Swiss nationality in the Canton of Geneva through ordinary naturalisation.

Swiss nationality through ordinary naturalisation

Swiss nationality is the status of being a citizen of Switzerland. It can be obtained by birth, adoption, simplified or ordinary naturalisation and reinstatement of citizenship. On this page, you will find all the information you need about becoming Swiss in the Canton of Geneva through ordinary naturalisation.

(last update March 2024)


  1. Introductory remarks to Swiss nationality
  2. Legal basis
  3. Conditions for granting Swiss nationality at federal level
  4. Cantonal level conditions for Swiss nationality
  5. Consideration of personal circumstances
  6. Forms and questions
  7. Civil registry document
  8. French language test
  9. Swiss and Geneva history, geography and political institutions test
  10. Other documents required for the Swiss nationality
  11. Specific provisions relating to children under 18
  12. Cost of the procedure
  13. How the process works
  14. Accelerated procedure
  15. How to appeal if your application for Swiss nationality is rejected
  16. The consequences of obtaining Swiss nationality

I. Introductory remarks to Swiss nationality

Is your passport just the ID you show when you travel abroad?

Swiss people definitely see it as more than that! In the Credit Suisse “Worry Barometer” survey 2023, 77% of the country’s population said that they were proud to be Swiss.

The conditions for obtaining Swiss nationality are very strict, in particular as regards the time the applicant is required to have lived in the country (10 years in most cases). Nevertheless, at 1.8%, the Swiss naturalisation rate is in line with the European Union average of 2.2% (2021), although it remains significantly lower than the rates in countries at the top of the table, Sweden (10%) and The Netherlands (5.4%).

In 2017 and 2018 however, there were respectively 44,949 and 42,493 naturalisations, an almost absolute record after a downward trend since 2006.

This spectacular rush for Swiss passports is due to a move to close the borders following the popular initiative vote against mass immigration on 9 February 2014, as well as the new nationality law which came into force on 1 January 2018. The main groups affected by the reform have been international civil servants and students. The law put in place very restrictive conditions meaning that these groups are no longer eligible, explaining the rush for the coveted Swiss passport few years ago.

In 2022, 41,486 people were granted Swiss nationality. This figure will probably rise over the next few years, due to Brexit and the war in Ukraine.

As you will be aware, the Swiss Confederation recognises naturalisation by jus sanguinis (maternal or paternal descent) and not jus soli, where nationality is acquired through birth in the country (as is the case in the USA, Canada, etc.). It is also possible to become Swiss by adoption, by ordinary naturalisation or by simplified naturalisation. Obviously, no procedure is required to secure nationality through jus sanguinis. The main groups eligible for simplified naturalisation are the foreign spouses of Swiss citizens, children of Swiss parents who do not yet have Swiss nationality, and stateless children.

This document will deal with the ordinary naturalisation process, as it is the most complex (a page on simplified naturalisation for spouses is available here, or a brochure on request). We will cover the application process for the Canton of Geneva only. It is important to note that each canton has its own specific procedure and conditions.

In any case, you should be aware that a naturalisation application needs to be prepared well in advance. Every year, the practice becomes stricter and the procedures change. Consequently, we recommend using a lawyer who will guide you through the process and make it easier.

Our law firm has been specialising in Swiss naturalisation for more than 15 years. We handle several dozen applications a year, with a success rate to date of 100%. We help our clients to assemble the required documents (including answering their different questions), prepare for the various appointments with them and liaise with the authorities throughout the process of applying for Swiss nationality, making sure that the process is quick and hassle-free. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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III. Conditions for granting Swiss nationality at federal level

The Confederation sets only the minimum conditions for the ordinary naturalisation procedure. The cantonal authorities can impose additional conditions for citizenship. Depending on their degree of autonomy, municipalities may also have legislative and decision-making powers in this area.

Since 1 January 2018, under article 9 SCA, as a foreign national with a valid  settlement permit (permit C), you can submit an application for ordinary naturalisation at any time after your ninth birthday if you have lived in Switzerland for at least 10 years (calculated from the date you submitted your request for residence), to include a three-year uninterrupted stay during the 5 years preceding your application. It is important to note that the ten years spent living in Switzerland need not be continuous.

