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Old 21.03.2007, 01:01
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Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

Within a few weeks, I will have been here a year.

Now, I do not have a car, do not rent cars, and am not planning on having a car in the next few years, yet I live here and there is the drivers license exchange requirement.

I do not want to have a Swiss license and lose my EU one if I never use the Swiss one. So what happens if I want to rent a car years from now, but have not converted my license? Do I then have to sit a practical exam, or are people who never drive in Switzerland exempt from having to exchange their license, i.e., can we exchange later on without any trouble?

I can ring them and ask, but since so much seems to depend on individual decisions by local kantonal officers, I was hoping others here have experience with this...
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Old 21.03.2007, 07:36
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

Assuming you're from a straight exchange country:
Some people I now converted their license after a year, no problems.
Others had to take a test.
"It depends"

As long as you never, ever want to drive on the roads here, then I guess you don't have to change it.

If you do ever drive and are stopped, then it could be anywhere between "naughty boy" to a fine. Of course, it probably invalidates any insurance you have.

Personally, it makes no difference to me between driving with a UK one or a Swiss one. At all.

There's also a requirement to carry ID here.
I only carry my Swiss driving license.
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Old 21.03.2007, 08:31
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

I have both a Swiss one and UK one - I was not asked to hand in the UK one when it was 'exchanged'.

Rule #1 never ask - you are putting someone on the spot and can expect their answer will be 'Yes, you must get a Swiss licence'.

If you will never drive here, you don't need a license not to drive, do you? I mean you don't need a bus ticket if you walk...

Last edited by AbFab; 21.03.2007 at 08:44.
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Old 21.03.2007, 09:20
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

I checked with the DVLA in the UK before exchanging My UK licence for a Swiss one. They said there was no problem switching back if I returned to the live in the EU. They would also keep any endorsements on my UK licence waiting for me, how kind.
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Old 21.03.2007, 09:20
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

You are the lucky one, you have to exchange now and they take your old one. There is a way to keep both licenses but it is not strictly legal, it wrked for a friend of mine
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Old 21.03.2007, 10:26
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

I would tell the authorities that you still need your original licence as you have an address at home and bank accounts and it helps with the KYC side of things....
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Old 21.03.2007, 10:27
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

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I have both a Swiss one and UK one - I was not asked to hand in the UK one when it was 'exchanged'.

Rule #1 never ask - you are putting someone on the spot and can expect their answer will be 'Yes, you must get a Swiss licence'.

If you will never drive here, you don't need a license not to drive, do you? I mean you don't need a bus ticket if you walk...
But didn't you do yours back in the Dark ages?
I had to hand my UK licence over at the start of 2006.
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Old 21.03.2007, 10:40
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

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But didn't you do yours back in the Dark ages?
I had to hand my UK licence over at the start of 2006.
This was 1989. I presented my form, eyetest, photo and UK license at the The Zurich Street Traffic Office and was informed that my new Swiss one would be posted to me with a bill (CHF70) within 7 days.

Having inspected the scant details of my UK license (which included the right to ride any motor cycle) they handed it back to me - after all I had to drive home again and Swiss law requires you keep a driving license with you when driving...
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Old 21.03.2007, 10:48
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

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Within a few weeks, I will have been here a year.

Now, I do not have a car, do not rent cars, and am not planning on having a car in the next few years, yet I live here and there is the drivers license exchange requirement.

I do not want to have a Swiss license and lose my EU one if I never use the Swiss one. So what happens if I want to rent a car years from now, but have not converted my license? Do I then have to sit a practical exam, or are people who never drive in Switzerland exempt from having to exchange their license, i.e., can we exchange later on without any trouble?

I can ring them and ask, but since so much seems to depend on individual decisions by local kantonal officers, I was hoping others here have experience with this...

If you ever intend to drive in Switzerland, you'll need to change it now whilst it's possible to swap it. If you have to change it after the first year you might have to take a Swiss driving test.

I didn't have a car for the first couple of years in CH so never bothered changing the license. Then I got stopped at a random check whilst driving a rental car. I got a fine (relatively small by Swiss standards, luckily) and was told to change the license. At this stage I could have been asked to take a driving test but luckily the Strassenverkehrsamt just swapped it.

Of course, there was a tale of hassle afterwards about getting the StVA to stamp the form that the police gave me to prove I had changed the license, but that's another story.
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Old 21.03.2007, 14:49
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

Ok, that is all very annoying, so Swiss I think, this whole thing. I mean, if you do not have a car, you are likely not to even know you have to exchange the damn thing.

I did not want to exchange mine because I know I will lose the EU one (based on partner's experience) and in order to get it back it is a hassle with the tax authorities in my own country. (I know, , but it is true).

It is just frankly stupid that if I am here for three years and leave again without driving I need to get a Swiss one and then get my own back again.

Anyway, thanks heaps everyone, and Gav too, your situation was very applicable, and it sounds like the hassle later is not worth the hassle that would be saved now.
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Old 21.03.2007, 15:39
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

On the other hand, if you're British, you can't keep your British one anyway because a) you have to notify them of your change in address, and b) the address may not be outside of the UK. So you might well get it in the neck if/when you use it in the UK again. Exchanging seems like a better option, to be honest.
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Old 21.03.2007, 15:51
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

I've had a swiss licence (losing my UK one), then returned to the UK for a while and reobtained my UK licence, then returned to Switzerland and a swiss licence again (again losing my UK licence) all without hiccup... apart from the cost (approx £18 or something on the UK side, CHF70 on the swiss side), so long as it's all done within the permitted time frames.

