Second Citizenship
March 10, 2017
Reading Time: 7 min

How to get citizenship in Switzerland

Obtaining Swiss citizenship is difficult. To get a passport, the applicant must permanently live in the country, speak and write fluently in one of the official languages, know the history and traditions, participate in public life, and comply with the laws.

We explain the requirements for Swiss citizenship, how long you need to live in the country and who can get a passport faster than others.

Zlata Erlach
Zlata Erlach

Told how to get Swiss citizenship

How to get Swiss citizenship

How to get citizenship in Switzerland

Swiss citizenship by naturalization

Naturalization is the process by which a foreigner obtains the citizenship of another country upon his voluntary application.

An applicant for Swiss citizenship must:

  • have lived in Switzerland for 10 years;

  • obtain a permanent residence permit;

  • demonstrate that he is familiar with the social foundations of Switzerland and has successfully integrated into Swiss society.

A passport is not issued automatically after 10 years of living in the country. A foreigner has the right to apply for citizenship, but the Swiss government has no obligation to grant it.

The Swiss Migration Service (SEM) decides whether to grant citizenship on a case-by-case basis. An application for citizenship must be approved at three levels: the federal, the cantonal level and the municipal level of a commune. A commune is an administrative unit within a canton: a city, a town, or a small area.

An application for citizenship is usually considered for two to three years.

The period of residing in the country for citizenship includes the time that the applicant lived in Switzerland with a residence permit. Temporary residence permits are issued for a year and must be renewed annually. One of the conditions for extending a residence permit is to live in Switzerland for at least 183 days a year.

Within five years before applying for citizenship, you must have lived in Switzerland for at least three years. In addition, the cantons establish minimum periods of residence in the canton and the commune in order to obtain citizenship. This means that one can not move to another canton and even to another city within a canton before applying for citizenship. The minimum residence period depends on the canton and ranges from two to five years.

A permanent residence permit can be obtained after ten years of living in Switzerland with a temporary residence permit. The status of permanent residence is valid indefinitely.

The holder of the permanent residence card can leave the country at any time. But the calendar year will not be included in the period of residence for obtaining citizenship if you live in the country for less than 183 days.

How to obtain Swiss citizenship

A scheme for obtaining Swiss citizenship on a general basis

Integration into society. The success of integration into Swiss society is judged by the criteria that are spelled out in the citizenship law. The applicant for citizenship must:

  • respect public safety and law and order;

  • respect the constitutional values ​​of Switzerland;

  • fluently speak and write in one of the official languages ​​of Switzerland: German, French, Italian or Swiss Romansh;

  • participate in economic life;

  • promote the integration of family members, e.g. a spouse and minor children.

Respect for public safety is manifested in the absence of incidents with the police, litigation, fines in Switzerland or the Schengen area.

Knowledge and respect for the constitutional values ​​of Switzerland is tested in the interview. The interview will also test knowledge of the history of Switzerland and the customs of the canton and commune. The Migration Service may ask the applicant for citizenship for recommendations from the indigenous inhabitants of the commune.

Swiss citizenship: you need to know the local traditions to get it. ‘Ca ival in Basel’

The traditional Fasnacht ca ival takes place in Basel annually in February or March for three days. This is the largest ca ival in Switzerland as every year it gathers thousands of participants and spectators

Knowledge of the language at a level not lower than B1 spoken and A2 written must be confirmed in order to obtain citizenship. The language depends on the canton in which the applicant lives.

Language proficiency can be confirmed by a certificate from an organization recognized by the Swiss Migration Board or by passing the FIDE language test. The cantons of Switzerland have the right to tighten the requirements for knowledge of the language.

A list of recognized certificates and details about the language proficiency test for citizenship can be found on the language website of the Swiss Migration Agency:

Minimum language proficiency requirements for obtaining Swiss citizenship

Spoken — B1

Written — A2

Understanding of the main ideas of clear sentences in the literary language at work, study, leisure

Ability to compose a coherent sentence on topics known or of particular interest

Ability to describe impressions, events, hopes, aspirations, state and justify your own opinion and plans for the future

Understanding of individual sentences and common expressions: basic information about yourself and your family members, purchases, employment

Ability to keep up a conversation on familiar or everyday topics

Ability to tell in simple terms about yourself, your family and friends, describe the main aspects of daily life

Participation in economic life is confirmed by income tax certificates, bank statements, property ownership documents and other documents that indicate the financial security of the applicant.

