Swiss citizenship For Members

Why young people born in Switzerland can be denied citizenship

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Why young people born in Switzerland can be denied citizenship
Swiss or just born in Switzerland? Photo by BORIS HORVAT / AFP

If you are expecting a child in Switzerland and look forward to him or her receiving the Swiss passport, you may be disappointed — they may not be eligible for it for a while.


Unlike a number of European countries, as well as the United States, where citizenship is a birthright, this is not the case in Switzerland.

Therefore, not all children born here have automatic access to citizenship.

A child born in Switzerland will become a citizen immediately upon birth only if both or one of the parents are/is a Swiss citizen.

It doesn’t matter how the parents got their citizenship in the first place: whether they are Swiss by birth, through ancestry, or naturalisation.

READ ALSO: Can I obtain Swiss citizenship through ancestry? 

It also doesn’t matter if you are a dual citizen — of Switzerland and another country. As long as you have a Swiss passport, you will pass on the nationality to any offspring you have.

If you don't, then your child will remain a foreigners as well.

What happens if neither you or the child’s other parent is Swiss at the time of the baby’s birth?

In this case, the child will ‘inherit’ your nationality and will, from the legal point of view, remain a foreigner — unless and until one (or both) of the parents obtain Swiss citizenship.

If that happens before the child turns 18, he or she will become Swiss as well; after this age, they will have to apply for naturalisation themselves.

What if neither parent gets naturalised?

Then the child will remain the citizen of your country of origin, at least while he or she is a minor.

At 18, however, they will have a choice of either continuing to live in Switzerland with a foreign passport and a C permit, or applying for citizenship him/herself.

This is strictly a personal choice; there are many people who were born in Switzerland to foreign parents and who live in the country their whole lives without ever seeking citizenship.

Official statistics indicate, for instance, that 2.9 million people aged 15 and over have a migration background, but only 1.1 million of them actually have Swiss nationality.

That’s because many foreigners who live in Switzerland with a C permit don’t feel the need to seek citizenship; this permit ensures the right to remain in Switzerland indefinitely (regardless of your nationality).

The major benefits that a Swiss citizenship would offer and that C permit holders don’t have is the right to vote and run for an elective office, and the possibility to leave the country for an extended period of time without worrying about losing the residency status.


Do Switzerland-born foreigners have an advantage over other foreign nationals in terms on applying for naturalisation?

If they belong to the third generation, they are eligible for the fast-track procedure — a quicker (though not necessarily easy) way to get citizenship.

But even if they have to go through the ordinary process, they have the edge because, being born and raised in Switzerland, they are fluent in their canton’s language and are integrated — two important requirements for obtaining citizenship.


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