published in the CERN Bulletins no. 15-16-17/2009
1. Persons residing in Switzerland
1.1 Holders of a B, C, D, E or P-type "carte de légitimation"
For holders of a B, C, D, E or P-type "carte de légitimation" issued by the Swiss Federal Department for Foreign Affairs (DFAE), current non-Swiss national driving licences are valid in Switzerland.
If they so wish, holders of such driving licences may apply to the relevant road licensing authority in the canton where they live (Office cantonal des Automobiles et de la Navigation; for Geneva call +41 22 388 30 30, website http://www.ge.ch/san; for Vaud call +41 21 316 82 10, website http://www.san.vd.ch/index.html) to exchange their driving licence for an equivalent Swiss licence (they must pass a test if they are not citizens of countries with which Switzerland has concluded an agreement on this matter, e.g. Member States of the European Union, the United States and Japan). However, such an exchange is not possible if the driving licence was issued in a foreign country during a stay there of less than six months while the person concerned was officially resident in Switzerland, or if the foreign driving license was obtained less than one year before taking up residence in Switzerland. In such cases, a “learner-driver” permit (permis d'élève-conducteur), respectively a "probation license" (permis à l'essai) may be requested.
Holders of driving licences issued in a language other than one of Switzerland’s four official languages (French, German, Italian, Romansch) or English are recommended to obtain an international driving licence from the relevant road licensing authority in the canton where they live.
Drivers who cease to hold a B, C, D, E or P-type "carte de légitimation" must obtain a Swiss driving licence.
1.2 Holders of other documents
For persons who do not hold a B, C, D, E or P-type "carte de légitimation", a current non-Swiss national driving licence is valid in Switzerland for eighteen months from the date on which they take up residence in the country. Holders of driving licences issued in a language other than one of Switzerland’s four official languages (French, German, Italian, Romansch) or English are recommended to obtain an international driving licence.
After eighteen months of residence in Switzerland without an interruption of more than three consecutive months, a Swiss driving licence must be obtained (e.g. by exchanging a non-Swiss national driving licence). This obligation applies, in particular, to holders of an "attestation de fonctions" issued by the DFAE. If they so wish, they may apply for a Swiss licence before the end of the above-mentioned eighteen-month period.
For further information, please contact the relevant road licensing authority in the canton where you live (see Paragraph 1.1 above).
2. Persons residing outside Switzerland
For those who do not live in Switzerland but drive there on an occasional basis, current national or international driving licences are valid in Switzerland. Further information can be obtained from the Swiss consulates abroad (see the DFAE website: http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/reps.html).