Switzerland has lawyers who specialize in immigration law. They help to prepare a package of documents for obtaining citizenship based on their experience and the characteristics of the canton.

Swiss citizenship requirements: a Swiss passport

“Swiss Passport” is written in English and the four official languages on the cover of a passport of Switzerland

A residence permit for citizenship in Switzerland

A temporary residence permit in Switzerland is issued for various purposes:

  • work under an invitation of a Swiss company;

  • opening a business;

  • moving to a spouse;

  • studying at a Swiss university.

Obtaining a residence permit in Switzerland is not connected with the purchase of real estate. Programs for obtaining a residence permit by investment in real estate operate in Portugal, Spain, Greece and Malta.

A residence permit for financially independent persons is issued for the payment of a flat lump-sum tax in Switzerland. The minimum tax is ₣450,000, or approximately €415,000.

To obtain a residence permit, you need to conclude a tax agreement with the government of the canton, a region of Switzerland. The applicant also undergoes Due Diligence and receives health insurance.

The amount of the lump-sum tax depends on the canton, so first you need to choose a place where you would like to live. The Canton of Zurich does not participate in the residence permit program for financially independent persons.

Swiss residence permit scheme for financially independent persons


Prepare a tax agreement with the Swiss authorities

The government of the canton where the applicant plans to live in Switzerland will determine the amount of a flat lump-sum tax for obtaining a residence permit.


Pass Due Diligence

It is necessary to confirm the legality of income, the absence of outstanding convictions. A residence permit may be refused if the applicant violated the visa rules of the Schengen countries or had problems with the authorities.


Obtain a visa and apply for a residence permit in Switzerland

Documents for a residence permit are submitted personally by the applicant to the municipality of the canton in which he plans to live.


Wait for approval and get a residence permit card in Switzerland

The residence permit is valid for 1 year with the possibility of extension. The residence permit is renewed if the applicant complies with the terms of the agreement with the canton.

A residence permit for work is issued if the applicant is invited to work for a Swiss company. Foreigners who are not citizens of the countries of the European Union or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) — Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, can only work as senior managers or highly qualified specialists.

The Migration Service will issue a residence permit with a work permit if the vacancy is not claimed by citizens of Switzerland, the European Union or EFTA.

Residence permit for starting a business. To obtain a residence permit for entrepreneurs, you need to draw up a detailed business plan, interest the cantonal government in it, conclude an investment agreement, open and run a business, and pay income and corporate taxes. If the business turns out to be unprofitable, then the residence permit may not be extended.

Residence permit for moving to a spouse. Upon marriage to a Swiss citizen, a foreigner is issued a residence permit with the right to work in Switzerland.

Student residence permit is obtained for the period of study in Switzerland. It can not be extended after graduation. Such a residence permit is not suitable for naturalization, because the time of study is not taken into account in the period of life in the country for obtaining citizenship.

Residence permit in Switzerland for students. Zurich

ETH Zurich is ranked among the best universities in the world, ranking eighth in the QS World University Rankings 2022. ETH graduates are valued at the level of graduates of the MIT, Stanford and Cambridge

Conditions for obtaining a residence permit in Switzerland for financially independent persons

Residence permit for the payment of a lump-sum tax is issued without the right to work or conduct business in Switzerland. A family can be included in the application for a residence permit: a spouse and children under 18 years of age. The applicant must pass Due Diligence.

A Swiss residence permit for financially independent people can be obtained by a person who:

  • has no outstanding convictions;

  • confirmed the legitimacy of income;

  • has never violated the visa regime of the Schengen countries;

  • had no problems with the police in Europe.

To renew the residence permit, the holder must live in Switzerland for at least 183 days a year. In this case, a year in resident status will be counted when obtaining permanent residence and citizenship.

Individual cost calculation of the Switzerland Residence Permit

Individual cost calculation of the Switzerland Residence Permit

Citizenship of Switzerland by marriage

For the spouses of Swiss citizens, there is a simplified procedure for obtaining a residence permit and citizenship. Marriage to a Swiss citizen is the basis for obtaining a temporary residence permit with the right to work.

You can apply for citizenship after five years of living in Switzerland, and not ten as in the general case. Reducing the length of stay in the country to obtain citizenship is the only relief. The applicant will need to prove that he has integrated into society.

The Swiss authorities are fighting fictitious marriages, so social services check whether spouses live together. To obtain citizenship on preferential terms, you must have been married to a Swiss citizen for at least three years.

