People erroneously treated as Swiss citizens

If you have believed for at least five years in good faith that you are a Swiss citizen, and during this period the cantonal or communal authorities have in fact treated you as a Swiss citizen, you can apply for simplified naturalisation.

Requirements

You must genuinely have been completely unaware that that you are not in fact a Swiss citizen. Your belief that you are a Swiss citizen must have arisen from or been confirmed by the conduct of a cantonal or communal authority towards you. This conduct must not be open to interpretation. It arises in particular if the authority has issued you with identity documents stating that you are a Swiss national, even though in reality you are not.

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If you live in Switzerland: What does ‘being successfully integrated’ mean?

The simplified naturalisation procedure requires that you be successfully integrated. You are successfully integrated into Swiss society in particular if you:

  • show respect for public security and order, for example by paying your taxes on time, not being the subject of debt collection proceedings, not having any certified unpaid debts and not having a criminal record;
  • show respect for the values enshrined in the Federal Constitution
  • can communicate in a national language in everyday situations, both orally and in writing;
  • participate in economic life or acquire an education; this also means that you have not claimed social assistance benefits in the three years before applying or you have repaid in full any social assistance benefits claimed;
  • encourage and support your family members in their efforts to integrate.

Appropriate account is taken of your situation if you are unable to participate in economic life, acquire an education or get the required language skills because of disability or illness or for other significant personal circumstances, or can only do so with difficulty.

In addition, you must not pose a threat to Switzerland’s internal or external security.

Language requirements if you live in Switzerland

You must be able to communicate in a national language in everyday situations, both orally and in writing. At the time that you submit your application, you must prove that you have written language skills of at least A2 level and spoken language skills of at least B1 level.

Detailed information on the language passport
List of recognised language certificates (PDF, 592 kB, 01.01.2021)
FAQs on simplified naturalisation

Sprachförderkonzept des Bundes
(Federal language support programme. Available in German, French and Italian)
  

Where can I get the application form?

If you live in Switzerland, you can order the application form by email directly from the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) at ch@sem.admin.ch, indicating your exact postal address. The form will be sent to you by post and must be submitted, duly completed, to SEM by post.
  


If you live abroad: What does ‘having close ties with Switzerland’ mean?

You have close ties with Switzerland if you:

  • have stayed in Switzerland at least three times for a minimum of five days each within the last six years prior to making your application;
  • can communicate in everyday situations in one of Switzerland’s four national languages;
  • have a basic knowledge of Switzerland’s geography, history, politics and society;
  • maintain contact with Swiss citizens.

You must know people living in Switzerland who are able to confirm that these requirements are met.

In addition, you must

  • show respect for public security and order;
  • show respect for the values set out in the Federal Constitution;
  • participate in economic life or acquire an education, and
  • encourage and support your family members in their efforts to integrate, and
  • not pose a threat to Switzerland’s internal or external security.

Appropriate account is taken of your situation if you are unable to participate in economic life, acquire an education or acquire the required language skills because of disability or illness or for other significant personal circumstances, or can only do so with difficulty.
  

Where can I get the application form?

If you live abroad, you can request the application form from your nearest Swiss representation; you must submit the completed form to this representation.
  


What documents do I have to submit?

All the documents on the ‘List of required documents’ must be submitted together with the application form and annexes as well as the duly signed list of required documents.

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) decides on cases of simplified naturalisation.
  

Further information

Handbook on citizenship, chapter 6: Persons who erroneously believe they are Swiss citizens (Section 61)
in German (PDF, 310 kB, 13.07.2020)
in French (PDF, 313 kB, 13.07.2020)
in Italian (PDF, 567 kB, 13.07.2020)

Last modification 02.03.2021

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