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Citizenship by Descent in Switzerland

Citizenship by Descent in Switzerland


Switzerland recognizes jus sanguinis, meaning the right of blood, which allows individuals to acquire Swiss citizenship by descent. This principle grants citizenship to individuals born to at least one Swiss parent, irrespective of their place of birth. Swiss citizenship can be passed down through generations, allowing descendants of Swiss citizens to claim citizenship, provided they meet specific eligibility criteria. 

Below, our immigration lawyers in Switzerland explain the most relevant conditions under which Swiss citizenship by descent can be obtained. We encourage you to use our services, no matter the way you want to relocate to this country.

Persons qualifying for citizenship by descent in Switzerland

Compared to other countries, Switzerland does not automatically grant citizenship to a person born here from foreign parents. In other words, only the following persons can be eligible for Swiss citizenship by descent:

  • children born of married parents, where at least one of them is a Swiss citizen;
  • children born of unmarried women who are Swiss citizens;
  • children born of unmarried men who are Swiss citizens and who acknowledge their paternity before the children reach 22 of age;
  • foreign children below 22 years old who have lived in Switzerland at least with their parents but were not included in the naturalization request.

In summary, citizenship by descent in Switzerland refers to the acquisition of Swiss citizenship based on the nationality of one or both parents. Individuals born abroad to at least one Swiss parent may be eligible to claim Swiss citizenship by descent. Once citizenship by descent is established, individuals gain the same rights and privileges as Swiss citizens, including the ability to live and work in Switzerland without restrictions.

Switzerland also provides for citizenship by renaturalization for persons who lost their Swiss citizenship and can prove their ties to this country. Its procedure can be explained by our lawyers.

 Quick Facts 
 Means to acquire citizenship in SwitzerlandNaturalization, marriage and ancestry are the main ways to gain citizenship in Switzerland 

 Special requirement to get Swiss citizenship by descent

Citizenship by descent can be awarded based on the relation with a Swiss citizen 

 Access to citizenship based on the relation with Swiss parents (YES/NO)

YES, at least one of the parents must be a Swiss citizen in order for the child to obtain citizenship by descent 

 Access to citizenship based on the relation with  Swiss grandparents (YES/NO)NO, Switzerland does not grant citizenship based on kinship with grandparents 
 Access to citizenship based on a relation with other relatives (YES/NO)

NO, there is no option to be related to other Swiss relatives to gain citizenship by ancestry 

 Authorities in charge of the issuance of Swiss documents

Swiss Migration Service 

 Duration to process the documents (approx.)

 It can take up to 12 months for the application to be processed

 Special procedure to complete to gain citizenship by ancestry

 Proof of having ties to Switzerland is required

 Degree of difficulty in obtaining citizenship

Citizenship by descent is one of the easiest ways to get a Swiss passport 

 Option to apply for citizenship by other means (YES/NO) Naturalization is an option to acquire citizenship
 Renaturalization option (YES/NO)

YES, renaturalization is also available for people who lost Swiss citizenship 

 Specific requirements applicable at cantonal level (YES/NO)

YES, each canton has specific regulations in terms of the application for Swiss citizenship by descent 

 Possibility to obtain citizenship as a spouse of a Swiss descendent (YES/NO)

No, the spouse can obtain a residence permit for Switzerland 

 Support in applying for citizenship by descent (YES/NO)

 YES, our lawyers are at the service of persons who want to apply for Swiss citizenship by ancestry

 Other immigration services (YES/NO) YES, we offer support in applying for B and C permits for Switzerland

How to apply for citizenship by birth in Switzerland?

Before starting the citizenship application procedure, you can request our services to see if you meet the eligibility criteria so that you can benefit from the simplified procedure.

You should know that each canton has its procedures, which is why you can obtain our entire support to obtain citizenship by descent in Switzerland as soon as possible. The following documents must be filed with the cantonal authorities:

  • your passport;
  • proof of having ties to Switzerland;
  • proof of payment of the application fee.

The application procedure can take up to 12 months, which is why we recommend using tailored immigration services for this purpose.

How can a person obtain citizenship in Switzerland?

Just like other countries, Switzerland provides several ways through which citizenship can be obtained. These are:

  1. citizenship by birth or descent is one of the simplest ways of becoming a Swiss citizen;
  2. citizenship by naturalization is available in Switzerland, however, the conditions are very strict;
  3. citizenship by adoption is also available for persons who were adopted by Swiss citizens;
  4. citizenship by marriage can also be obtained by foreign persons married to Swiss citizens;
  5. Switzerland also grants citizenship to refugees based on specific criteria.

There are also certain exceptions and cases of persons who can obtain Swiss citizenship under special provisions. Our immigration law firm in Switzerland can advise on how to obtain residency or citizenship.

