Gurtnellen, Switzerland

Swiss Citizenship: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: 27 July 2023

Swiss Citizenship

Swiss citizenship is a coveted status that grants individuals the right to live, work and study in Switzerland, as well as enjoy the country’s numerous benefits. These benefits include access to high-quality healthcare, a stable political system, and a strong economy. 

Switzerland is also known for its breathtaking landscapes, world-renowned chocolate and cheese, and a strong emphasis on democracy, innovation, and quality of life. As a result, becoming a Swiss citizen is a dream of many people from around the globe.

This article delves into the requirements for obtaining Swiss citizenship, the rights and responsibilities that come with it, and the numerous ways in which it can enhance your life.

How to Become a Swiss Citizen: Main Routes

There are several routes to becoming a citizen of Switzerland, including citizenship by descent, citizenship by naturalization, citizenship by marriage, and citizenship by investment. While the last three methods are traditional and require time, effort, and meeting specific requirements, the first option, citizenship by descent, offers a more straightforward and relatively fast track to obtaining Swiss nationality. 

This section of the article explores the various routes to obtaining Swiss citizenship, including the requirements and benefits of each. It also delves into the concept of Switzerland citizenship by investment, which includes the Switzerland Golden Visa, and how they can provide an avenue for becoming a citizen of Switzerland.

Swiss Citizenship by Descent

Swiss citizenship by descent is a straightforward route to obtaining Swiss nationality. This method allows individuals who have at least one Swiss parent to apply for Swiss citizenship. However, the process involves a series of requirements and conditions, including proving the Swiss parent’s citizenship and providing evidence of the applicant’s connection to Swiss culture and society. 

Applicants must pass a language test and meet the Swiss military service obligations to be eligible to be eligible for Swiss citizenship by descent. Despite the challenges, obtaining Swiss citizenship by descent offers numerous benefits, such as the right to live, work, and study in Switzerland, access to Swiss social services, and the ability to travel visa-free within the Schengen area.

Swiss citizenship by descent can be granted to an individual under different circumstances. These include when at least one parent is a Swiss national, regardless of whether they are married or unmarried. In the case of unmarried parents, the child can acquire Swiss citizenship if their Swiss parent confirms paternity or maternity before the child reaches the legal age. It’s worth noting that having only one Swiss national parent is enough for the child to be automatically granted Swiss nationality.

How to Become a Swiss Citizen by Descent

  • To apply for Swiss citizenship by birth/descent, applicants must meet the relevant Swiss citizenship requirements and demonstrate a connection to Switzerland, which can involve providing evidence of spending time in Switzerland, speaking the local language, and having basic knowledge of Swiss society.
  • Applicants must also exhibit respect for public security and order and Swiss values.
  • The application process involves completing necessary forms and providing declarations and questionnaires that establish eligibility.
  • Processing time for applications can take up to 12 months.
  • The application fee for adults is currently CHF 600.
  • Children under 18 can apply for free, except in cases where the application is based on a Swiss father who is not married to the mother, in which case the fee will be CHF 350.

Swiss Citizenship by Naturalization

Swiss citizenship by naturalization is the process of obtaining Swiss nationality for foreign individuals who have lived in Switzerland for a certain period of time. To apply for Swiss citizenship by naturalization, you must meet a set of criteria, fulfill the relevant requirements, and provide various documents and declarations. These requirements and procedures for naturalization may vary depending on the canton, and the application must be approved at three levels: namely, the federal, cantonal, and municipal levels.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • You must have lived in Switzerland for at least ten years.
  • You must spend 183 days per year in the country and at least three years within the last five years before the application.
  • You must have no criminal record.
  • You must show the ability to integrate into Swiss society while adhering to Swiss customs and traditions.
  • You must prove that you have contributed positively to Swiss society.

Language and cultural obligations:

  • You must show proficiency in one of Switzerland’s official languages.
  • You must have a basic knowledge of Swiss history, politics, and customs.
  • You must respect public security, public order, and Swiss values.

Required Documents:

  • An application form.
  • Proof of residency (such as rental contracts, utility bills, or employment contracts).
  • Personal identification documents (such as passports or ID cards).
  • Documentation of your education, employment history, and any community involvement.

Application Process:

  • The application process typically takes up to one year.
  • You must apply for citizenship through your local canton.
  • Your application must be approved at the cantonal, municipal, and federal levels.
  • During the approval process, you may be interviewed by authorities to assess your integration and contribution to Swiss society.

Swiss Citizenship by Marriage

Swiss citizenship by marriage is a pathway for foreign spouses of Swiss citizens to obtain Swiss nationality. It is important to note that simply marrying a Swiss citizen does not automatically grant the foreign spouse Swiss citizenship. Instead, the foreign spouse must meet certain requirements and go through the application process. The requirements individuals must meet in order to obtain Swiss citizenship by marriage may vary depending on the canton. 

