Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Swiss gave me a driver's license

And in record time!

Switzerland recognizes American licenses for a year after a move into the country. However, my Maryland license expires on my birthday at the end of this month. So, I was in a bit of a bind and had to apply for my Swiss license early.

A friend sent me the link to the application online and Brian was gracious enough to translate and fill it out for me.

Since they were so helpful I only had two tasks: to get an eye exam and to take my completed application to the Strassenverkehrsamt (say that three times fast, if you can say it at all).*

So off I went to the local Optik store for an eye exam. I easily passed since I was wearing my contacts. The man who gave me the exam asked my prescription and, amazingly enough, I remembered it. He just looked at me, smiled, and said, "Yes, no driving without your contacts then!" I replied, "Sir, I can barely walk without my contacts. Trust me, I don't drive without them!"

Ahhh, so much fun to have crappy vision. But I digress.

Next up was a stop at the DMV, or the Strassenverkehrsamt. I was last there in July and I still haven't learned how to pronounce it.

Like the DMV, the Strassenverkehrsamt handles all things dealing with vehicles and drivers. That's basically where the similarities end. I showed up at 9 am on a Thursday morning and walked right up to a counter. Seriously.

The woman didn't speak English but the form speaks for itself. I just needed to sign the application (with black ink!). She graciously glued my passport photo to the application for me and then took my Maryland license and copied my residence permit. And that was that.

Today, just four working days after dropping my application off there, I received my Swiss driver's license in the mail. I also received my soon to be expired Maryland license in a separate envelope with a little orange sticker on the back that says "Not valid in Switzerland."

After opening the envelope I quickly turned on my computer's webcam to snap the picture above. And then I sent it to Brian, who replied that I was "arguably the biggest dork ever."

That's okay. I'm comfortable in my dorkiness. He's just jealous because he doesn't have a Swiss driver's license anyway!

*I've been told you can also take the application to your local Gemeinde house. However, this process takes longer than going to the Strassenverkehrsamt.


Jessica said...

THIS IS AWESOME! I was just talking with Jace today about how we have to do this still. Thanks for the 411!!!

Jessica said...

Can you please post the link for the application!? :)

mrsmac said...

I will Jess! Somehow I deleted the email so I hope to get the link from my friend again. When I get it I will edit this post with the link and email you!

grammie said...

Fantastic. I love the Swiss efficiency and I miss it.
You look great Megs and so happy.
Great job adapting to a new Country.

Hugs and Love to all,

De Campo said...

I heard a rumor that Swiss cops won’t chase you if you run from them. If it’s not too much trouble, please run a checkpoint at Ikea and run this theory to ground for me. Thanks!

Libby said...


Reama said...

You don't look like a dork. Sheesh, Bryan... 'Sides, you might not be able to say "Strassenverkehrsamt" but you can spell it. ;-)

Jenny said...

So is your US license still valid (if it wasn't expired)? I am trying to find out what to do if I get a Swiss license and then go back to the US for a short period of time (my issue is mainly with insurance coverage).

mrsmac said...

Jenny- My US license, if it was still valid (it already expired), would only be valid in the states and other countries that recognize US licenses (if I was to go driving through Europe). It is no longer valid in CH.

I did some google searches though and it looks like some states recognize Swiss licenses. So my plan is to drive on my Swiss license to the DMV when I get back to get my US license renewed.

Hope that helps!