You must however hold a settlement permit (permit C), valid on the date you submit your application and throughout the process of applying for Swiss nationality, and when your federal naturalisation authorisation is granted, and when the ordinary naturalisation decision is made by the cantonal authority.

Years spent in Switzerland between the ages of 8 and 18 count double. There is however a minimum required stay of 6 years.

In addition, years in which you held a permit N (asylum seeker), G (cross-border commuter), S (person in need of protection, as issued to Ukrainians currently) or L (short-term resident) do not count. The same applies to time spent in the country on a tourist visa (Schengen visa or type C visa).  Time during which you held a legitimation card (or a similar residence permit such as a permit Ci) does count, and time spent with a permit F (temporary permit) is halved and counted (article 33 SCA).

In consequence, if you are physically living in Switzerland but are not entitled to do so under the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration (FNIA; RS 142.20), or if you hold the required authorisation but do not actually live in Switzerland, you do not meet the residency conditions laid down by federal law and are not entitled to a Swiss passport.

So, you are required to prove that you fulfil the Swiss residency condition: that you have established a stable, long-term home in Switzerland. You must have family, professional or educational ties with the place in which you live, and specific material ties that demonstrate that this is the centre of your interests in Switzerland.

If you are applying for ordinary naturalisation and have left Switzerland for a certain period of time before submitting your application for nationality, the authorities will check whether this time out of the country is considered to have interrupted your stay in Switzerland, or whether it can be counted even though you were living abroad.

A stay will be considered as continuous if you:

  • leave Switzerland for a short time (less than 6 months) with the intention of returning (art. 33 para. 2 SCA); or
  • move abroad for a maximum of one year for professional reasons or for training or educational purposes (art. 16 SCO).

If the time spent outside Switzerland exceeds one year, even if it is for valid professional or educational purposes, your stay will be considered to have been interrupted.

In addition, your residency will also be considered to have ended when you leave Switzerland if you:

  • declare your departure to the relevant cantonal authority; or
  • have actually lived outside Switzerland for more than six months.

In a case law 1D_2/2021 of 11 December 2023, the Federal Court reiterated that, in the event of a stay abroad for training or education purposes, it is not the duration of the training itself that must be taken into account but the duration of the stay abroad. Furthermore, if it appears, taking into account all the concrete circumstances of the case, that the foreign student maintains the centre of his or her interests and personal ties in Switzerland, he should not be considered to have left Switzerland. In such a case, there is no need to refer to articles 33 para. 2 SCA and 16 SCO.


Formerly, if you made your application with your husband or wife, and only one of you met the conditions set out above, a stay of 5 years, to include the year before the application was submitted, was acceptable for the second spouse so long as you had been living together for 3 years. Unfortunately, as of 2018, this option is no longer available. To be eligible for ordinary naturalisation, each spouse must now meet the residency conditions individually.

However, simplified naturalisation still exists for foreign spouses of Swiss citizens, except where they have been naturalised under the ordinary procedure since the wedding. (Conditions: have lived together for 3 years and have lived in Switzerland for 5 years, including the year before the application is submitted.) The same rules apply if you are a foreign national in a registered partnership, but your partner will be required to apply for ordinary naturalisation (permit C required) and not simplified naturalisation (article 10 SCA). Please note that only partnerships registered under federal law are taken into account.


Before the authorities grant the federal naturalisation authorisation (see XIII) below), they will check that you meet the requirements for naturalisation (art. 11 and 12 SCA).

In particular, they will ensure that you:

  1. are integrated into Swiss society; (you have the ability to communicate in a national language in everyday situations, both orally and in writing, article 6 SCO);
  2. are accustomed to the Swiss lifestyle and Swiss customs (article 2 SCO);
  3. show respect for public security and order (clear criminal record both in Switzerland and abroad, no debt enforcement or insolvency proceedings in the last five years, no wages withheld, all taxes, child maintenance, rent, social charges and fines paid and you have not publicly expressed support for a crime against public order, a genocide, a crime against humanity, etc., article 4 SCO);
  4. show respect for the values of the Constitution (fundamental rights, gender equality, freedom of religion, freedom of opinion, military service, democracy, principle of compulsory schooling, liability to taxation, etc., article 5 SCO);
  5. are contributing to the country’s economy or completing your education (in employment or education, not reliant on welfare benefits, article 7 SCO);
  6. do not pose a threat to Switzerland’s internal or external security (terrorism, violent extremism, organised crime, espionage, etc., article 3 SCO);
  7. encourage and support the integration of your spouse, your registered partner and your children under 18 for whom you hold parental responsibility (article 8 SCO).

