Swiss Citizenship

Another student guest blog on citizenship laws in Europe – this one on Switzerland.

Unlike the majority of the policies and traditions in Switzerland, the attainment of citizenship is relatively straightforward. There are three paths that can be taken: birth, naturalization and marriage.

Picture from the article “”Tax Law Pushes US Expats to Give Up Passport” (see references)

Citizenship through birth is based upon the premise of “jus sanguinis, or law of the blood”. Unlike many countries, birth in Switzerland does not grant automatic citizenship. In order for citizenship to be given at birth, one of the following situations must be present:

1. Married parents – one of whom is Swiss,

2. Unmarried parents with the mother being a Swiss native or

3. Unmarried parents with the father being a Swiss native. This third method, however, requires that the father acknowledge the birth of the child before the age of 22 for citizenship to occur. This is a relatively new alteration to the law, whereas a child born to a male native out of wedlock would not be granted citizenship prior to January 1, 2006.

In order to apply for citizenship through the naturalization process, the individual must live in Switzerland for a total of 12 years. Three of the total years lived in the country must be within the five years leading up to the application for citizenship. For children between the ages of 10 and 20, each year towards naturalization counts as double. Therefore, children within this age range can potentially gain citizenship twice as fast as their parents.

The process of citizenship through marriage is rather a sped up and facilitated process of naturalization. Instead of the mandatory 12 years of living in Switzerland before applying for citizenship, a married individual only needs to live in the country for six years. Other than the process being faster, it is essentially the same as the naturalization process and simply requires time and an active role in society.

Once the basic requirements are met, one can apply for the naturalization through the proper channel pertaining to their needs. In analyzing the applicant’s suitability for becoming a citizen, they greatly look into their activity within Swiss society, whether they pose a threat to external or internal security of the state, and that the individual complies with Swiss law. Ultimately, if all of these accounts are met, the individual is usually granted citizenship.

As time goes on, the percentage of the Swiss population is becoming increasingly more diverse, with only 25% of people now being a Swiss-born individual. Ultimately, the greatest barrier to citizenship is simply the object of time. Once an individual immerses themself into society for the specified waiting period to become a native, the remaining citizenship requirements will tend to fall into place.


“A First Hand Account of a Brazilian Woman Seeking Swiss Citizenship” Swiss Info – Internal Affairs. Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, 30 May 2008. Web. 8 Apr. 2012.

Andrews, James. “How to Apply for Swiss Citizenship.” Immigration and Naturalization. EHow, n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 2012.

“Are there birth-rights in Switzerland?.” Living and Investing in Switzerland. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 2012.

“Becoming a Citizen.” Swiss Info: How to – Politics. Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 2012.

“Regular Naturalisation.” Schweizerische Eidgenossenshaft. Federal Department of Justice and Police, n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2012.

“Residency Permits in Switzerland.” Anglo Info: The Global Expat Network. AngloInfo, n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 2012.

“Swiss Nationality.” Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 2012.

“Swiss citizenship.” Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft. Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2012.

“Tax Law Pushes US Expats to Give Up Passport- swissinfo.” Swiss Info – Expat Woes. Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 2012.



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