Language skills for permit C

One of my goals is to get permit C.

It’s been 3 years since I moved to Switzerland (with permit B) and I understand that in order to get permit C, I need to:

  • Live in Switzerland for at least 5 years nonstop
  • Pass the language test B1 spoken, A1 written

Until recently, I thought I could just pass this language test for any language spoken in Switzerland (German, French, Italian…).

After some research, I understood that it’s the language of the canton where I live. Is that correct?

The reason I am asking is that I have been living in Vaud which is French-speaking but I wanted to do the test in German (as I am much better at it). Now, I wonder if I change the place of my residence to a German-speaking canton, can I still apply for permit C after 2 years of living in another canton? (3+2)

If none of the above is possible, then I guess I am just left with learning French to quite a good level.
Many thanks for any advice.

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Uh… not sure if I‘d award you a C permit either.

But seriously, there’s different rules depending on your current citizenship(s), so you may want to state that in asking the question.

Also the B1 they ask isn’t super high, if you’re able to to slightly integrate you probably will pass it.

Lol, fixed that mistake. Sorry about that.
My citizenship is Slovak (EU member).

Just read through this article. Seems it really has to be the language spoken in the canton.

So the remaining question is if I move tomorrow to a German-speaking canton, will I still be able to apply in 2 years?

Why consult foreign lawyer’s websites, when it seems you can get the info straight from “the source”?

Transformation d'un permis B en permis C | État de Vaud

:point_right: Seems pretty straightforward to me:

  • need 10 years of residence
  • or 5 if in good financial standing and employed (this is a Mustachian forum, so we assume you are)
  • and need B1 spoken French, yes (A1 written French will be a piece of cake)

You have to indeed have a certificate for the language of the Kanton at a B1 level (I think one of the 3 parts listening, writing or speaking can be A2 but I can remember which). It’s usually a pretty easy exam and you can study for it directly, even if your skills are lower in the real world.
I am Romanian and I got my C after having B for 5 years. It would normally be 10 years but I applied for an exception because I had the language certificate certificate already.
It was a reasonably straight-forward process.


Does anyone know if for extending B permit for EU nationals are there any language exams/certificates required? I plan to apply for citizenship after 10 years in Switzerland, so I would rather like to pass required exams for this, than passing some now (to get another 5 ye and then later again for higher requirements…

BTW - it seems that language requirements for going from B to C will get stricter in May - for the nationals who were so far on exception list:

From May 1st, 2023: Nationals of non-French speaking European countries who have a settlement agreement with Switzerland must provide a language certificate when applying for a settlement permit (C permit). The countries concerned are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

You’re aware that you must be holder of a C permit to apply for ordinary naturalisation?

You can‘t „skip“ the permanent residence „C“ and go straight from „B“ to citizenship (…anymore).


I guess it doesn’t affect my plan which currently is:

  1. Get B extension for next 5 years - hopefully “automatic” without any language requirements - this is the part I don’t know yet.
  2. In the next 5 years period pass the exams required for naturalisation (I think that requirements are a bit higher than just for C).
  3. Get C permit and start naturalisation process.

I hope this sound reasonable :slight_smile:

Btw couldn’t figure it out, does that apply to C renewal? Eg having a C permit without lang req due to being in exception list, what happens for renewal?

(Kinda hypothetical for me since I passed the KDE since, but wondering)

Why not just do the effort to reach B1+ quickly? :slight_smile:

That really depends on your canton and even your commune.
Some are much stricter than others.


Unfortunately, I don’t know - this is what I saw when I was looking for the info on requirements for B renewal. And to be honest - it surprised me, so I thought it is worth sharing (even though I’m Polish so I’m not affected, as Poland was never on exception list).

As you said, this would be an effort :slight_smile:, which I would prefer to avoid now, especially that reaching B1+ won’t be that easy in few months we have left (anyone knows if it easier to pass the exam at DELF or those done specifically for the purpose of permits?). Even considering that finally, due to renovation project, I was forced to start speaking French. I really needed this push :grin:.

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As I understood it, the renewal of the settlement (C) permit is basically unconditional. The only exception being convicted for criminal activities and dependency on social welfare (see 2nd question of section 4 on this page).


Actually not clear with the new rules:

Ich habe eine Niederlassungsbewilligung (Ausweis C). Kann diese zurückgestuft werden?

Ja, eine Niederlassungsbewilligung (Ausweis C) kann widerrufen und durch eine Aufenthaltsbewilligung (Ausweis B) ersetzt werden, wenn die Integrationskriterien nicht erfüllt sind (sogenannte Rückstufung).


Reading the court case is kinda funny. It had nothing to do with language skills (was about a german citizen in Zurich who had debt) but ended up having so much impact mostly around language.

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Yes, they‘re taking debt seriously.

Imagine if this were the U.S., on the other hand. I mean… can you really claim being well integrated into U.S. society without being or having been in debt?

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Quick question, some UE countries don’t need any language skills for permit C right?

Last time I checked, Portuguese didn’t need any language skills to apply for the permit C

Only until May 2023 (in Vaud), see link and @baldur ’s post above,

Thank you! I wonder if the same will happen in Zurich