As regards familiarisation with the Swiss lifestyle, the authorities will look particularly closely at whether you have a knowledge of Swiss geography, history, politics (civil rights, political structure, legal system, etc.), society (Swiss traditions, social security, health, education, etc.), and whether you take an active part in the social life and customs of the Swiss population and are in contact with Swiss people (article 2 SCO).

Under article 7 SCO, as an applicant for Swiss nationality you must be capable of supporting yourself and your family (housing, food, taxes, travel, insurance etc.) as far as you can predict, via an income, your wealth or payments such as pensions to which you are entitled. So, in principle, as a candidate for Swiss nationality, you are required to be making an effective and active contribution to the country’s economy. You are expected to be active on a professional level, which means undertaking a job of work producing goods or services in order to earn an income to support yourself and your family.

You can prove that you are contributing to the country’s economy by showing:

  • a current contract of employment or proof that you are involved in an independent gainful activity, e.g. a copy of a commercial register entry;
  • proof of your independent means if you do not receive an income from working;
  • your firm intention to put in the efforts required to find a job. Stating your intention to contribute to the Swiss economy may also be sufficient if you work part-time, through a temping agency or on short-term contracts;
  • family responsibilities which mean that you are unable to fulfil the criteria of intending to contribute to the economy because you have chosen to devote your time to your children and your household, so long as you fulfil all the other conditions for naturalisation.

You must fulfil the participation in the economy criteria both when you submit your application and when you are actually granted Swiss nationality.

If you are not making an effective and active contribution to the economy but are completing a training course to equip you to do so, you can still be naturalised.  The training or education you are undertaking must be such that you will be able to enter the Swiss labour market once you complete it.

To prove that you have completed or are undertaking training or education, you can present:

  • an apprenticeship contract;
  • a diploma awarded on the completion of compulsory education by a secondary school, or proof of registration at such a school;
  • a diploma from a vocational or academic high school issued by a canton, or proof of registration at such a school;
  • a Federal Matura issued by the Swiss Confederation, or proof of registration for this;
  • a diploma from a specialised higher education institution or a university or proof of registration at such an institution;
  • a continuing professional education diploma or certificate.

If you are in receipt of welfare benefits during the three years before you submit your application or during the procedure, you will not be judged to have met the requirement to contribute to the country’s economy or continue your education, unless you have repaid those benefits in full.

Consequently, you will not be considered to be integrated if you do not have an exemplary financial reputation. This will be the case:

  • if you have not fulfilled all your important obligations under public law (for example, you have tax or health insurance premium arrears, or fines owing);
  • you have not fulfilled all your important obligations under private law (for example, you have rent arrears, maintenance payments owing or unpaid debts).

When Swiss nationality is granted, whether the applicant pays their taxes is an important criterion. If you are late paying your taxes in the five years before you submit your application for naturalisation, you will not be granted Swiss nationality. When looking at whether you have fulfilled your obligation to pay taxes, only final taxes are taken into account (not provisional taxes). However, any specific payment schedule that you have agreed with the tax authorities will be disregarded. Similarly, major personal reasons will not be considered a justification for failing to pay your taxes.

Enforcement proceedings are also an obstacle to obtaining Swiss nationality. Ordinary naturalisation will not be granted if the debt collection excerpt shows one or more enforcement proceedings amounting to a total of more than CHF 1,500 outstanding, where you have not filed an objection to the payment order. The authorities will only take into account the data shown on the debt collection register for the five years preceding your naturalisation application.

If the debt collection register shows that you filed an objection to one or more of the enforcement proceedings, the authorities are not qualified to judge the validity of the debt. In this case, they will ask for further information and you will be required to supply the necessary documents in accordance with your obligation to cooperate (art. 21 SCO). If you have lodged an objection to the payment order, you are required to inform the authorities of the progress of the enforcement proceedings. They will be unable to make a decision while the proceedings are ongoing. You can also be refused Swiss nationality if you have certificates of unpaid debts (within the 5 years preceding your application), or attachment of earnings orders against you.


