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M. A is a French citizen, holding a fully valid French driver license, living near the Swiss border in French territory and working in Switzerland

The rule in Switzerland, as it isn't in the EU/EEA, is that are allowed to drive for 12 months on your foreign license before you need to exchange the French license for a Swiss license

It seems that the 12 months are counted based on your residence permit, but how does that work if you aren't living in Switzerland and only go to work there?

Swiss administration says :

The following drivers must hold a Swiss driving licence:

foreign drivers of motorised vehicles who have lived in Switzerland for more than 12 months and without interruption of more than three consecutive months;

What do they mean by living in the paragraph?

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    I think that one is not a resident when they are a travailleur transfrontalier, and therefore Mr A can use it's french driving license.
    – audionuma
    Commented Dec 23, 2022 at 17:08
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    But M. A hasn't lived in Switzerland, why is it even a concern?
    – littleadv
    Commented Dec 24, 2022 at 8:38

1 Answer 1

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Frontaliers are not required to have a Swiss driving licence for non-professional categories (e.g. A and B), as by definition they cannot have their principal civil domicile in Switzerland (but residence definitions may be different for other purposes, e.g. fiscal domicile, health insurances etc.).

The frontalier authorization G is not a residence authorization (it is distinct from autorisation de séjour, de courte séjour, et d'établissment), although the authorization is inscribed on a residence permit document.

You do not, for example, have the right to become a permanent resident (with a settlement permit C) of Switzerland, no matter how long you have worked for a Swiss company with a G permit.

Nonetheless, a frontalier may have a secondary residence in Switzerland, but they must return to their foreign domicile at least once a week. For those who have a weekly residence in Switzerland (frontaliers semainiers), the regulations define their domicile as that of their family:

Est réputé domicile du résident à la semaine le domicile de sa famille s’il y retourne régulièrement deux fois par mois en moyenne.

Consistent with the general definition of the civil domicile, the provision is destined to make the domicile for driving licensing purposes the one where they have the intention to return to.

In any case, if you will drive a Swiss-registered motor vehicle professionally (requiring categories C/C1, D/D1, or passenger transport authorizations), you require a Swiss driving licence following Swiss rules (e.g. medical exams).

The rules for foreign vehicles themselves are different. For customs purposes as well, frontaliers (daily or weekly) are not considered Swiss residents. You may not use a foreign-registered car for any professional purposes (e.g. driving inside Switzerland to meet with clients). You also need to obtain a customs clearance or authorization if you use your car in Switzerland for more than six months within a one-year period.

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  • Does this apply to e.g. TPG drivers on cross-border routes? Come to think of it, I haven't noticed whether those vehicles are all registered in Switzerland or if some are registered in France. (During a recent TPG strike there was some commentary that strikes are rare in Switzerland and that the influence of the frontaliers must be significant, as strikes are well known to be much more common in France, but I don't know whether TPG actually employs many frontaliers among its drivers. And anyway many Swiss people will tell you Geneva is not Switzerland.)
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 8:52

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