10 Steps to A Swiss Driver’s License

I am often contacted with enquiries about the different steps needed when applying for a Swiss Driver’s or Driving License. I therefore did a lot of research and compiled a list of 10 steps plus some additional information to make this process a little easier.

  1. Nothelferkurs – Nothilfekurs – First Aid Course for the Swiss Driver’s License
  2. Apply for Your Learner’s License
    • Pick up an application form from your local community, a police station or the road traffic office of your canton, or download it from the road traffic office’s website.
    • Take an eyesight test at an authorised optician. A list of authorised opticians is available online from your road traffic office. The eyesight test is only valid for 2 years.
    • For a first time application, you must personally hand in all the documents at either your local community or the road traffic office.
    • You must also bring the following documents when handing in your application form:
      • your ID (if you are non-Swiss, you must also bring your original Swiss residence permit)
      • Bring 2 passport photos. Note: some cantons require 3 passport photos.
      • Don’t forget your first aid certificate, which may not be older than 6 years.
    • Once all documents are handed in, you will receive a registration letter to sign up for the theory test.

    Note: You can only start the application process 1 to 2 months before your 18th birthday.

  3. Take the Basic Theory Test
    • The basic theory test can only be taken the earliest one month before your 18th birthday and is valid for 2 years. The fee for the theory test is approx. CHF 30 and will be invoiced.
    • Usually, the questions are answered at a computer and the answers are evaluated immediately afterwards.
    • You must bring the following document to the theory test:
      • ID (passport and foreigners also residence permit)

    Note: If you fail to present both these documents, you will not be allowed to take the test.

You can study for the basic theory test using CDs or apps. The CD “CH-Fahrschule”, available online, at driving schools and bookshops, allows you to practise official test questions in 9 languages (German, French, Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Serbo-Croatian and Albanian) and costs approx. CHF 70.
Not all cantons allow you to take the basic theory test in English. If you canton does not offer the test in your language, you can ask to transfer your basic theory test to a canton that offers it.
The following cantons allow you to take the basic theory test in English: ZH, TG, GE (list not complete).

    • Once you have passed the theory test, the learner’s license is mailed within 3 working days.
    • If you don’t pass the theory test first time round, you will receive a new permit afterwards. A period of minimum 14 days must lie between a failed theory test and a new attempt.
    • You can only apply for the theory test once you have applied for the learner’s license
  4. Your Learner’s License
    • Once you have passed the basic theory test, your learner’s license and the permit for the practical test will be mailed to you.
    • The Learner’s License has a limited validity of 24 months. It expires after that time or if you failed the practical test three times in that period.
  5. Take Practical Lessons (of course) and Get Lots of Driving Experience
    • Your Learner’s License allows you to drive when accompanied by a person who is at least 23 years old and has had a category B driver’s license for at least 3 years.
  6. Verkehrskundeunterricht (Road Awareness Theory classes) You can take the Road Awareness Theory classes any time before your practical driving test. You must attend all eight 90-minute lectures.Note: the Road Awareness Theory classes are valid for 24 months and may only be taken after you have passed you basic theory test and you have been issued your Learner’s License.
    • Road Awareness Theory classes are divided into four components
      • Traffic View – understanding dangers of road traffic, functioning of the five senses, visual techniques for drivers)
      • Traffic Environment – other road users, understanding roads, weather and road conditions and time of day)
      • Traffic Dynamics – car safety, basic forces while driving, understanding moving and driving in road traffic)
      • Traffic Tactics – driving ability, eco-driving, looking ahead, vehicle maintenance

    Detailed explanations of the four components HERE.

Most driving instructors only offer them in the local language. There is one driving school in Zürich that offers the option to book them in English as a private session. The Driving School is called Mannard

  7. Take The Practical Test
    • You will be assessed by an expert from the road traffic department. When you pass, you will receive a provisional license, which is valid for 3 years during which you must participate in the mandatory further education classes required to receive the final license.
    • You will be assessed on the following:
      • Motor vehicle drivers must have the ability and demonstrate behaviour that allows them at all times to:
        • control their vehicle and thus avoid dangerous traffic situations or react appropriately should such a situation arise.
        • observe and follow road regulations, in particular those that help avoiding accidents and ensuring smooth traffic flow.
        • contribute to the safety of all traffic participants through considerate and thoughtful behaviour, in particular towards weaker traffic participants.
        • drive economically and environmentally friendly.

    Note: If you fail the practical test a second time, you need to provide a letter from the driving instructor that you are capable of driving. Failing a third time means you must pass an aptitude test before being allowed to try again.

  8. Provisional License (2-Phase-Training)
    • After having passed your practical driving test, you will be awarded a “Provisional License”. The probation period is 3 years.
    • In order to be granted to full license, you must attend the compulsory further education classes and you are subject to a stricter penalty regime.
      • The probation period will be extended by 1 year if your driver’s license is revoked.
      • A second revocation leads to the annulment of your Learner’s License and you must start the application process from the beginning. Furthermore, you are subject to a psychological assessment. A new license can only be awarded minimum 1 year after the revocation.
  9. Compulsory Further Education
    • Within the 3-year probation period you must participate in further education courses.
    • Aim of these courses is to learn to avoid dangerous traffic situations. The courses are run as group trainings and are offered by accredited providers. Duration of these courses is 16 hours split over 2 days. The course fee should equal the fee of approx. 8 driving lessons.
    • The first course day should be taken within 6 months of being awarded the Learner’s License. It is a theoretical course and addresses the new driver’s abilities and the dealing with risks. Using accident statistics the new driver learns different accident causes, criminal liability, financial and social consequences of accidents.
    • The second course day is in the form of a feedback driving session, where you will be accompanied by a moderator and other course participants. Feedback is offered by the moderator and the other course participants. This second course day also deepens the understanding for economical and environmentally friendly driving.
    • The consequences when not participating in the compulsory further education courses are that you will not be awarded a full driver’s license. In case of illness or other serious circumstances, a grace period of 3 months is offered.
  10. Full Driver’s License
    • After attending the 2 compulsory further education courses and if you were not involved in any traffic incidences during your probation period, you can apply for a full Driver’s License.

You can also download this information as a pdf file from our downloads page.

While we have made every effort to provide you with the most-up-to-date and correct information, we cannot guarantee that the information is up to date, correct or complete.

Posted on April 30, 2014 by Luitgard Holzleg

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