Failing to comply with a provision of the law on a single occasion or committing a minor offence is not an obstacle to nationality. However, repeated minor offences are considered, collectively, as a major violation of public security and order. If you are in the process of being prosecuted for a crime, your citizenship application will be suspended until the criminal justice system has closed your case. This includes any case brought abroad. A criminal record (custodial sentence, prohibition from carrying on an activity, contact prohibition, in-patient therapeutic measures, monetary penalty, whether suspended or not, etc.) can be an obstacle to obtaining a Swiss passport. The directives issued by the State Secretariat for Migration SEM give detailed instructions on this, in the form of summary tables (time taken for a record to become spent).


Lastly, under article 8 SCO, you are required (by your financial contributions and your practical and moral support) to encourage members of your family to mix with the Swiss population, to help them learn a national language and to support them in contributing to the country’s economy or completing their education. You are also required to encourage them to take part in cultural and social events with Swiss people (in the commune, in the canton and at federal level) and in any other activities that will help them to integrate in Switzerland (clubs and organisations – sporting, cultural, social, political or similar). Of course, there is no obligation to succeed; you cannot force members of your family to integrate. Only your behaviour, as the applicant, will be analysed.

It is important to note that the Confederation’s role, at federal level, is mainly to ensure that you comply with the rule of law in Switzerland and do not pose a threat to Switzerland’s internal or external security. Local authorities, at canton and in particular commune level, are better placed to check that you are integrated into Swiss society and have adapted to the Swiss lifestyle and Swiss customs. Consequently, the Confederation makes only a cursory assessment of the latter two conditions.

You must fulfil all the material conditions for ordinary naturalisation, both when you submit your application and when the naturalisation decision is communicated to you.

Lastly, it is important to remember that you can live outside Switzerland for professional or educational reasons without fear of your stay in the country being considered to have been interrupted, so long as you keep your centre of interests in Switzerland and demonstrate that you intend to return. However, the period spent outside Switzerland must not exceed 12 months, whether it is for professional or educational reasons.

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IV. Cantonal level conditions for Swiss nationality

If you fulfil all the conditions of federal law as set out above, you can apply for Genevan nationality if you have concretely lived in the canton for 2 years, including the 12 months before the application is submitted (article 11 al. 1 LNat).

You are required to specify the commune whose citizenship you wish to acquire. This can be the commune you currently live in or one where you have lived in the past.

It is important to note that your settlement permit (permit C) must be valid throughout the entire application process from when you make your application until your ordinary naturalisation is granted (if it expires, the procedure will be suspended until a new residence permit is issued, or at least until the decision to renew your permit has been made, even if the permit has yet to be produced and issued). You must also concretely live (be physically present) in Switzerland until your passport is issued (article 11 para. 3 LNat).

In addition, you must have ties with the canton which demonstrate that you have adapted to the Genevan way of life, have sufficient knowledge of the geography, history, politics and social specificities of Switzerland and the canton of Geneva, have fulfilled all relevant tax obligations, not be subject to debt proceedings, not have any criminal convictions (including a suspended sentence), show respect for public security and order, be of good repute, speak French, be capable of supporting yourself and your family, not be in receipt of benefits, through your own fault or through abuse, be integrated into the Genevan community, and respect the fundamental rights provided for by the constitution of the Republic and Canton of Geneva (article 12 LNat).

In contrast to federal law, under the law of Geneva, a child included in a parent’s naturalisation application but who reaches the age of 18 years before the naturalisation is granted cannot be naturalised (article 25 al. 2 LNat).

You should also note that the canton and the commune in which you submit your naturalisation application will continue to process your application even if you transfer your domicile to another commune or canton, so long as they have finished assessing the naturalisation conditions set out in section three.

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V. Consideration of personal circumstances

Under the principles of proportionality and non-discrimination, the relevant authorities will take into account an illness or disability or any other major personal reason that prevents you from fulfilling the criteria of participating in the economy, completing training, not claiming welfare payments, meeting the language requirements or  passing the Swiss and Genevan history, geography and institutions test.

