Switzerland Citizenship: The Complete Guide for 2022

The Complete Guide for 2022 Switzerland has long been known as one of the best countries in the world to live and work, especially when it comes to your quality of life. With health care, education, and transportation (to name just a few) all covered by the government, you can focus on your goals and ambitions without having to worry about the day-to-day necessities of life. And while the Swiss people themselves are known to be extremely hard-working and industrious, they also enjoy their relaxation time with family, friends, and favorite sports.

Switzerland Citizenship: The Complete Guide for 2022

Some countries, like the United States, allow only US citizens to run for office in local elections, while others, like the United Kingdom, allow only British citizens to run for parliament and other national offices. In the country of Switzerland, however, they take things one step further and even restrict who can become a citizen of their country. However, thanks to the Swiss system of jus sanguinis (or right of blood), it’s possible for an individual to have a shot at becoming a citizen of Switzerland by being born into it or having at least one parent who was born in Switzerland.

The Swiss government has recently changed the requirements to become a citizen of Switzerland, and we’ve written this guide to help you understand what exactly you need to do in order to make your life in Switzerland easier and less stressful.

Introduction to Swiss citizenship

If you’re looking to become a citizen of Switzerland, you’ll need to apply through one of three different routes: through 1) immediate family relations (i.e., marrying a Swiss national), 2) naturalization or 3) political asylum.

While these are distinct processes and each with its own requirements, one thing that unites them is that Switzerland is extremely protective of its citizenship status and has very strict laws regarding dual citizenship as well as expatriation. Before we get into specifics on how to apply for Swiss citizenship, let’s take a look at some basic information about acquiring it.

Requirements for Swiss citizenship depend on your nationality and personal circumstances. Foreigners typically qualify for Swiss citizenship after 10 years of residence (recently reduced from 12). The paths to citizenship in Switzerland are generally through one of the following:

  • being a child – by birth or adoption – of a Swiss citizen
  • marriage to a Swiss citizen
  • naturalization after living in the country for 10 years (years between the ages of 8 and 18 counts as double)

A new Swiss Citizenship Act came into force in 2018 making it harder to acquire Swiss citizenship. The most notable change was that applicants need to hold a settlement C residence permit to qualify.

Certain cantons may have their own specific requirements for integration into Swiss society. Enquire with your local cantonal authority for full criteria.

Swiss citizenship benefits

There are some benefits of becoming a Swiss citizen, including:

  • the right to reside in Switzerland even if you spend a period of time living elsewhere
  • right to vote in Swiss elections and stand for public office
  • the right to a Swiss passport, which is ranked third on the passport power index with visa-free access to over 150 countries.

However, there are also obligations with Swiss citizenship. One of these is mandatory military service if you’re an able-bodied male adult.

Citizenship by birth or descent in Switzerland

A person is a Swiss citizen if at least one parent is a Swiss citizen. A child becomes a Swiss citizen at birth if both parents are unknown, and at least one of them has resided in Switzerland or in an adjacent state for 10 years after their 18th birthday, or five years after his 16th birthday if he has exercised parental authority over his minor siblings.

For citizenship by descent to apply, both parents must be citizens of Switzerland; only one parent can be a foreign national. Note that dual nationality with another country is not permitted under Swiss law; anyone seeking to become naturalized as a Swiss citizen will have to relinquish his previous nationality (except in cases where doing so would result in statelessness).

Getting citizenship by naturalization in Switzerland

Switzerland has a very high standard to apply for naturalization as a Swiss citizen. Switzerland is one of six European countries whose citizenship laws do not allow dual citizenship in most cases, so you must choose between your old and new nationality at some point after you acquire Swiss citizenship (you can retain your original nationality if it is also permitted by that country).

You may be required to renounce your previous nationality if you wish to become a naturalized citizen of Switzerland. In general, you must have lived in Switzerland as a permanent resident for 12 years before applying. You will need to prove that you have adequate basic knowledge of one of Switzerland's official languages—German, French or Italian—to become a citizen and take an exam on Swiss history and politics.

The child will be Swiss if he/she is:

  • the offspring of married parents, one of whom is Swiss
  • born to an unmarried Swiss mother
  • born to an unmarried Swiss father, if the paternity is acknowledged before the age of 22
  • a foreign child under 22 years old who was not included in the naturalization of a parent and has lived in Switzerland for five years, including one year immediately prior to the application
  • a child of a parent who lost their Swiss citizenship but can show close ties to Switzerland. Read more on renaturalization

How to apply for citizenship through birth or descent

If you meet the criteria to apply for citizenship in Switzerland through birth or descent, you will qualify for the simplified naturalization process. The exact process for this will depend on your canton.

The application can take up to 12 months to process and can be done either through the SEM or your local canton. In addition to meeting the birth/descent criteria, you will need to show proof of:

  • having close ties with Switzerland (spending time in the country, speaking the local language, basic knowledge of Swiss society)
  • showing respect for public security, public order, and Swiss values.

You will need to submit an application form along with various declarations and questionnaires to demonstrate your eligibility. The application fee is currently CHF 600 for adults. Children under 18 can apply for free unless they are making the application on the grounds of the applicant having a Swiss father not married to the mother. In this case, the fee is CHF 350.

You can find full information on the Swiss government website on how to apply for citizenship as a child of married parents or an unmarried mother and as a child of an unmarried Swiss father.

