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Exchanging a Foreign Driving Licence in Basel: Step-by-Step Guide

Moving to a new country comes with many tasks, one of which is ensuring you can legally drive. If you’ve recently moved to Switzerland, exchanging your foreign driving licence is a crucial step. This process may seem daunting, but with the right information, you can navigate it smoothly. Here’s a comprehensive guide from a leading moving company in Basel, Classic Umzüge, to help you through the process of exchanging your foreign driving licence in Switzerland.

Exchanging a foreign driving licence in Switzerland.
Guide on exchanging a foreign driving licence in Switzerland.

Why Exchange Your Foreign Driving Licence?

Switzerland requires all foreign residents to exchange their driving licence if they plan to stay longer than 12 months. This ensures that all drivers meet Swiss standards of road safety and are familiar with local driving laws. Driving with an invalid licence can result in fines or other penalties.

Eligibility for Exchanging a Foreign Driving Licence

Before diving into the steps, it’s essential to understand whether you are eligible to exchange your licence:

  • EU/EFTA Nationals: Licences from EU/EFTA countries can be exchanged without a driving test within the first 12 months of residence.
  • Non-EU/EFTA Nationals: Licences from non-EU/EFTA countries may require a driving test. This can be a control test (short test) or a full driving test, depending on the country of origin.

Steps to Exchange Your Foreign Driving Licence

1. Prepare the Necessary Documents

Before heading to the local authority, gather all required documents. Typically, you will need:

  • Original Driving Licence: Your current valid foreign driving licence.
  • Residence Permit: Proof of residence in Switzerland (e.g., B permit, L permit).
  • Passport-sized Photographs: Recent photos that meet Swiss ID requirements.
  • Vision Test Certificate: Conducted by a certified Swiss optician.
  • Application Form: Available at your local Strassenverkehrsamt (Road Traffic Office).

2. Complete a Vision Test

In Switzerland, a vision test is mandatory for exchanging a driving licence. Visit a certified optician to complete the test and obtain the necessary certificate.

3. Submit Your Application

Take your documents to the local Road Traffic Office (Strassenverkehrsamt) in your canton. You can find your local office on the Strassenverkehrsamt website. Submit your application form along with all supporting documents.

4. Pay the Fees

There are fees associated with exchanging a foreign driving licence. These vary by canton but typically range from CHF 50 to CHF 100. Ensure you pay the applicable fees during your application submission.

5. Driving Test (if required)

For non-EU/EFTA nationals, you may be required to pass a driving test. This could be a control test or a full driving test, depending on your country of origin. The control test is shorter and focuses on essential driving skills. If you fail this test, you may need to take a full driving test.

What to Expect During the Driving Test

If you’re required to take a driving test, here’s what to expect:

  • Control Test: Lasts about 30 minutes and covers basic driving skills, such as parking, lane changes, and adherence to traffic rules.
  • Full Driving Test: More comprehensive and includes highway driving, city driving, and various maneuvers.

Make sure you practice driving in Switzerland and familiarize yourself with local road signs and regulations. You can also take a few driving lessons from a local driving school to increase your chances of passing.

Tips for a Smooth Licence Exchange Process

  1. Start Early: Begin the process well before your 12-month deadline to avoid any complications.
  2. Ensure Document Accuracy: Double-check that all your documents are accurate and complete.
  3. Stay Informed: Regulations may vary slightly by canton, so check with your local Road Traffic Office for specific requirements.
  4. Seek Assistance: If you’re unsure about any part of the process, consider seeking help from relocation experts or your local community.

Real-Life Cases of Exchanging a Driving Licence in Switzerland

Case 1: Maria from Italy

Maria moved to Basel for a new job and needed to exchange her Italian driving licence. As an EU citizen, she didn’t require a driving test. She visited a certified optician for her vision test and submitted her documents at the Basel Strassenverkehrsamt. Within a few weeks, she received her Swiss driving licence without any hassle.

Case 2: John from the USA

John, an expatriate from the USA, faced a more complex process. His American licence required him to take a control test. John practiced driving with a local instructor and familiarized himself with Swiss traffic laws. He passed the control test on his first attempt and successfully exchanged his licence.

Additional Services from a Moving Company in Basel

Navigating bureaucratic processes can be challenging, especially when you’re also dealing with the logistics of moving. This is where a professional moving company in Basel like Classic Umzüge can make a significant difference. Our services include:

  • Comprehensive Packing and Unpacking: We handle all your packing and unpacking needs, allowing you to focus on other tasks.
  • Secure Transportation: Using modern, well-maintained vehicles, we ensure your belongings arrive safely at your new home.
  • Storage Solutions: If you need temporary storage for your items, we offer secure and flexible options.
  • Specialized Moves: We take care of delicate items, such as antiques or large furniture, with utmost care.

FAQs on Exchanging a Foreign Driving Licence in Switzerland

  • How long can I drive with my foreign licence in Switzerland? You can drive with your foreign licence for up to 12 months. After that, you must exchange it for a Swiss licence.
  • Do I need to take a driving test? It depends on your country of origin. EU/EFTA nationals generally do not need a test, while non-EU/EFTA nationals may need to take a control or full driving test.
  • What documents are required? You will need your original driving licence, residence permit, passport-sized photographs, a vision test certificate, and the completed application form.
  • How much does it cost to exchange a driving licence? Fees vary by canton but typically range from CHF 50 to CHF 100.
  • Where do I submit my application? Applications are submitted to the local Road Traffic Office (Strassenverkehrsamt) in your canton. Check the Strassenverkehrsamt website for your local office.

To Conclude on Exchanging a Foreign Driving Licence in Switzerland

Exchanging your foreign driving licence in Switzerland is a crucial step in your relocation process. Understanding the requirements and following the correct procedures will ensure a smooth transition. By preparing your documents, completing necessary tests, and submitting your application on time, you can avoid any legal issues and continue to enjoy driving in your new home.

If you need assistance with your move, our moving company in Basel Classic Umzüge is here to help. Send us an inquiry, and we will send you a free moving quote without obligation. Let us make your transition to Basel as seamless as possible.


Moving to a new country involves numerous challenges, but with the right information and support, you can navigate the process successfully. We hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights into exchanging your driving licence and the services available to assist with your move. Welcome to Basel!

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