For this to apply, your difficulties must be beyond your control (not resulting from a fault on your part) and must affect your day-to-day life, making it impossible for you to meet the conditions for nationality in the foreseeable future (for example a physical, mental or psychological disability, a serious or long-term illness, advanced age, being illiterate or analphabetic, living in severe poverty despite employment, having family responsibilities or depending on welfare payments while completing your first formal training in Switzerland).

In Geneva, there are specific conditions for the exemption procedure and there is a particular process that you must follow before you submit your naturalisation application. A specific form is available on request from the cantonal naturalisation department. You will generally be required to submit a medical certificate dated within the last three months together with the results of attempts to sit the language test or the Swiss and Genevan history, geography and institutions test. In addition, you will be required to attend integration information sessions organised by charities approved by the authorities (Camarada, La Roseraie, etc.).

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VI. Forms and questions

If you fulfil all the conditions set by both federal and cantonal law, you should begin by going to the Canton Naturalisation Department (route de Chancy 88, 1213 Onex) to collect the Swiss and Genevan naturalisation form (yellow form) and the appendices to it.

One single form covers your whole family (your spouse and children under the age of 18 can be included on the same application).

You (and your spouse if applicable) are required to enter your personal details on the form (family name, given name, date of birth, parents’ names, marriage details and full address, including employer’s address) and detail everywhere you have lived since you were born, the schools/universities you attended and the jobs you have held.

You must also complete a declaration on compliance with the rule of law (that you have not been prosecuted for or convicted of a crime in Switzerland or abroad from the age of 12) and that you have not drawn welfare benefits, sign a power of attorney giving the naturalisation department access to your tax information and complete the federal naturalisation authorisation request.

Lastly, you and your spouse are required to answer a series of questions on a special form which is updated regularly (questions may also be asked regarding any children included on your application). Children aged 9 or over applying individually will receive a simplified form which must be signed by them and by their legal representatives.

Questions include:

  • Why are you applying for Swiss and Genevan citizenship?
  • Where have you travelled outside Switzerland during the last 10 years and do you have any plans to move or travel in the near future?
  • Do you own property in Switzerland or abroad? What are your future intentions for it?
  • Have you been subject to any criminal convictions in Switzerland or elsewhere over the last 10 years?
  • What do you understand to be the civil duties you will have as a Swiss citizen and which votes have you taken part in (at municipal level)?
  • What are your leisure activities (sports, cultural and associations) and how are you involved in activities in the commune and canton.
  • What local media do you read, watch or listen to?

Lastly, you must give the names of five Swiss friends (who are not your relations) living in the Confederation. You and your spouse can give the same names.

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VII. Civil registry document

With your application for Swiss nationality, you are required to provide an original copy of a civil registry document issued within the last 6 months, marked “in view of a naturalisation application”. This often proves to be the most complex administrative requirement.

A civil registry document is an important piece of paperwork because it shows your date and place of marriage together with current personal information for you and your spouse and any children you have had together. It is issued by Infostar, the new digital registry. When a new event affecting civil status occurs, you present your civil registry document and a replacement is issued.

You should request your civil registry document from the office of the relevant civil status district. This will vary depending on where you live (for example, there are civil status offices for Geneva city, Carouge, Grand-Saconnex and Pregny-Chambésy, etc.). You can check which district you need to contact to have your civil registry document issued at

So long as the Swiss authorities have already been notified of your civil status events – marriages, births, etc. – the process is very simple (the document is issued within five working days and applications can be made online). Unfortunately however, in most cases the Swiss authorities will not have been informed of civil status events that have taken place abroad, so the first stage will be to have these events recorded in Switzerland.

You should be aware that the requirements differ depending on the civil status office concerned. Some will require you to attend in person with your original passport several times while others will not, etc.

Documents and procedures vary depending on your country of origin. For example, if you are a citizen of Vietnam, you will be required to obtain an original copy of your birth certificate, have it certified by the ministry of foreign affairs in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and then have it translated into French by the justice office of the people’s committee in the relevant district. The same applies to your marriage certificate if applicable. Original copies of these documents must then be given to the civil status officer and sent to the Swiss embassy in Vietnam to be checked and certified. The civil registry document will not be issued until this process has been completed. If you are an Italian citizen however, the procedure is much simpler.

