Which language exam to take? Goethe vs Telc vs SDS vs FIDE?

Hello Guys,
which exam do you suggest to take for having a basic language certification of German? I saw that the accepted ones are Goethe, Telc, SDS and FIDE.
Goethe and Telc are very famous; FIDE is the public one; about SDS I could not find basically any info a part what’s written in their website.

Any one having more info or direct experience with SDS?

In general, which one do you suggest to certify a level somewhere around B2?


My guess is that, for B2 level, in Switzerland, they’re all mostly equivalent. I’ve personally done a Goethe but that’s because I haven’t even searched for alternatives when I decided to get some sort of certificate for my German level. My guess is that any institution that seriously wants to assess whether or not you are able to handle German at the level they need would probably test you themselves so would not necessarily care too much about which paper you actually got.

My guess would be that FIDE and SDS would have less recognition internationally. I didn’t know telc before you mentioned it (nor did I SDS) and can’t really speak of it.

What are the prices? 

1 Like

I think it really depends on what your goal is. If it’s to satisfy immigration or citizenship requirements, my impression is that things like KDE or SDS are easier.

(Tests are shorter and focus more on everyday life)

For professional recognition etc, I think you’d want a proper one tho (Goethe I guess).


I recently passed my B2 Telc exam. I was told that the Goethe is highly recognized in Switzerland, but not necessarily in all countries. Telc is the best for international value.

Sorry to hijack the post, but for the C permit we need A2 spoken and A1 written.
What is the easiest certification to get to get this?

I’d probably go with SDS, especially if you end up with a nice surprise and end up with B1/A2 instead (which can be used for naturalization).

(From what I understand with SDS you don’t target a specific level, they tell you which level your reached instead).

1 Like

Not sure if they change it, but if you are part of a Schengen country not even that.

1 Like

This has changed, there are language requirements for C permit for everyone now (except those speaking the same language as your cantonal language) regardless of prior bilaterals.

(and it wasn’t about Schengen, but specific bilateral, only some countries enjoyed them)


I recently did the FIDE test and it was pretty straight forward. You can only do up to B1 level on FIDE, so for permits and naturalisation purposes it is more than sufficient. For professional purposes it may not be that appropriate as the test is really based on mastering everyday life in Switzerland.And it costs CHF250.- for the test.

1 Like

Right, it’s about bilaterals. Only a small number of countries have this exception. But it was still in place last time I checked (around 2 months ago).

I think the cutoff date might be different between cantons, e.g. for Vaud was May 2023: https://www.vd.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/themes/vie_privee/permis_sejours/fichiers_pdf/Schéma-connaissances-linguistiques-LEI-aout-2019.pdf

The change itself dates from 2019: Ausweis C und B : neue Bedingungen | Staat Freiburg

Also I’m not quite sure how it’s applied for renewal (might be different between cantons, but from the link above seems like at least Fribourg asks for it for renewals)

edit: that’s the court decision that confirmed the change 2C_881/2021 09.05.2022 (basically since the 2019 immigration law reform, there’s language requirements for everyone, even if there’s a treaty between countries).

Has anyone here from Germany, Italy, France, … got asked for the language certificate to obtain a C permit?

I remember till few years ago these “border” countries (plus few others) were exempted.

Is this managed at federal level or canton by canton?

Any feedback is very welcome.

We’ve had discussions about required language competence before. I think I do remember that requirements vary by canton.

Keep in mind that you will declare your education history in your application. You will probably be exempt as a native speaker - which will be very obvious in the interview with the municipality (or even before that the administration where you hand in your application).

1 Like

I see your point.
Can you please send me the link of the page in which this has been discussed? Thanks a lot in advance.

Is enough a discussion during the meeting in the commune or a certificate would be needed?

I cannot retrieve where this is mentioned. I am not an expert nor a lawyer. Apologies.

Can you please help?

Think it may be this thread.
There may be different language requirements for 1. obtaining a C permit and 2. naturalisation.

To refer to the naturalisation in the Canton of Berne as an example, the local language must be your mother tongue to be accepted on its own - otherwise you have to present a test/educational qualification. Merely being conversational in the local language does not suffice.

This is at a federal level (based on the change in law from 2019), the language requirement now applies to everyone (you have to have at least A2 oral A1 written for the language spoken where you live, obviously if it’s already your native language, or you studied in that language you don’t need to have a certificate).

My gut feeling tells me the same.

Seems (relatively) cheap, they explicitly advertise it as suitable even for test takers with little educational experience - and it’s an adaptive test indeed, where you don’t have to shoot for a specific level.

If you wanted to put your German skills on your resumé (for a non-menial job), possibly for a target audience beyond Switzerland (Germany, or even international companies elsewhere), I’d probably choose Goethe as - what I believe is - the most well-known/renowned certificate.

Didn’t you just move to Bulle?

I was planning to move to Bulle and the french part but ended up not going and moved to Zurich from Schaffhausen.

I most have an internal sadistic wish to double my rent for a worse apartment :rofl: