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Old 08.08.2018, 10:40
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Should I get a Swiss license?

I am wondering if I should get a Swiss drivers license. I have diplomatic status which allows me to drive on my American license without issue or need to obtain a local one. My concern is that these rules may not be well known outside the country or neighboring France. Will I have issues with local authorities in Europe for driving a car with Swiss diplomatic plates and an American driver's license? Are there any other benefits locally to have a Swiss license?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Dan
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Old 08.08.2018, 10:46
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

There are so many cars driving round with diplomatic plates it would be hard to believe that the police AREN'T abreast of the traffic rules regarding the licences.

Even if you're caught by one that isn't aware of them, that doesn't mean you are breaking the rules.

If you don't have to change your licence, I wouldn't bother.

Have you spoken to your HR (or whatever the diplomatic equivalent of that is)?
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Old 08.08.2018, 11:05
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

Is there a chance that in the future your diplomatic status might change?

If so, how would that play with the rule that 'normal folks' have one year from taking up residency to change to a Swiss license via the administrative route, if one misses that deadline one has to go through the pain of taking the Swiss written and road tests?

I don't know the answer to that, but were it me, I'd want to find out before deciding whether or not to switch.
'

(But then, I've been known to get caught up in so many 'what if' permutations when making decisions that I end up getting tied in knots for nothing... )
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Old 08.08.2018, 11:45
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

In spite of having diplomatic status, if you're registered with a car rental company as resident in Switzerland at present don't you find any difficulties hiring a car in some countries (such as the UK) if you can't show a Swiss driving licence at the desk?
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Old 08.08.2018, 12:51
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

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In spite of having diplomatic status, if you're registered with a car rental company as resident in Switzerland at present don't you find any difficulties hiring a car in some countries (such as the UK) if you can't show a Swiss driving licence at the desk?
Why would it? I've rented cars in foreign countries while being a Swiss Resident but laying down a Dutch license, nobody ever blinked an eye.
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Old 08.08.2018, 13:02
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

That's fine, then. It was just my personal experience; but many many years ago.
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Old 08.08.2018, 13:16
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

I say go ahead and get a Swiss license. It's an easy process and since you're American, the U.S. license is still valid there even after you get a Swiss license here. EU folks have to swap and then re-apply back in their home countries. The only "restriction" is that you can no longer drive on your U.S. license here after you have the Swiss one. The U.S. license is returned to you with a stamp or sticker that indicates it's not valid in CH.

Swiss driving licenses don't expire. American ones do. Are you going to be able to go back to the States and renew on time? Will you even be able to renew the American one if you don't have a current residence there?
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Old 08.08.2018, 14:05
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

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Are there any other benefits locally to have a Swiss license?
Swiss ones don't expire. US ones do quite frequently. This alone has saved me much potential anguish over the years by converting to swiss one early on. Best thing I did in hindsight.

And in some US states, continually renewing drivers license is one of the factors in considering you are still state resident, for US state taxes. I would avoid at all costs.
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Old 08.08.2018, 15:45
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

What? And tax free petrol to boot. You dips do lead an easy life.
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Old 08.08.2018, 16:36
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

Wait, what? My Swiss license never expires? I thought I remember about 5 years ago having to go in to renew my Swiss license. Why did I do that?
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Old 08.08.2018, 16:46
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

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Wait, what? My Swiss license never expires? I thought I remember about 5 years ago having to go in to renew my Swiss license. Why did I do that?
Category C or C1? That needs a periodic medical.
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Old 09.08.2018, 10:31
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

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There are so many cars driving round with diplomatic plates it would be hard to believe that the police AREN'T abreast of the traffic rules regarding the licences.

Even if you're caught by one that isn't aware of them, that doesn't mean you are breaking the rules.

If you don't have to change your licence, I wouldn't bother.

Have you spoken to your HR (or whatever the diplomatic equivalent of that is)?
I have no concerns with local authorities. It is more of a concern with going on a road trip and having trouble 500km from home and with the local authorities who may not be familiar with Swiss rules.

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What? And tax free petrol to boot. You dips do lead an easy life.
Plus my car was VAT free and at a nice diplomatic discount...
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Old 09.08.2018, 10:36
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

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I have no concerns with local authorities. It is more of a concern with going on a road trip and having trouble 500km from home and with the local authorities who may not be familiar with Swiss rules.
Makes no difference whether the local authorities understand the Swiss rules or not. That's their problem, not yours. If you have a valid licence then there's not much they can charge you with (other than whatever they pulled you over for in the first place) that would stand up in court.

If you want to avoid the doubt and inconvenience, just get a Swiss licence. It's not a big deal. As someone pointed out, at least you don't have to go through the rigmarole of renewing it every 5 years, as you presumably do with the US licence.
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Old 09.08.2018, 21:03
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

Don't forget this added benefit: showing the Swiss license if you happen to get pulled over while driving while visiting the US. While vacationing in the US one summer during my family's time of residence in Switzerland, I happened to get pulled over by a Texas Department of Public Safety officer. I presented my Swiss license and his response was "Uhhhmm, whut's that?" I explained that I lived in Switzerland and was driving a borrowed car while visiting.

He let me go, presumably because he either a) did not know how to issue a citation for an international license, or b) he did not want to go to the trouble to do so.

(Many thanks to OP for the chance to post something potentially useful to someone. Five years after returning to the US from CH, my opportunities to do so on this forum are pretty limited, so today was meaningful.)
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Old 09.08.2018, 21:12
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

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Wait, what? My Swiss license never expires? I thought I remember about 5 years ago having to go in to renew my Swiss license. Why did I do that?
Getting a plastic one maybe?

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Category C or C1? That needs a periodic medical.
Doesn't matter. So does Taxi and I never have to show or change my liscense. All in the books at "Strassenverkehrsamt".

OP: Isn't your doplomatic status valid world-wide?
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Old 09.08.2018, 21:27
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Re: Should I get a Swiss license?

OP, Switzerland has no authority over you due to your diplomatic status. You're not subject to Swiss laws (without the consent of the entity you're working for), isn't that correct?

So legally speaking, I would say you don't have Swiss residence even though your residence may have been built on Swiss soil. I would expect you've never had to register with the local authorities, for example.

As such you most probably lack the primary precondition - legal residence in CH.

You probably want to get that confirmed by your employer, they should know.
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