In all cases, your first step is to go to the office of the relevant civil status district with the yellow form (first page completed), your settlement permit and your passport. The civil status officer will explain exactly which documents you need and in what format.

We strongly recommend that you request your civil registry document before you begin any other aspects of your naturalisation application (with the exception of the tests, see VII and VIII below). It can take up to 6 months for a civil registry document to be issued. It can also be fairly expensive, costing up to CHF 600.

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VIII. French language test

As integration into society is a prerequisite for acquiring Swiss nationality, you are required to demonstrate that you have a sufficient level of language to enable you to understand your rights and fulfil your obligations as a citizen, and more generally to cope with the majority of the situations you will encounter in everyday life in Switzerland.

Consequently, all naturalisation applicants (including spouses) are required to have at least level B1 (oral) and level A2 (written) of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. You are required to provide a language skills certificate unless:

  1. you write and speak a national language which is also your mother tongue,
  2. you completed at least five years of your compulsory schooling in a national language (not necessarily in Switzerland). In this case, you must include a certificate stating, firstly, that you completed at least five years of your compulsory schooling in French, and secondly, which school years are considered to be compulsory,
  3. you have completed a course of upper secondary (schools preparing students for the gymnasium Matura, business schools preparing students for the federal certificate of proficiency (CFC), general high schools preparing students for the ECG certificate, etc.) or tertiary level education (universities – Swiss only, advanced teacher training colleges, federal polytechnics, etc. preparing students for a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctoral degree, a federal certificate or a federal diploma) in French.

In Geneva, the official recognised language is French. German, Italian and Romansh are not recognised.

Of course, your language competency has already been assessed to a degree when your settlement permit was granted (when the requirements were oral level A2 and written level A1).

The written language requirements are not too high. You are required to be able to:

–      Understand isolated phrases and common expressions on priority topics (for example, simple personal and family information, shopping, local environment and work).

–      Communicate during basic, common tasks which only require an exchange of simple, direct information on familiar, common subjects.

–      Describe in simple terms your educational background and local environment and converse on topics relevant to everyday needs.

The oral language requirements are stricter, however. You must be able to:

–      understand the important points when communicating with the school, an employer, an estate agency or the authorities when familiar topics are discussed using clear and simple language;

–      manage to communicate in most everyday situations, for example at home, in the workplace or in a public place;

–      speak clearly and coherently about familiar subjects or topics that interest you, and talk about your own experiences;

–      express your opinions, goals, hopes and wishes, explain them and give the reasons behind them briefly.

As proof of your language skills, you will be required to provide a certificate awarded following a test that meets international criteria defined by organisations such as the Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE).

The federal authorities work with the national “fide | Français, Italiano, Deutsch en Suisse – learn, teach, evaluate” programme which identifies centres in the cantons for accreditation.

In the Canton of Geneva, the official centres are Active Languages, ASC Languages, Bell Switzerland SA,     Berlitz School of Languages, Ecole BER, Ecole Moderne de Secrétariat et de Langues, Ecole PEG, Formations&Co, Hospice générale, IFAGE, International Management School Geneva (IMSG), Miduca Genève, Oseo Genève, Swiss Language Academy and Swiss Language Group Examination dates are available (in French) at:

If you are aged 16 or over, you should register with the centre, who will pass your registration to the fide administration department. You will take your tests (written and oral) at the centre, and they will be sent to the administration department for marking. The oral section lasts 40 minutes and the written section 60 minutes.

The Fide Administration Department will contact you with your results (around four weeks after the test). If you have been successful, you will be presented with a language passport as proof of your skills. The passport provides a consistent country-wide framework for evaluating language skills. The full fide test (oral and written) costs CHF 250. If you fail the test, you are required to wait three months before you can retake it.

In theory, your language passport is valid for life. However, if your certificate is several years old and the authorities have doubts about your current language skills, you may be asked to sit another evaluation.

There are two other ways of obtaining a language passport:

–           by presenting a recognised language certificate

If you have obtained another language certificate, either in Switzerland or abroad, and it is listed as a recognised language certificate List of recognised language certificates (for example the DELF for French), you can send it to the fide administration department in order to obtain your passport. You will receive a passport corresponding to your level of oral and written language on payment of a CHF 20 tax.

