Whether a child born from a Swiss father and a foreign mother would have a right to Swiss citizenship, if the parents were in a common-law relationship for five years before they became estranged (2002-2003) [CHE41022.E]

A representative of the Embassy of Switzerland in Ottawa stated the following in correspondence sent to the Research Directorate:

A child born from a Swiss father and a foreign mother (or, vice versa, from a Swiss mother and a foreign father) automatically becomes a Swiss citizen if the parents are married at the time of birth. If the parents are not married at the child's birth, however, the child becomes a Swiss citizen only if the mother is Swiss. A child born from a Swiss father who is not married to the foreign mother at the child's birth ... does therefore not become Swiss automatically, unless the parents get married while the child is under legal age (18). If the parents do not get married, the child can request Swiss citizenship until the age of 22 if one of the following applies: a) the child has been living in Switzerland for one year, b) the child has been living with the father for one year, c) the child can maintain having a long-lasting close relationship with the father, or d) the child is stateless. Even beyond the age of 22, the child can request Swiss citizenship if it has resided in Switzerland for three years in total, including at least the year before the request.
A revision of the Swiss citizenship law is underway, but not yet in force, according to which, among other issues, a child of a Swiss father who is not married to a foreign mother would become Swiss automatically, therefore rendering obsolete the above-mentioned distinction according to the sex of the Swiss parent (24 Apr. 2003).

The representative added that "[t]he expression 'spouse' refers to 'married' and does not include unmarried couples under the Swiss citizenship law" (Switzerland 24 Apr. 2003).

Further corroborating information can be found in the October 2002 Council of Europe document and in a 6 March 2002 Swiss Embassy fact sheet, both of which are referenced below.

For more information on the Swiss law on nationality, please see CHE36392.E of 12 February 2001.

The full French version of the Swiss Law of 29 September 1952 on the Acquisition and Loss of Citizenship is available on the Website of the Swiss federal authorities at ?http://www.admin.ch/ch/f/rs/1/141.0.fr.pdf?.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Council of Europe (COE). October 2002. European Bulletin on Nationality. "Switzerland." http://www.coe.int/T/E/Legal_Affairs/Legal_co-operation/Foreigners_and_citizens/Nationality/Documents/Bulletin_and_national_legislation/1European%20Bulletin%20Nationality.asp#TopOfPage [Accessed 9 Apr. 2003]

Switzerland. 24 April 2003. Embassy of Switzerland in Ottawa. Correspondence received from a representative.

______. 6 March 2002. Swiss Embassy - Washington D.C. "How Do Your Children Become or Remain Swiss Citizens?" http://www.swissemb.org/cslaff/fact/factchi.pdf [Accessed 9 Apr. 2003]

______. 29 September 1952. Loi fédérale sur l'acquisition et la perte de la nationalité suisse. http://www.admin.ch/ch/f/rs/1/141.0.fr.pdf [Accessed 9 Apr. 2003]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Internet sites, including:

Authorities of the Swiss Confederation

Council of Europe (COE) (European Bulletin on Nationality)

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)

Organisation of the Swiss Abroad

Swiss Embassy, Washington

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Search engines, including:



Associated documents