Swiss Citizenship

How to get Swiss citizenship – find out how to get Swiss nationality so that you can get a Swiss passport, and the documents required for the application procedure…

There are a number of different ways to get Swiss nationality; through naturalisation (regular or simplified), marriage or birth.

Naturalisation

A foreigner can apply for Swiss nationality through regular naturalisation (naturalisation ordinaire/ Ordentliche Einbürgerung) after living in Switzerland continuously for 12 years. A new law on nationality comes into force on 1 January 2018, which reduces this period to 10 years. The applicant must be able to prove they speak one of the official languages of Switzerland (French, German or Italian) and that they are well integrated into Swiss society. Parents of minors may apply for Swiss citizenship on the child’s behalf if the child is aged 11 or over and meets the residency requirements.

If married to a Swiss citizen it is possible to apply for simplified naturalisation (known as naturalisation facilitée/Erleichterte Einbürgerung) if the applicant has lived in Switzerland for at least five years (and for at least one year preceding the application), and has been married for at least three years to a Swiss citizen. The Swiss spouse must have been a Swiss citizen at the time of the marriage.

Once a person is naturalised, they become a citizen of the Swiss confederation and of the canton where the application was made. They are then able to apply for a Swiss passport and vote in national elections. Male Swiss citizens are obliged to carry our military service before the age of 34.

Applications for regular naturalisation

Applications for Swiss naturalisation based on residency are made through the cantonal authorities in the commune of residence.

The first step in the naturalisation process is to get a federal naturalisation permit through the confederation. This permit allows the procedure to continue. The permit is granted based on reports from both the canton and community. The procedure then continues through the local canton and community; it is then up to the local canton and community to grant citizenship or not.

In addition to the required years of residency in Switzerland, the applicant must have been living in the canton where they are making the application for a specific amount of time, the amount of years of required residency for each canton is outlined here. If these additional residency requirements in a canton or community are satisfied, the naturalisation may be granted.

As a general rule, there is no right of appeal if the naturalisation is refused by the canton or community.

Documents required

The documents required may vary from one canton to another but in general will include:

  • Valid residence permit
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of no criminal record
  • Proof of up-to-date tax payments
  • Proof of knowledge of one of the official languages spoken in the canton of residence – applicants must have achieved a minimum level of A2

The applicant may need to successfully pass a test proving their knowledge of Swiss history, geography and institutions, for example this is required in Geneva. In other cantons, the decision may be entirely dependent on the communal assembly.

There are a number of fees that are to be paid to the confederation, canton and community, which will vary from one town to another. However, expect to pay approximately 2,500 to 3,000 CHF for the naturalisation.

The length of the procedure for regular naturalisation depends on the canton and community, but can be around three years. As the procedure varies from one canton to another, it is advisable not to move house throughout the naturalisation procedure as this may impact the outcome. Contact the canton in the event of a move for clarification.

Applications for simplified naturalisation

If married to a Swiss citizen, the application for naturalisation is carried out via the Secrétariat d’Etat aux migrations.

The form to apply for simplified naturalisation can be requested either by email or at the following address; it will then be sent by post to your home

  • Secrétariat d’Etat aux migrations SEM
    Quellenweg 6
    CH-3003 Berne-Wabern

The procedure for simplified naturalisation takes approximately 18 months.

Swiss Nationality from Birth

A person born in Switzerland to a married couple where one of the couple is Swiss, is automatically a Swiss citizen. A child born to an unmarried Swiss mother is a Swizz citizen. If the father is Swiss and not married to the mother, the child can claim Swiss citizenship if the father recognises his paternity. A child adopted by a Swiss citizen automatically acquires Swiss nationality

Dual Nationality

Dual nationality is permitted in Switzerland. As not all countries allow dual nationality, it is advisable to check with the consulate of the applicant’s home country before starting the procedure for Swiss citizenship.

Further Information