–           by presenting a fide validation file

If your level of language corresponds to B1 or above and you can demonstrate this, you can complete a validation file in order to obtain your language passport. Your file will be presented to specially trained experts and your language competency will be checked by way of an interview and a brief writing task. The procedure costs CHF 150.

Certificates that only confirm that you have taken part in online language lessons and evaluations are not sufficient.

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IX. Swiss and Geneva history, geography and political institutions test

You must also take a test to demonstrate your general knowledge of Switzerland and Geneva before submitting your naturalisation application.

This test is held at the Cantonal Population Office. You should bring your ID and test notification with you when you attend for the test. We strongly recommend that you register with the naturalisation department early, because the test date you are allocated may be a way off (up to 3 months).

The test lasts a maximum of 60 minutes and is administered on an iPad. It consists of 45 multiple choice questions chosen from a bank of 130. To pass, you must answer 40 questions correctly. The test is free and it generally takes a week for the results to be issued. If you fail the test, you are required to wait three months before you can retake it.

All the information you will need is available at This website includes a tutorial to help you improve your knowledge of Geneva and Switzerland (the programme is divided into five modules: history, Switzerland and the cantons, the political system, rights and obligations, and habits and customs). You can also practice the test online, as the website includes test questions which are updated regularly.

If you completed your compulsory schooling in the Canton of Geneva, you are exempt from the test (article 11 para. 3 RNat).

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X. Other documents required for the Swiss nationality

Contact us for detailed information about the documents required for the Swiss ordinary naturalisation.

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XI. Specific provisions relating to children under 18

Generally, your children under 18 are included in your naturalisation application, so long as they live with you (article 30 SCA). Children can be included so long as you, the applicant, have at least 50% custody, regardless of where they are legally domiciled. However, if children do not live with the parent making the application and are mainly looked after by the other parent, they cannot be included.

Children aged under 2 are included without any further formalities. From 2 upwards, they are included so long as they have been living in Switzerland for at least two years. In this case, the child’s naturalisation application is made by their legal representative. (Both parents’ consent is however required, except if an exception is applicable). Young people over 16 but under 18 must express their intention to acquire Swiss nationality in writing. Finally, please note that for children aged 12 and over, the conditions outlined below (integration, etc.) will be examined separately as appropriate to the age of the child.

As a general rule, your child’s age when the application is made is taken into account when deciding whether they are included in a naturalisation authorisation. However, there are exceptions in some cantons (Geneva is one) if the child reaches 18 years of age before the parents are naturalised.

A child not included in a naturalisation application made by one of their parents (where the child was under 18 when the parent in question submitted their naturalisation application) can submit a simplified naturalisation application before their 22nd birthday, if they have lived in Switzerland for a total of 5 years, including the three years before the application is made (art. 24 SCA).

As explained above, any years during which the child lived in Switzerland between the ages of 8 and 18 count double, subject to a minimum stay of six years (art. 9 para. 2 SCA).

Consequently, a child who has lived in Switzerland continuously since they were born can submit an application for ordinary naturalisation in their own right at the age of 9. The application for nationality must be approved and submitted on the child’s behalf by their legal representative. If the father and mother have joint parental responsibility for the child, they must both give their consent.


Children aged 12 to 15 whose native language is not French, and who do not have or cannot obtain a language certificate (see VIII above) and who attend an international school in Switzerland can present a reasoned assessment of their linguistic ability (at least B1 in spoken French and A2 in written French) issued by the school. All the child’s school registration certificates must be included with the application. In addition, the school must confirm how long the child has been attending, the section they are in (French, bilingual, etc.) and the number of lessons per week taught in French. In Geneva, applicants are provided with a special form to be completed and signed by the school.

Children aged 12 to 15 whose native language is not French, and who do not have or cannot obtain a language certificate (see VII above) and who have not completed at least five years of their compulsory schooling in Switzerland can provide proof of their linguistic ability (at least B1 in spoken French and A2 in written French) by presenting their school registration certificates for all the time they have attended school in Switzerland.