The application process typically involves submitting various documents, such as passports and marriage certificates and may take up to one year for approval.

To become a Swiss citizen by marriage, you must:

  • Have lived in Switzerland for at least 5 years, including the 12 months immediately before your application.
  • Have been married to a Swiss citizen for at least 3 years.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of a Swiss national language spoken at the B1 level and written at the A2 level.
  • Integrate into Swiss life and demonstrate familiarity with Swiss customs.
  • Comply with the Swiss rule of law and be assessed as no danger to Switzerland’s internal or external security.
  • Not have received social welfare benefits within the past three years unless you give back the amount received.

Switzerland Residency by Investment

Although there is no direct route to Switzerland citizenship by investment, Switzerland offers a golden opportunity for investors seeking to obtain Swiss citizenship after a certain period of residency through the Swiss Golden Visa program

The Switzerland Golden Visa program, also known as the Switzerland Residency by Investment program, is one of the most convenient routes to obtaining Swiss citizenship by investment. Under this program, investors who meet certain investment requirements can apply for permanent residency in Switzerland and, ultimately, Swiss citizenship.

The Switzerland Golden Visa program requires investors to make a significant investment in the country, usually in the form of a business venture or real estate. The investment amount varies depending on the canton in which the investment is made but generally ranges from CHF 1 million to CHF 2 million. Additionally, investors must meet certain eligibility criteria, including no criminal record and sufficient financial resources.

After obtaining permanent residency, investors must reside in Switzerland for at least 10 years before becoming eligible for Swiss citizenship. However, the Switzerland Golden Visa program offers a streamlined pathway to Swiss citizenship compared to the traditional naturalization process. The program also offers several benefits, including the ability to travel freely within the Schengen area and access to Swiss healthcare and education systems. Overall, the Switzerland Golden Visa program offers a unique opportunity for investors seeking to obtain Swiss citizenship through investment.

Investment Requirements:

  • You must invest a minimum of CHF 1 million in a Swiss company or CHF 5 million in a real estate project in Switzerland.
  • The investment must create jobs or add value to the Swiss economy.

Documentation Requirements:

  • A valid passport or another identification document
  • Proof of your investment, such as a bank statement or legal documentation
  • A certificate of good conduct from your home country
  • Evidence of your financial stability, such as bank statements or proof of income
  • Health insurance

Eligibility Criteria:

  • You must be at least 18 and at most 55 years old
  • You must not have any criminal convictions
  • You must have financial stability
  • You must have good health
  • You must have a valid reason for seeking residency in Switzerland

Switzerland Golden Visa: The Application Process

The Swiss Golden Visa application process can take up to 5 months to complete. The process involves several steps, including the selection of an investment option, approval from Swiss authorities, visa application, and finally, the application for permanent residence or Swiss citizenship.

The following is a detailed breakdown of the steps involved in the Swiss Golden Visa application process:

Investment Options:

  • Choose your investment option from the various investment programs available.

Approval from Swiss Authorities:

  • Sign several agreements with Swiss authorities and provide all necessary documents.
  • Undergo a stringent due diligence check on all documents.
  • Once approved, make the minimum investment required for your chosen program.

Visa Application:

  • Apply for a D visa after receiving approval from the Swiss government.
  • Provide necessary documents, bank statements, proof of health insurance, and clean criminal records.

Swiss Residence Permit:

  • Upon receiving your D visa, relocate to Switzerland with included family members and switch to a residence permit.
  • Work with Swiss Canton authorities and make your investment or establish a company and pay the necessary tax.

Permanent Residence or Swiss Citizenship:

  • Renew your temporary residence permit until you obtain Swiss permanent resident status after 10 years.
  • After residing in Switzerland for 12 years, apply for Swiss citizenship.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in one of Switzerland’s official languages and integration into Swiss culture.:

Swiss Citizenship Timeline


Benefits of Swiss Citizenship

Obtaining Swiss citizenship can be a time-consuming and financially demanding process. However, despite the challenges, obtaining Swiss citizenship is highly coveted due to the numerous benefits that come with it. These benefits include the following:

  • Access to a strong economy with a high standard of living 
  • Political stability and a well-functioning democracy 
  • The right to vote and participate in political decision-making 
  • Visa-free travel to a large number of countries worldwide, including the Schengen area
  • High-quality healthcare and education 
  • Generous social welfare system 
  • Dual citizenship
  • Low crime rates and a high degree of public safety 
  • Ability to pass citizenship down to future generations

Overall, the hard work and investment required to obtain Swiss citizenship are well worth it for those committed to building a prosperous future in one of the world’s most desirable countries.

