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International driving licence

Who needs an international driving licence, which countries require you to have one and how to order one.

The international driving licence is a ‘translation’ of your national licence and is only valid when accompanied by the original licence. You must be able to produce both whenever you drive.

Do I need an international driving licence when driving abroad?

Most European countries accept the Swiss credit-card format driving licence. If you still have an old paper driving licence, it is easy to exchange it at your canton’s road traffic office.

An international driving licence is recommended when driving in countries outside Europe. An international licence is highly recommended when driving in certain countries, such as Albania, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. In other countries the international driving licence is compulsory. Many car-hire firms also require you to have an international driving licence.

Ask your travel agent or the consular service of your destination country which driving documents are required.

Ordering an international driving licence

To order an international driving licence in person at your canton’s road traffic office, you will need the following:

  • a passport photo 
  • a Swiss driving licence in credit card format

You can also order an international driving licence by post by sending a passport photo and a photocopy of your Swiss driving licence (both sides) to your canton’s road traffic office along with a brief note stating that you wish to order an international driving licence.

Validity and fee

The international driving licence is valid for three years and cannot be renewed. If your foreign licence is valid for less than three years, the international licence may not be valid for longer than your normal licence.

The fee for issuing an international driving licence varies from canton to canton.

Driving in Switzerland on a foreign driving licence

People from abroad may drive in Switzerland for private purposes for up to a year as long as they are old enough to drive in Switzerland (e.g. 18 years old to drive a passenger car) and hold a valid national driving licence. If the permitted vehicle categories are not listed in the Roman alphabet on the foreign licence, an international licence is required.

Convert a foreign driving licence