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Old 11.12.2018, 16:08
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Exemption from exchanging driving license and associated fees

Dear readers,

Long story ahead, bear with me! Some needed background information: I'm a French student completing a Master degree at ETH Zurich. I now hold a B resident permit. Prior to that, I attended the University of Geneva and was driving from my home in France to there back and forth every day.

A few weeks ago, while shopping in Germany, I got stopped at the border on my way back (due to my French license plates). Small talk with the customs officer, and he asks me to show him the car's papers, which I assumed to be the car registration documents. Wrong! Apparently, I wasn't authorized to drive a foreign car with a foreign driver's license now that I "officially" live in Zurich. This didn't hit me previously while studying in Geneva because I'd drive back and forth every day. If I wanted to drive with my foreign vehicle, I needed some exemption paper from them that authorizes it.

So, I proceed to go to the customs offices, fill up the necessary paperwork, pay a 20CHF fee, get the document, and go on with my journey. A few days later, I get a letter from the Strassenverkehrsamt with some forms that seem to be about exchanging my driver's license and my license plates ; but the letter also came with yet another form that looked like to be a request to be exempted from these changes since I had the customs document (sorry if this sounds over-complicated).

At this stage, I decided to go in person to the Strassenverkehrsamt. The lady told me that I just had to fill in the exemption form and turn it in, and that I could keep both my driver's license and my French license plates, given one condition: me returning to France at least twice a month, which I do. Also, this exemption would be valid up until the customs document expires, which is sometimes in two years. So I fill in everything. Another few days later, I received a document that said that everything was in order. Great, I think! Fast-forward to today. I just received a nice bill of 120CHF for "Zulassungsbefr. ausl. Wochenaufenthalter". Now comes the questions:
  • What's this bill for? What exactly am I paying? I couldn't find decent enough translations. Something about a weekly permit resident....? But I have a permit already.
  • Does this bill for "weekly resident" thingy somehow interferes with my B resident permit?
  • Most importantly: I read here and on some other places that I had a year to exchange my driver's license, otherwise past this deadline I'd need to retake the practical exam here in Switzerland. Does this deadline still applies given that I now have an exemption? Or would it apply from the moment the customs document is not valid anymore ; or from the moment I switch my status to "not returning to France at least twice a week" anymore ?

Thank you all so much for helping me out!
Cheers
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Old 11.12.2018, 21:50
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Re: Exemption from exchanging driving license and associated fees

"Zulassungsbefr. ausl. Wochenaufenthalter"
is short for
"Zulassungsbefreiung ausländischer Wochenaufenthalter"
excemption of registration for a foreign Wochenaufenthalter

A "Wochenaufenthalter" (WA) stays in town A (typically Monday thru Friday) but has legal residence in town B. The life center is in B which is why he's expected to return relatively often, the tax residence is also in B. A Swiss WA is expected to return every weekend to town B, in your case (with presumably further distance) apparently every other weekend is fine. Your WA status depends on your residence permit.

The bill is for this excemption and all the hassle you dared cause

Also as a consequence of your WA status, I'd think you're still allowed to drive foreign-plated cars. I'd also guess that you can't exchange your driver's license. But this is just a guess, you should contact the officials. Personally I'd call the contact provided in the 120CHF invoice. Be prepared to post your questions by email due to language issues, you could do that directly instead of calling first.
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Old 11.12.2018, 21:58
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Re: Exemption from exchanging driving license and associated fees

Appreciate your answer, it's much clearer, thanks ! So if I get you right, my B resident permit doesn't "contradict" this exemption I've been granted and this WA status, correct ?

I still have my foreign license plates, yes. I'm good with not changing them, I just want to make sure that in the highly probable event where I find a job once done with my MSc in Zurich and thus become a "fix" resident, they'll just switch my status and allow me to exchange my license within a year as for any new incoming swiss resident (therefore without having to re-take the practical exam and having to pay the associated fees).
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Old 12.12.2018, 00:45
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Re: Exemption from exchanging driving license and associated fees

Hi gtheo

My opinion is that you need to exchange your driving license in a period of one year since you received your permit. And that’s regardless your car, its plates or how often you travel back and forth. As far as I know, any EU citizen getting residence p permit in Switzerland has one year to exchange his driving license. After that deadline you will need to sit for exams.