Dual Citizenship in Switzerland

Switzerland allows for dual citizenship, meaning that a person can hold Swiss citizenship and citizenship of another country simultaneously. However, it’s important to note that not all countries allow dual citizenship, and individuals should check with their home country’s laws and regulations before pursuing Swiss citizenship. 

Dual citizenship does not exempt individuals from their obligations as Swiss citizens, such as military service and paying taxes, whereas it can restrict them from specific activities, such as working in certain government positions.

How to Get a Swiss Passport

Once you obtain Swiss citizenship, you become eligible to apply for a Swiss passport, one of the most powerful in the world. The Swiss passport grants you visa-free travel in the Schengen zone and many other countries. 

The application process for the Swiss passport can be completed in person at your communal residents’ registration office or your canton’s passport office, either by phone or online, depending on which canton you reside in. It is recommended to contact your cantonal naturalization authority for more information. 

All Swiss passports issued since 2010 are biometric, and the current cost for an adult passport is around CHF 150, while a children’s passport costs CHF 70. 

Required documentation to obtain a Swiss passport:

  • A valid Swiss ID card
  • Completed and signed passport application form
  • Two recent, identical passport photographs 
  • Original copy of a valid residence permit 
  • Proof of payment for the passport fee

How to Become a Citizen of Switzerland: The Endnote

To conclude, Swiss citizenship offers a multitude of benefits, including access to a strong economy, a high standard of living, the right to vote, high-quality healthcare and education, and visa-free travel to many countries. While the journey to obtaining Swiss citizenship can be a thorny one, it is achievable through various routes, including descent, naturalization, marriage, and investment. Each of these routes has its unique set of Switzerland citizenship requirements, and the processes can typically be time-consuming and costly. However, the perks of being a Swiss citizen make the journey worth it: for those willing to embark on this journey, the reward of being a Swiss citizen is unparalleled.

Helpful References on How to Get Switzerland Citizenship


What are the benefits of Swiss citizenship?

Swiss citizenship offers numerous benefits, including access to a strong economy, political stability, the right to vote, visa-free travel to many countries, high-quality healthcare and education, a generous social welfare system, and a high degree of public safety.

What are the routes to obtaining Swiss citizenship?

There are several routes to obtaining Swiss citizenship. The most common way is through naturalization, which is a lengthy and complex process that requires meeting certain criteria such as living in Switzerland for at least 10 years, having a clean criminal record, and demonstrating proficiency in at least one Swiss national language. Another way is through descent, which means you have at least one Swiss parent. You can also obtain Swiss citizenship by marriage, which requires being married to a Swiss citizen for at least three years and living in Switzerland for at least one year. Finally, there is the option of obtaining Swiss citizenship through investment, which involves investing a minimum amount of money in Switzerland. Each route has its own requirements and procedures, so it’s important to carefully research and choose the best option for your situation.

What are the eligibility criteria for Swiss citizenship?

The eligibility criteria for Swiss citizenship vary depending on the route taken. For example, if obtaining citizenship through naturalization, you must have lived in Switzerland for at least 10 years, speak a national language, and demonstrate a high degree of integration into Swiss society.

How do I get a Swiss passport?

If you are a Swiss citizen, you can apply for a Swiss passport either in person at your communal residents’ registration office or at your canton’s passport office (depending on which canton you live in). You will need to provide several documents, including your current passport or ID, passport photos, and proof of Swiss citizenship.

How powerful is the Swiss passport?

The Swiss passport is considered one of the most powerful passports in the world, as it allows for visa-free travel to over 185 countries.

What are the benefits of having a Swiss passport?

A Swiss passport allows you to travel to over 100 countries visa-free and provides access to high-quality healthcare and education in Switzerland. Additionally, it allows you to participate in political decision-making, and enjoy a range of social welfare benefits.

What are the eligibility criteria for obtaining Swiss citizenship through naturalization?

To be eligible for Swiss citizenship through naturalization, you must have lived in Switzerland for at least 10 years, hold a valid residence permit, be proficient in one of Switzerland’s official languages, and demonstrate a strong integration into Swiss society.

Can I obtain Swiss citizenship through investment?

Yes, it is possible to obtain Swiss citizenship through investment. However, the investment requirements can be high, and there are strict eligibility criteria that must be met.

How long does it take to obtain Swiss citizenship through descent?

The process of obtaining Swiss citizenship through descent can take several months to a year or more, depending on the complexity of your case and the efficiency of the authorities.

How can I apply for a Swiss passport?

To apply for a Swiss passport, you must visit your communal residents’ registration office or the passport office of your canton (depending on where you live), and provide the necessary documents and payment. You can also apply online in some cantons.

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