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I want to change my old Swiss driving licence. What do I do?
Question: I have been living abroad for many years outside the EU/EFTA area and have now learned that Switzerland’s old blue paper driving licence will no longer be valid after 31 January 2024. It must be changed into a driving licence in credit card format, apparently. Neither the Swiss consulate nor my road traffic office in Switzerland were able to assist me. Surely there should be a way for Swiss Abroad to avoid losing their old Swiss driving licence. What can I do?
Answer: That’s right, the old blue paper driving licence will no longer be valid from February 2024. As it stands, you can no longer swap your old driving licence either. The reason is as follows:
From the date on which you begin residing abroad, the Swiss authorities can no longer issue you with a new driving licence in credit card format, nor can they provide you with an international driving licence. When you are domiciled abroad, it is the authorities of your country of residence that have authority with regard to your driving licence rather than Switzerland. This is based on the principle of territoriality, whereby you are subject to the legal system of the country in which you reside. This also applies to the area of road traffic, which is also governed by the law of your country of residence.
The cantonal road traffic authority that issued your driving licence can only provide you with an attestation stating that you are the holder of a Swiss driving licence. This attestation certifies that you have obtained a driving licence based on the conditions stipulated by Swiss law. You will then have to inquire with the authorities responsible in your country of residence as to which conditions have to be met for a driving licence to be issued to you (confirmation of the information contained in the attestation, driving test, etc.).
Should you take up residence in Switzerland again later, you must get in touch with your cantonal road traffic authority in order to obtain a driving licence in credit card format. For the contact details of the cantonal road traffic authorities, visit: strassenverkehrsamt.ch