The exchange of a foreign driving license is mandatory within one year from the beginning of the residence permit in Switzerland.
ATTENTION. Does not apply to professional drivers. They must change it immediately or preferably even before moving into Switzerland.
It’s not a big science. It cost about CHF 100, you solve it all in few hours and everything is at home within 10 days. Your original license will travel back to your home country and will be stored there, in case you ever return there.
You will need following things:
A completed application
You can get it at the Municipal Office “Gemeinde”, at the local traffic inspectorate “Strassenverkehrsamt” or download it from the internet according to your canton. You can download this form for the canton of Zürich HERE
There must be a residence stamp on the application
Go to the Municipal Office “Gemeinde” and they will be happy to confirm it to you. They like integrating foreigners and road tax payers.
An eye examination
A stamp from an optician or an ophthalmologist on request. It is best to go to an optician somewhere in a shopping center, as it only costs CHF 20 there and you can wait there a short moment for an immediate result. Don’t go to an ophthalmologist, it can cost as much as CHF 200 and it doesn’t have to be as fast as in optics.
One passport photo
Fill in all the necessary information in the form, put it together with your foreign driving license in an envelope and send it to a corresponding traffic inspectorate “Strassenverkehrsamt”. Or hand everything over to your Municipal Office “Gemeinde” and wait. Within 14 days, a new and pretty Swiss one will land in your mail box with an invoice for about CHF 80 according to the canton. And it’s done. In some cantons it can cost up to CHF 200.
The new license can come even in a week. Attention, in case of professional drivers the process can take a bit longer.
You can ask any questions in our facebook group Establishing yourself in Switzerland, we would love to help you out over there.