Getting citizenship by marriage in Switzerland

In most cases, you and your spouse must have been married for at least 2 years before filing a joint application. If you are filing a joint application together and are currently divorced, then there is no minimum marriage duration requirement. However, if your divorce hasn’t been finalized, but your divorce date is close to when you plan on filing then you should provide supporting documents such as current proof of status from all countries involved (US or Germany), death certificate from any previous marriages that were dissolved or nullified (if any), etc.

In order to be eligible to obtain citizenship by marriage in Switzerland both partners must agree that they will live in Switzerland with their family. However, if one of the partners is not willing to move with their children then it could adversely affect their application.

Requirements for citizenship

The additional requirements for citizenship through regular naturalization in Switzerland at the federal level are:

  • knowledge of a Swiss national language spoken to B1 level and written to A2 level (introduced as part of the 2018 Swiss Citizenship Act)
  • integration into Swiss life and familiarity with Swiss customs
  • compliance with Swiss rule of law
  • posing no danger to Switzerland’s internal or external security
  • no period spent on social welfare benefits within the past three years, unless you give back the amount received.

How to apply for citizenship through naturalization

The application process, fees, and processing time varies across the Swiss cantons and communes. Typically it takes over a year and can cost over CHF 1,000. This is because of the multi-stage process.

You need to make your application through your local canton or commune. The exact process depends on the laws within your canton. Contact your cantonal naturalization authority for information or see here to find the addresses of federal, cantonal, and communal authorities in Switzerland.

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You will need to submit:

  • application form (available through your cantonal naturalization authority)
  • proof of C residence permit
  • proof of language proficiency acquired from a registered language school in Switzerland

Additional documents will depend on your Swiss canton or commune.

Citizenship by adoption in Switzerland

As a general rule, only children under 16 are adopted in Switzerland. And non-adopted adult siblings and half-siblings cannot get Swiss citizenship by virtue of their relationship with an adopted sibling. Both adopted and non-adopted family members are eligible to apply for naturalization after at least 12 years of legal residency in Switzerland (including at least six uninterrupted years).

Applicants must also have no criminal record, be able to support themselves financially and show a basic understanding of written and spoken German. Both parents can apply together if they're married or living together. If you’re not married to your partner, then each parent needs to file separately; both need to have lived in Switzerland legally since 2001, including at least six uninterrupted years immediately prior to filing.

Getting citizenship as a refugee in Switzerland

Since 2005, if you are a stateless person and have been living in Switzerland or a Schengen country since 2013, it’s possible to apply for citizenship as a refugee. To qualify as a refugee, you will need to prove that you have no nationality and that returning to your home country is not an option. For most people who live in Switzerland, they can apply after five years.

There are also other requirements that must be met such as being able to speak one of Switzerland’s official languages (either German or French) at an intermediate level and having enough income to support yourself without needing social benefits. It usually takes between two and three years to become naturalized in Switzerland after you apply, but it can take longer depending on your situation.

Exceptions and special cases for citizenship in Switzerland

In order to apply for citizenship in Switzerland, you must have been married and lived in Switzerland with your Swiss spouse during at least 12 of 15 years before your application. Children born in Switzerland automatically receive citizenship from their parents. There are additional exceptions and special cases as well, depending on marital status and length of time spent living there.

More information about exceptions and special cases can be found here . This does not include a full list; you should contact a Swiss consulate or migration office to ask about whether you qualify based on your situation and how to go about applying (and paying) for citizenship. Read more...

Dual nationality in Switzerland

There are a few requirements you have to fulfil in order to get Swiss dual nationality. To start with, Switzerland has an active citizenship law that makes it possible for foreigners to obtain a Swiss passport in a quick and easy way. For example, some foreign nationals may be granted dual citizenship if they fulfill certain requirements such as being permanent residents of Switzerland and having proficiency in one of Switzerland’s national languages.

But there are several other factors that will come into play during your application process. This guide covers everything you need to know about getting dual nationality through naturalization in Switzerland including how to apply, which criteria you have to fulfill and what are some important things you need to keep in mind before making your final decision on whether or not you should go ahead with it!

Losing or renouncing citizenship in Switzerland

Swiss citizenship can be lost or renounced in two ways. If you were born in Switzerland, are a Swiss citizen and you gain another nationality, then your Swiss citizenship will automatically be lost. You can also lose your Swiss citizenship if you manifestly choose to give it up.

In order to do so, you must complete an official declaration of loss before an official in one of Switzerland's embassies abroad or at one of its border crossings (for example, at Geneva airport).

Citizenship appeals and complaints in Switzerland

If you’re refused a Swiss passport and you think that decision was unfair, you can lodge an appeal with one of four special courts that hear citizenship appeals. All government administrative decisions are subject to judicial review in Switzerland, so if your appeal is rejected by one of these courts, you can take it to a higher court.

You can also submit a complaint about an authority’s failure to enforce its own laws – for example, about how long your application has been pending. A full list of relevant laws and official documents is on page 38 of the free guide ‘10 things every foreigner needs to know about moving to Switzerland’. If your complaint isn’t satisfactorily resolved by government authorities, you may have grounds for taking further legal action.


Switzerland is a popular destination among wealthy individuals around the world who are looking to get double passports and move their families to a safe and secure location. If you wish to live in Switzerland, you can apply for citizenship starting in 2022 and receive your papers sometime in 2023.

Applying to become a citizen of Switzerland should be a long-term goal, as it will take time for all documents to clear properly before you can actually become eligible for citizenship. When your family is ready to move, work with an experienced immigration professional who understands Swiss immigration law and how it relates to new citizens from other countries. Good Luck!!!