss driving license} and as you see truck and coach licenses from EEA country can also be exchanged without issues.
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Old 20.03.2017, 16:57
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

Just a small point. In the UK, as an insulin dependent diabetic, my DL was renewed every four years following a medical exam and my doctor filling in the appropriate DVLA form. In Switzerland this is every year (at CHF100 or thereabouts per go). If this is a cantonal requirement (Zürich) I cannot say. It may be different for other medical reasons of course. I had to provide a medical exam form when converting so if this affects you you may want to factor that into the timings.
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Old 03.05.2017, 17:05
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

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Thank you. Will incorporate your information.

PS: The form to request your drivers record from the CA DMV is INF 1125 and is available here. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1...ms/inf/inf1125

Just happened to me. My CA license has no "original" date which messed up the Swiss process. I have some old, expired licenses with the same #. I'll see if they work.

Last edited by Natzure; 03.05.2017 at 17:37.
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Old 23.06.2017, 15:10
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

I want to ask a question. I just passed my driving test today and the inspector told me I would be getting a new licence by mail nextweek. the problem is that I am doing a conversion of my licence to a swiss one. I used an automatic car for the exam. Although I can drive manual cars, Infact my first car was a manual drive and when i got the letter for the kontrolfahrt, just to understand the swiss technicalities, I did one lesson with my driving tutor (with a manual car and the other lessons with automatic) who said that since i was doing an exchange, it did not matter what transmission i drove that I would be given a licence that still covers both. Has anyone had an experience with this before? if yes, please can you share with me? thanks.
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Old 23.06.2017, 15:16
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

AFAIK you can use an automatic car for the Kontrollfahrt w/o any issues or future restrictions. It is open to question how much sense it makes. But also people with an US Americans are given an unrestricted license which allows to drive stick shift cars. They do not even have to do a Kontrollfahrt (considering over there is no priority from the right, crossing solid lines is o.k., and nearly all traffic signs look differently)

You can either contact your local Strassenverkehrsamt and ask them to get peace of mind, or just wait until you get your license.

Anyway, please report back what ever the outcome will be and also happy congratulations to your successful conversion.
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Old 23.06.2017, 15:21
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

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AFAIK you can use an automatic car for the Kontrollfahrt w/o any issues or future restrictions. It is open to question how much sense it makes. But also people with an US Americans are given an unrestricted license which allows to drive stick shift cars. They do not even have to do a Kontrollfahrt (considering over there is no priority from the right, crossing solid lines is o.k., and nearly all traffic signs look differently)

You can either contact your local Strassenverkehrsamt and ask them to get peace of mind, or just wait until you get your license.

Anyway, please report back what ever the outcome will be and also happy congratulations to your successful conversion.

would do. the driving instructor said I would be given an unrestricted licence but I just wanted to confirm. I guess the same rule would apply to me.
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Old 23.06.2017, 16:26
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

Hi, just exchanged my US license for CH license (btw, it wasn't a full "exchange" as I got my US license back with a sticker saying "Not valid in Switzerland"). There are no restrictions as to transmission type, only size of the vehicle.
Cheers.
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Old 23.06.2017, 17:45
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

Thank you for your feedback

(Note to myself: add something about cost)
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Old 23.06.2017, 18:04
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

I think mine was just about 100CHF...but I'm not 100% sure.
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Old 23.06.2017, 18:06
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

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I think mine was just about 100CHF...but I'm not 100% sure.
In St. Gallen it can be anything from CHF 80 to 400
https://www.gesetzessammlung.sg.ch/f.../versions/2120

In Zurich CHF 112 (20 + 42 + 50) + CHF 134 if a Kontrollfahrt is needed.
http://www.stva.zh.ch/internet/siche...GEBlenker.html
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Old 06.08.2017, 14:31
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

HI house, I was given a licence that allows me to be able to drive both automatic and manual cars. Giving this update as suggested in a post by someone else.
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Old 16.08.2017, 10:25
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

Hi! Thanks very much for all the info, very useful indeed.

I am in the process of exchanging my Colombian license for a Swiss one. I live in Neuchatel. I am in contact with the cantonal authorities and they said I can only take the exam in French and that I can't have a translator with me. My French is still very poor. Can anybody share their experience of the exam? Is there a lot of talking? Would I pass it with a basic level of French?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 16.08.2017, 10:32
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Re: [Drivers licence] Conversion and questions, Mark II

I'm sorry to hear that you're in this situation. For us in St. Gallen, they took our US driver's licenses and then issued a CH license. They then returned our US license with a label that says it's no longer valid in CH. There was no test either written or driving. Sorry not to be more help.
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