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How do you become Swiss? Who has the right to naturalization? After how many years? swissinfo.ch has collected questions from our readers. Here are 10 answers to 10 questions.

This content was published on July 18, 2017 - 4:00 p.m.

1) I am an Italian citizen and I live in Italy, but I was born in Switzerland where my parents lived and worked for decades. Can I apply for Swiss citizenship?

No. In Switzerland, ancestry is decisive for citizenship ("ius sanguinis") and not the place of birth. Therefore, being born in Switzerland or having parents who have lived here for a long time does not confer any right to Swiss citizenship. Only those who live in Switzerland, have Swiss ancestors or are married to a Swiss citizen can apply for a Swiss passport.

2) If my children were born in Switzerland, will they automatically be granted Swiss citizenship, even if both parents are foreign citizens?

No. In contrast to other countries such as the USA, Spain or France, Switzerland has no "ius soli". Being born in Switzerland does not automatically give you a Swiss passport.

3) I am a German citizen who has lived and worked in Switzerland for several years: under what conditions can I apply for a Swiss passport?

A foreigner can apply for naturalization if he has lived in Switzerland for at least 12 years (youth between 10 and 20 are counted twice). From January 1, 2018, this period will be reduced to 10 years when the new Civil Rights Act comes into force. The candidates must also meet further requirements: They should be integrated, know the traditions and customs of the country, observe the Swiss legal system, not endanger Switzerland's security and be able to express themselves orally and in writing in at least one national language.

4) Do I have to have lived in Switzerland for 12 years or can several stays be added together?

The twelve years in Switzerland do not have to have been spent here consecutively. An applicant may have lived in Switzerland for a certain period of time, then abroad for a few years and then returned to Switzerland. Usually, however, candidates must have lived in a particular municipality for at least the past two years.

5) How does the naturalization process work? How can you prepare and how much does it cost?

The conditions and procedures for the external link differ greatly from one canton to another, as do the costs (between 500 and 2000 francs). In some municipalities, the authorities can pay the candidate a "surprise visit" at home or require a minimum period of residence on municipal territory (usually between 2 and 5 years).

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SRF, Rundschau from January 7th, 2015

6) I am a Swiss citizen but live abroad. Are my children Swiss?

Yes. If the mother or father is a Swiss citizen, the children automatically become Swiss citizensExternal Link. However, dual citizens born abroad lose their Swiss citizenship if they do not report to the authorities by the age of 22.

7) My mother / or my grandmother were Swiss before they married. Can I "get back" my Swiss citizenship?

Yes, descendants of Swiss citizens can "get back" citizenship under certain conditions. This applies particularly to those people who were born before 1985 to a Swiss mother who lost her citizenship as a result of marriage. The new law, which comes into force on January 1, 2018, provides stricter rules. In the future, a Swiss grandmother will no longer be enough for the red passport.

8) If I apply for Swiss citizenship, do I have to renounce my other nationality?

Swiss law allows dual citizenship. The same applies to practically all European countries, including Germany, Italy and France. In Austria, however, dual citizenship is only granted in exceptional cases, for example for people of Arnold Schwarzenegger's caliber.

9) My wife is Swiss. Can I also apply for a Swiss passport as a married man?

Yes, since 1992 men and women have been treated equally when marrying a foreign citizen. A person can apply for simplified naturalization if they have been married to a Swiss citizen for at least three years, have lived in Switzerland for five years at a time and have lived in Switzerland for at least one year. They must also be integrated, know the Swiss way of life and be able to express themselves in a national language.

10) If I am married to a Swiss woman but live abroad, can I apply for Swiss citizenship?

Yes, but the conditions are differentExternal Link than for couples who live in Switzerland. The applicant must have been married to the Swiss partner for at least six years and demonstrate close ties to Switzerland. That means mastering a national language, maintaining contact with Swiss citizens and having spent holidays in Switzerland.

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