Swiss citizenship For Members

Reader question: Can I apply for Swiss citizenship from abroad?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Reader question: Can I apply for Swiss citizenship from abroad?
Applying for Swiss citizenship from abroad is not a simple procedure. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Seeking naturalisation is a complicated enough process when you live in Switzerland. It is even more so when doing this from a foreign country. But the good news is: it is not impossible.


There are three scenarios under which you are eligible to seek Swiss citizenship while living in another country: you married a Swiss citizen, you were born to Swiss parent(s), or were adopted by Swiss parent(s).

While you qualify to obtain Swiss nationality in each of these cases, the conditions vary.

Let's have. look at each.

Marrying a Swiss

If you are a foreign national who weds a Swiss citizen while living abroad, you can benefit from a fast-track, or ‘simplified’ naturalisation process, just as people living in Switzerland do.

READ ALSO: Five ways you can fast-track your route to Swiss citizenship

However, this process is neither fast or simple.

First, you must contact the Swiss embassy or consulate in the country in which the marriage took place and request that the union be recognised. 

You will have to provide all relevant documents, such as your marriage license and anything else that is needed for the process to be completed.

The diplomatic mission will check the accuracy of the documents, notorise them, and translate them into one of Switzerland’s official languages (unless they are already in German, French, or Italian).

This, however, is only the first step, with many more ahead.

The mere fact of having married a Swiss citizen is not enough to ‘merit’ a Swiss nationality.

Your application for naturalisation should be submitted to a Swiss embassy or consulate but, even though you reside abroad, you must prove that:

  • You are married at least  six years Swiss spouse 
  • You have close ties with Switzerland; this means you have stayed in Switzerland at least three times for a minimum of five days each time during the six years preceding the filing of the application
  • You are able to engage in everyday spoken communication in a national language
  • You have a basic knowledge of Switzerland’s geographical, historical, political, and social particularities, and
  • You maintain contacts with Swiss people (and not just your spouse).


You were born to Swiss parents in a foreign country and still live abroad

If you are a child of Swiss parent(s), they must notify Swiss authorities in their country of residency of your birth before you turn 25.

Why is this important?

Under Swiss law, "a child born abroad who has another citizenship and at least one of whose parents is Swiss loses their Swiss citizenship upon reaching the age of 25 unless a Swiss authority abroad or in Switzerland is notified of their birth by their 25th birthday or if they have declared in writing that they wish to retain Swiss citizenship".

What this means is that Swiss parents should notify Switzerland’s embassy or consulate in their country of residence of the birth of their child to ensure the child’s citizenship is not revoked after they turn 25.

Now, if for whatever reason they haven’t done so, it is up to you to take this action via a Swiss embassy or consulate, before your 25th birthday.


What about babies adapted abroad by Swiss parent(s)?

A similar system is also in place for Swiss parents who adapt a baby abroad  — he or she will be Swiss as well, as long as the child was under the age of 18 when adopted, and the 25-year mark is respected.

You can find a Swiss embassy or consulate at this link.



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