Apart from your reasonable desire not to give up your EU licence (which I'm sure you might be able to find some excuse or way around as has been suggested further up in the thread), I think it's worth changing just to avoid potential future hassle in the event that you do actually want to drive here.

I also very rarely (if ever) drive here in Switzerland, but much prefer the option of changing licence to the prospect of resitting my driving test!
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Old 21.03.2007, 15:53
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

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On the other hand, if you're British, you can't keep your British one anyway because a) you have to notify them of your change in address, and b) the address may not be outside of the UK. So you might well get it in the neck if/when you use it in the UK again. Exchanging seems like a better option, to be honest.
The UK license should be swappable back - that's what the DVLI told me. I still haven't got around to doing it yet.
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Old 07.08.2007, 21:01
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

Ok, I decided that it is safer to exchange the licence, since I might want to rent a car someday!

So I exchanged my Australian licence, which was an enormous hassle as the first person at the counter and her boss did not want to exchange it as I am not Australian, despite having obtained permanent residency. They said I had to prove I have lived there for years and years. (Which does not seem to be a requirement in the official documentation, but they did not budge).

So I came back with all this evidence, this time being seen by another person and another 'chef', and they did not require any evidence, except for my valid licence!

Goes to show that if you are refused, it might be worth going back, as you might get another person, who is in fact 100% sure of the rules, and therefore not afraid to apply them .
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Old 07.08.2007, 21:34
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

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Ok, I decided that it is safer to exchange the licence, since I might want to rent a car someday!

So I exchanged my Australian licence, which was an enormous hassle as the first person at the counter and her boss did not want to exchange it as I am not Australian, despite having obtained permanent residency. They said I had to prove I have lived there for years and years. (Which does not seem to be a requirement in the official documentation, but they did not budge).

So I came back with all this evidence, this time being seen by another person and another 'chef', and they did not require any evidence, except for my valid licence!

Goes to show that if you are refused, it might be worth going back, as you might get another person, who is in fact 100% sure of the rules, and therefore not afraid to apply them .
Yes - this sort of thing is commonplace with Swiss bureaucracy. There are so many rules that often the officials don't know/understand them all. However, officials like to think that they are God and will absolutely refuse to budge on their position once they've made their divine proclaimation.

I got three different answers from three different officials at the StVA regarding getting a form stamped after license swapping. A mate of mine also got duff advice from an StVA official regarding his blue zone parking permit after he had to change his numberplates which resulted in the police impounding his car for not having a correct parking permit!

Looks like they aren't the brightest lot in Zuerich StVA.
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Old 07.08.2007, 22:09
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

I drove in the UK but when I came here I could not see the point of driving as the public transport here is so good and we live in the Basel. So I never changed my licence over.

If I wanted to drive in Switzerland I would have to take the swiss driving test. I am assuming it must be very easy because so many drivers are bad drivers. The majority break the law at zebra crossings and certainly seldom give the pedestrian the right of way.

As I still have a uk licence does that mean it is still legal for me to drive any where but Switzerland ? Not that I am interested...just curious.

Have fun

Martin
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Old 07.08.2007, 22:16
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

Quote:
As I still have a uk licence does that mean it is still legal for me to drive any where but Switzerland ?
Depends on the country you live in at the time. If you are visiting, then likely, yes you can.

By the way, both me and my spouse were able to get our Swiss licence after the deadline of one year had passed. They only briefly glanced at the date and moved on .
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Old 07.08.2007, 22:27
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

If you are a Brit here is the procedure for changing your license back to a UK one.
This system has been in place for many years and you should always be able to transfer back to your original country without any problem.
It is a complicated procedure for the authorities to handle because of the many different regulations of all the countries who participate in this scheme.

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Old 07.08.2007, 22:30
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

Heya

I changed my license over earlier in the year, past the 1 year date.

I have an Australian Probationary license and I filled in the form, had the eye test and went to the Strassenverkehrsamt , handed it all in.

They took the Australian license and said that it would all be posted back to me in a couple of weeks. When I asked what happens if the police pull me over and I have no license that I can produce they said simply tell them that we have it and they will contact us.. easy.

Now I got my Australian license back ( god it felt wierd driving and not carrying a license - like when I forget my mobile - somehow naked) and I got a full Swiss license and according to my Swiss license I have been driving since 1998, but actually only since 2003 - not sure where they got that from but anways it works in my favour should any accident happen.

So all pretty simple and easy but this was in Aargau not Zurich, but as mentioned before there are many many bad drivers on the road so I do wonder why they dont make everyone sit a test or have an expiry date on the licenses here or have obligatory refresher courses every few years... but that I think is another thread/topic....

Enjoy
kt
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Old 09.08.2007, 01:49
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Re: Swiss licence requirement if no car?!

If they retain your original license, what happen if I need to drive when I am back home for holiday? I still need a valid license to drive too...

And with swiss license, can I use it elsewhere other than Switzerland, for instance, Germany and France?
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