Obtaining Swiss nationality

I am of Swiss ancestry. How can I claim Swiss citizenship?

If you had Swiss citizenship at birth in addition to a foreign nationality, you must register your desire to keep this citizenship before you are 22. If you have missed this deadline, you may apply to have your Swiss citizenship restored, but must do this within 10 years.

If you fail to register with the competent authorities before this time, you may under certain conditions apply for your citizenship to be reinstated.

To recover your Swiss citizenship, you must prove a close connection with Switzerland.

Can I pass my Swiss citizenship on to my children?

Children with one Swiss parent are automatically born Swiss if the parents are married. They are also automatically Swiss if their mother is Swiss, even if she is not married to the father.

Since January 1st 2006, the child of a Swiss father who is not married to the mother can become Swiss if the father recognises him/her before the age of majority, or if a paternity suit has been recognised.

In other cases the child may make an application for naturalisation up until his/her 22nd birthday. It is necessary to prove close ties with Switzerland, including lengthy periods of residence.

After the age of 22, he/she is treated no differently from any other foreigner applying for naturalisation.

Am I eligible for Swiss nationality?

If you have been resident in Switzerland for 12 years you may apply for naturalisation. Years spent in Switzerland between the ages of 10 and 20 count as double.

Foreigners married to Swiss citizens can apply for facilitated naturalisation. You must have been in a stable marriage for at least three years, and have lived in Switzerland for a total of five years. The last 12 months must have been spent entirely in Switzerland. Like all applicants, foreign spouses must show that they are well integrated into the Swiss way of life.

The initial application is examined by the Federal Office for Migration, but both the canton and commune of residence have their own requirements. The fee payable also varies according to the place of residence.

The final decision is taken by the commune in which you are resident. In some places this decision is taken by a panel, in others by a popular vote of all citizens of the commune.

How do I acquire Swiss citizenship?

In addition to naturalisation and adoption (for minors only), Swiss citizenship can also be obtained by descent. Acquiring nationality by descent from the father or mother is referred to as “ius sanguinis”, and this law is also applicable in for example Germany and Austria. In other countries including the United States, Canada and Australia, nationality is acquired by “ius soli”, based on the country in which you are born.