Young people aged over 12 (and up to the age of 25) must also take the Swiss and Genevan history, geography and institutions test, except if they have completed at least five years of schooling in the Canton of Geneva (in cycles 2 [8 to 12 years] and 3 [12 to 15 years] of the curriculum of French-speaking Switzerland [PER]). An exception is made for children aged 12 as their age means they can only have completed the four years of cycle 2. (In such cases, one year of cycle 1 [4 to 8 years] can be counted.) Alternatively, they can take the test during the interview with the examiner from the Canton naturalisation service. (A form is provided for this purpose. The young person is asked questions orally and must answer 8 out of 10 correctly).


Lastly, a parental authorisation form together with copies of identification documents (if parental responsibility is held jointly) or a copy of the full court order awarding sole parental responsibility must be submitted to the authorities.

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XII. Cost of the procedure

The naturalisation department collects a standard tax to cover the costs of the procedure. The tax is levied for each person included on the application. The rates are:

  • CHF 300 for young people aged 11 – 17;
  • CHF 850 for young adults aged 18 – 24;
  • CHF 1,250 for people aged 25 or over;
  • CHF 1,360 for a couple where one person is aged under 25;
  • CHF 2,000 for couples aged 25 or over;
  • CHF 300 per child included in an application.

Other expenses you will incur include the federal naturalisation authorisation charge (CHF 50 for children under 18, CHF 100 for a single person over 18 applying individually and CHF 150 for a couple or a family) and the State Chancellery fees (CHF 350 per application, with children under 18 exempt). These costs must generally be paid in advance (in particular the federal authorisation charge, for which a bill will be issued). Payment must be made in a single bank transfer. Payment by instalments is not generally accepted.

You should also allow around CHF 70 for the various Swiss documents required (debt enforcement certificate, certificate for time spent living in Switzerland and criminal record certificate) plus your exam fees (CHF 250 maximum for the language test, the Swiss general knowledge test is free) and up to CHF 600 for the civil registry document (depending on your nationality).

Lawyers’ fees are in addition to this. At CROCE & Associés SA, we generally agree a set fee with you to cover legal assistance throughout the entire process, until your passport is issued.

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XIII. How does the process works

Contact us for detailed information about the process for the Swiss ordinary naturalisation.

It should be noted that since 1 January 2024, interviews have been more in-depth and applicants have been asked more questions.

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XIV. Accelerated procedure

Although there is no specific provision in law for this, an accelerated naturalisation procedure may be used if there is justification for it and it does not constitute preferential treatment.

The accelerated procedure may be granted when the normal processing time would be unacceptably problematic for an applicant that fulfils the conditions for ordinary naturalisation.

The accelerated naturalisation procedure could be granted, for example, if the applicant:

  • needs to take an examination in the near future, and has to be a Swiss citizen to do so;
  • wants to do the basic training element of their military service at a relatively young age;
  • is applying for a role for which Swiss citizenship is required (e.g. customs officer, police officer, etc.) and can provide credible evidence of this, for example confirmation from the employer;
  • is an elite-level sports person and plans to represent Switzerland after naturalisation;
  • is seriously ill and wishes to take Swiss nationality before the end of their life.

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XV. How to appeal if your application for Swiss nationality is rejected

If you do not meet the conditions for Swiss nationality, the cantonal authority (the Council of State in Geneva) will issue a negative cantonal decision and reject your application for ordinary naturalisation. Your file will not be passed to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). Reasons will be given for this decision and you can lodge an appeal against it at the administrative chamber of the Court of Justice. The only avenue for appeal against a judgement issued by the Court of Justice is a subsidiary constitutional appeal lodged with the Federal Supreme Court. To lodge this appeal, you must believe that one of your constitutional rights has been infringed.  Appeals to the Federal Supreme Court in matters pertaining to public law are inadmissible.

When the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) refuses to grant the federal naturalisation authorisation, it also gives reasons for its decision (after offering the applicant the opportunity to respond in writing) and informs the relevant cantonal authority. The applicant, the canton and the commune have the right to lodge an appeal with the Federal Administrative Court. The decision of the Federal Administrative Court is final because there is no right to appeal in matters pertaining to public law nor to subsidiary constitutional appeal before the Federal Supreme Court.

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XVI. The consequences of obtaining Swiss nationality

Get in touch to find out more about exactly what obtaining the Swiss nationality would mean for you, in your specific professional and personal situation.

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