How to become a Swiss national: a brief summary of the ordinary naturalisation process in Switzerland - Tax and Legal blog

2023-03-09_14-53-23Switzerland is famous for its delicious chocolate and cheese, stunning mountain landscapes, and its love of winter sports. From an immigration perspective Switzerland has one of the most powerful passports in the world, giving the passport holder access to 125 countries without the need to obtain a visa. Switzerland is also very attractive to immigrants because of its political and economic stability and high standard of living. But Switzerland also has some of the strictest naturalisation laws in the world, making the process often lengthy and challenging, even for those who have lived in Switzerland their entire life.

The general requirements

Those applying for Swiss citizenship must meet various requirements.

The naturalisation law foresees that foreign nationals live in the country for at least 10 years before they can apply for citizenship. Years spent between the ages of eight and 18, however, will be counted double; in these cases the applicants must have been in Switzerland for at least six years. There are additional requirements at cantonal and communal level that range between two and five years.

Years spent in Switzerland on the following permit types count towards the above-mentioned time requirements:

  • stay with B or C-permit
  • stay with the ‘carte de légitimation’ (CDL) issued by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) or with a Ci permit
  • stay with the type F permit, although only half the time is counted.

At the time of application applicants need to be in possession of a permanent residence permit C.

In addition to the above points and requirements, applicants need to:

  • be successfully integrated, with proof of language skills at level B1 orally and A2 in writing in an official language of canton of residence;
  • know Swiss customs and its way of life
  • not pose any risk to the country’s security.

The Procedure

The ordinary naturalisation process is a complex procedure and depends on the approval of three different authorities: communal, cantonal and federal. The exact requirements and procedures vary greatly from one canton to another or even from one commune to another. Some authorities require applicants to take written or oral naturalisation exams to check their knowledge about Switzerland and the region in which they live.

Once a naturalisation request has been made, it is first assessed by the canton and the commune of residence. Thereafter, if the applicant satisfies all the requirements, the application is forwarded to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). Once all formal and material requirements have been met, the SEM issues the federal naturalisation licence and sends the application to the cantonal authority for a final decision.

Processing times and costs

The process involved in obtaining Swiss citizenship therefore varies between cantons and usually takes several years.
It can also be a costly process, as a fee applies at three different levels during the authorisation process.

The fees too can vary significantly, depending on the canton and the commune, but are generally in the following ranges:

  • Commune: CHF 500 - 1,000
  • Canton: up to CHF 2,000
  • Confederation: CHF 100 - 150

Deloitte’s view

Even though minimum requirements are set by the Federal Council, the cantons and the communes in Switzerland have wide discretion in the naturalisation process. It is therefore crucial to know the exact requirements of the canton and commune to avoid wasting time and limit the potential for setbacks or disappointments.

Deloitte’s Swiss Immigration team has significant experience assisting applicants with managing the end-to-end naturalisation process. If you are interested in learning more about the Swiss naturalisation process or would welcome support, please contact Jehona Islami, Aysun Inceleme or Irmak Tokay for further information and assistance.

If you would like to discuss more on the above topics, please do reach out to our key contacts below.

Key contacts


Jehona Islami - Director, Immigration

Jehona is a Director at Deloitte and part of the Immigration Team in Switzerland. She started her career in 2008 and has been able to gain extensive experience in the field of immigration throughout her career so far. She has been supporting both, corporates as well as private clients with their immigration needs for Switzerland. In the last few years, her focus has been on immigration advisory services mainly for private clients, but not exclusively, as well as providing support to corporate clients on best practices and compliance in immigration.



Aysun Inceleme - Manager, Immigration

Aysun is an Immigration Manager within Deloitte’s Global Employer Services. She enjoys working with different global and local clients and being the mediator between clients and the Swiss authorities. In her day-to-day business her focus lies in advisory on the Swiss immigration law and requirements to ensure a smooth delivery of our services. Aysun holds a master’s degree in political science and public law. She studied in Zurich and worked at the Swiss Embassy in Albania before she joined Deloitte as an immigration consultant in November 2017.


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Irmak Tokay - Assistant, Immigration

Irmak is an immigration assistant within Deloitte’s Global Employer Services department. She holds the bachelor degree in international management and has started her career with Deloitte in November 2021. In her daily work, Irmak advises corporate clients on their Swiss immigration needs and provides support to ensure compliance with Swiss immigration requirements.



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