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Old 12.12.2018, 08:07
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Re: Exemption from exchanging driving license and associated fees

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I still have my foreign license plates, yes. I'm good with not changing them, I just want to make sure that in the highly probable event where I find a job once done with my MSc in Zurich and thus become a "fix" resident, they'll just switch my status and allow me to exchange my license within a year as for any new incoming swiss resident (therefore without having to re-take the practical exam and having to pay the associated fees).
As mentioned above, I'd enquire about the need/ability to convert your license. That's easily done and an error on that part has the potential to be rather costly.
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Old 12.12.2018, 08:23
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Re: Exemption from exchanging driving license and associated fees

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As far as I know, any EU citizen getting residence p permit in Switzerland has one year to exchange his driving license. After that deadline you will need to sit for exams.
Wrong.

You have 5 years to exchange it, but you can no longer use it in Switzerland after one year.

Tom
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Old 12.12.2018, 10:12
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Re: Exemption from exchanging driving license and associated fees

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. As far as I know, any EU citizen getting residence p permit in Switzerland has one year to exchange his driving license. After that deadline you will need to sit for exams.
Not even remotely true.
- After one year of taking up residence your foreign license is void for driving in Switzerland.
- It may be also void abroad if the other country request a driving license which is valid in your country of residence.
- After five years you might have to do a "test drive" to exchange the license, unless you can proof you still drive regularly.
- Only if you botch the test drive, which is approx 30 minutes, you will have to do all the exams and mandatory lessons to get a Swiss license.

See https://www.englishforum.ch/transpor...s-mark-ii.html
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Old 12.12.2018, 20:24
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Re: Exemption from exchanging driving license and associated fees

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Wrong.

You have 5 years to exchange it, but you can no longer use it in Switzerland after one year.

Tom
What happens if OP should have exchanged the driver's license but didn't, and is innocently involved in an accident after the first year? AFAIK without a valid license you have zero protection by the insurance and risk being the culprit despite not causing the accident.

OP, please enquire as per above.
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Old 13.12.2018, 00:47
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Re: Exemption from exchanging driving license and associated fees

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Not even remotely true.
- After one year of taking up residence your foreign license is void for driving in Switzerland.
- It may be also void abroad if the other country request a driving license which is valid in your country of residence.
- After five years you might have to do a "test drive" to exchange the license, unless you can proof you still drive regularly.
- Only if you botch the test drive, which is approx 30 minutes, you will have to do all the exams and mandatory lessons to get a Swiss license.

See https://www.englishforum.ch/transpor...s-mark-ii.html
I am not sure where you get this information and are so confident about what you are saying.

I see that: https://stva.zh.ch/internet/sicherhe...umschreib.html

and that: https://stva.zh.ch/internet/sicherhe...Aaberkenn.html

Who said anything about license being void anywhere else?! We are talking about Switzerland and the ability of someone to drive in CH with a foreign license. There are some very specific exemptions such as diplomats but I am talking about the general rule here. The official canton Zurich website states it clearly that within one year, from the day someone got his residence permit, he needs to exchange his license. After that year passes, his license is not valid anymore in CH which means if he wants a CH license he will need to sit for exams. Of course his EU license is still valid in EU, but again we are talking about Switzerland here.

Correct me if I wrong.
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Old 05.02.2019, 00:07
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Re: Exemption from exchanging driving license and associated fees

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Wrong.
You have 5 years to exchange it, but you can no longer use it in Switzerland after one year.
Tom
I think you can re-use it when you leave the country and come back, because they start counting from the day of latest registration? Not sure, though, but using Swiss logic sounds plausible.
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Old 06.02.2019, 21:34
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Re: Exemption from exchanging driving license and associated fees

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I am not sure where you get this information and are so confident about what you are saying.
https://www.englishforum.ch/transpor...s-mark-ii.html

All there. Specially the VZV, the ASA Guidline No1 and the Federal court ruling 1C_49/2014.
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