A family reunion is an option for those who have family members here and want to move to Switzerland. However, it is worth noting that currently new regulations have been put in place. These imply having a good knowledge of one of the official languages spoken here, so make sure you meet this requirement first. The minimum requirement for language proficiency, which is determined by a phased model and distinguishes between oral and written skills, must be met. 

Should you have inquiries regarding language tests before immigrating to Switzerland, our team of lawyers is readily available to assist. Additionally, our legal services extend to aiding individuals interested in applying for a C permit in Switzerland. We ensure that you receive guidance and support at every step, facilitating a smooth journey towards achieving your residency goals in Switzerland.

You can also read about Swiss citizenship by descent in the infographic below:

Navigating Swiss citizenship laws for Swiss nationals born abroad

Abroad, Swiss citizenship doesn’t automatically transfer from one generation to the next. Simply having a Swiss great-grandfather doesn’t guarantee eligibility for the Swiss passport. In practice, Swiss nationals born abroad lose their citizenship once they surpass 22 years of age if they hold another nationality and haven’t expressed a desire to retain their Swiss citizenship.

Failure to notify authorities before this age results in the loss of Swiss citizenship and subsequent generations won’t be able to claim it. To preserve Swiss citizenship, individuals must formally request it from Swiss authorities before turning 22. If currently residing abroad, applications should be made to the Swiss representative in the respective country. For those temporarily in Switzerland, contacting the Cantonal Citizenship Office of their home canton is advised. Our lawyers offer help if you are planning to acquire Swiss citizenship through origin

How long does it take to obtain citizenship in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, a person can obtain Swiss citizenship in 10 years, if he or she migrated here based on a residence permit. Fast-track citizenship can be obtained through marriage and by those with at least one Swiss parent.

Obtaining citizenship by descent in Switzerland enters the category of a fast-track citizenship application even if you are abroad. In this case, our lawyers can keep you updated on your case.

Do not hesitate to get in touch with our team if you are interested in relocating to Switzerland. We invite you to watch our video below:

Dual citizenship in Switzerland 

Since January 1, 1992, Switzerland has upheld the right to dual nationality without constraints. Swiss law permits individuals acquiring Swiss citizenship to retain their previous citizenship, thereby facilitating dual nationality. 

However, it’s crucial to note that laws regarding citizenship vary across countries, and acquiring citizenship in Switzerland may trigger an automatic loss of citizenship in one’s country of origin. Our Swiss immigration lawyers specialize in navigating the complexities of international citizenship laws. 

If you’re from a specific country and are considering acquiring Swiss citizenship, our lawyers can provide personalized guidance to assess the implications for your current citizenship status. We will meticulously examine the laws of your country of origin to determine whether acquiring Swiss citizenship by descent would result in the loss of your existing citizenship. With our expertise, we ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of the potential consequences and assist you in making informed decisions regarding dual nationality and immigration to Switzerland.

Swiss citizenship acquisition and dual citizenship population statistics

If you are planning to move to Switzerland, please have a look at the data provided below. The data presents statistics regarding the acquisition of Swiss citizenship and the Swiss resident population with dual citizenship for the years 2020, 2021, and 2022:

  • The total number of individuals acquiring Swiss citizenship has seen a steady increase over the three years, rising from 34.1 thousand in 2020 to 41.5 thousand in 2022;
  • When considering gender, both males and females contributed to this increase. In 2020, 16.5 thousand males and 17.6 thousand females acquired Swiss citizenship. These numbers rose to 19.6 thousand males and 21.8 thousand females in 2022;
  • The population holding dual citizenship, residing in Switzerland, has also shown an upward trend over the three years. The number of individuals with dual citizenship increased from 1,028.3 thousand in 2020 to 1,095.0 thousand in 2022;
  • Similarly, the percentage of Swiss residents with dual citizenship increased gradually from 19.0% in 2020 to 20.1% in 2022, indicating a growing trend of dual citizenship among residents.

If you are planning to obtain Swiss citizenship through heritage, it is recommended to hire legal help. Obtaining Swiss citizenship through heritage can be a convoluted process, governed by intricate laws and stringent requirements. 

Our immigration lawyers in Switzerland offer comprehensive legal assistance for various matters beyond citizenship acquisition, including obtaining a B permit. Whether you’re seeking residency for employment or family reunification purposes, our experienced team provides tailored guidance throughout the application process. From assessing eligibility to navigating documentation requirements and liaising with authorities, we ensure a smooth journey towards acquiring your Swiss B permit, simplifying the complexities of immigration law for our clients.

Contact us for assistance in navigating the process of acquiring citizenship by descent in Switzerland. Our team of immigration lawyers specializes in guiding individuals through the intricate steps involved in proving Swiss lineage and securing citizenship based on parental nationality. With our assistance, you can streamline the application process and confidently pursue your Swiss citizenship by descent.