Swiss citizenship for children

A child acquires Swiss citizenship automatically if:

  • the child’s parents are legally married, live in Switzerland and one of the parents is a Swiss citizen;

  • the child’s parents are not officially married and the child’s mother is a Swiss citizen.

If the child was born out of wedlock and moves to Switzerland with father, then the father must formalize the adoption in order to obtain citizenship. Children of Swiss citizens receive citizenship automatically.

For children between the ages of 8 and 18, a year of life in Switzerland counts as two when obtaining citizenship. The child must have lived in Switzerland for at least six years. Studying in Switzerland is evidence of successful integration, so studying in a Swiss school or in a bond increases the chances of obtaining citizenship.

How to get a residence permit for Swiss citizenship and not pay a lump-sum tax

Citizens of the EU countries and Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein can freely live in Switzerland: they are issued a residence permit upon application to the migration service. In order to live in Switzerland and not pay a lump-sum tax, you can get a passport from one of the EU countries, e.g. Maltese citizenship for exceptional services by direct investment.

Similar benefits are provided by the citizenship of other European countries, e.g. Malta, Portugal, Greece. The passports of these states allow you to travel to more than 180 countries, as well as live, work and study in Switzerland or another Schengen or EU country.

Immigrant Invest is an official representative of residence permit and permanent residence programs in EU countries, a licensed agent of Maltese citizenship for exceptional services. We help investors obtain new statuses that allow them to freely travel and move to Europe.

An investor can obtain a residence permit in Portugal for an investment of €250,000 and obtain citizenship in five years. To extend the status of a residence permit, you need to spend 7 days a year in Portugal.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for citizenship and residence by investment programs in the EU, the Caribbean, Asia, and the Middle East. Take advantage of our global 15-year expertise — schedule a meeting with our investment programs experts.

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Frequently asked questions

  • What are the benefits of a Swiss passport?

    The Swiss passport is a document that guarantees visa-free entry to 186 countries. Among them are the Schengen countries and the USA. Swiss citizens can freely live and work in the EU countries, and their children can study in European universities. Switzerland is a safe country. According to, Zurich ranks fifth in the world for security, while Be and Basel rank twelfth and fifteenth.

  • How to get Swiss citizenship?

    Swiss citizenship can only be obtained by birth and naturalization. To do this, you need to apply for a residence permit and live in the country for at least 10 years. Only after that, is an application for citizenship submitted. For those who acquire Swiss citizenship through marriage, the naturalization procedure has been simplified. The period of compulsory residence in the country has been reduced. The applicant must:

    1. Live in Switzerland for at least 5 years with a residence permit or permanent residence status.

    2. Living together with a spouse in the same house for more than 3 years.

    3. Live permanently in the country for 1 year before applying, do not travel outside of it.

    A child can obtain Swiss citizenship if:

    • one of the parents, who are officially married, is a citizen of Switzerland;

    • they were born out of wedlock, but their mother is a Swiss citizen. If the Swiss father, he must recognize the relationship and adopt the child;

    • they were adopted by a Swiss family before he came of age.

  • Under what conditions can a foreigner apply for Swiss citizenship?

    To obtain Swiss citizenship, an immigrant must live in the country for 10 years and have a permanent residence permit. Permanent residence can be obtained after ten years of living in a country with a residence permit. A temporary residence permit must be renewed every year. If a foreigner has received a residence permit for financially independent persons, he must pay a lump-sum tax annually. Residence permit in Switzerland for financially independent persons can be obtained in 6 months. The tax amount is fixed, depends on the specific canton and is calculated individually. The minimum tax amount is ₣450,000 per year.

  • How to get Swiss citizenship with residence permit status?

    If you have a residence permit in Switzerland, then after 10 years you can apply for citizenship. To do this, you must fulfill several conditions:

    1. Be over 18 years old.

    2. Permanently reside in the country for at least 183 days a year.

    3. Have been in Switzerland for 36 months in the last 5 years before applying.

    4. Have no criminal record.

    5. Confirm the legitimacy of income.

    The application for citizenship can include the whole family: husband, wife and children under 18 years of age.

  • Is it possible to expedite the acquisition of Swiss citizenship?

    It is impossible to accelerate the acquisition of Swiss citizenship, but it is possible to simplify obtaining a residence permit. Citizens of EU countries can freely live in Switzerland: they are issued a residence permit upon application, the procedure is formal.