How I became a Swiss Citizen
If you are not Swiss, one way to become Swiss is to have a Swiss parent.
My Mum is Swiss, in fact she’s Swiss German.
You might wonder why this is important or even relevant.
Switzerland has 4 different linguistic regions. In the order of their importance, these are, German, French, Italian and lastly Romansch.
So Switzerland is divided into 4 separate subcultures each with it’s own identity.
Although My Mum officially comes from the Swiss German part of Switzerland she was actually born in the French speaking part.
Switzerland is divided into Cantons and each Canton has numerous Communes.
Each Swiss Citizen ‘belongs’ to a specific commune.
This can only be modified by a change in civil status such as marriage.
So as my Mum is Swiss you might think that I’m automatically Swiss.
It wasn’t until the eighties that nationality could be transmitted to children born abroad to a Swiss Mother.
This was my case and also that of my brother and sister.
In the eighties, through a change in Swiss Law. My brother and sister, to simplify matters, received their passports and nationality through the post. They both share the same origins (Commune) as our mother.
So I was lucky right?
There was a restriction.
Children had to be born after the 1st of January 1953 and I was born a few years earlier.
To become Swiss I would have had to renounce my British Nationality and send my passport to the Swiss Capital and also pay a sum pro rate to my income.
I didn’t feel like losing my British Nationality so I din’t make the demand.
I felt that this was unjust. Born of the same Mother why would I be less Swiss than my siblings.
To say I was unhappy would be an understatement, more so, because I had already been living in Switzerland for many years and had married a beautiful, intelligent, fabulous Swiss woman and we have two fantastic children (who automatically became Swiss when they were born!)
At that time I was the only Non-Swiss of the family. Both my children shared the same Commune as my wife.
It was a stalemate.
Then the law changed and I was offered the choice of requesting a facilitated naturalisation for a minimal fee.
I seized the opportunity and filled in all the paperwork and waited.
Then I waited some more.
Then I continued to wait.
But I was lucky.
A lot of people who request Swiss Nationality have to prove their ‘Swissness’ and are vetted by officials visiting and scrutinising their homes, their workmates and their friends and family.
The only time I was scrutinised was when I was invited to a Police Station to be interviewed by a Police Officer.
When I was taken to the interrogation room, I was seated opposite an Officer who opened a file, confirmed my identity then said, “We already know all we need to know about you,” and closed the file.
The interview was over.
Then I waited some more.
Then one day I got a telephone call from the Swiss Federal Authorities in Berne.
“Mr Lawrence, we understand you are seeking Swiss Nationality through your Mother but she, of course, belongs to a Swiss German Commune.”
He continued, “Do you understand that when your demand comes through, as you are the head of the family, in Swiss Law, both your wife and your two children will also change their Commune to yours and you will all be Swiss German by origin.”
I felt the growing consternation and panic in my little family.
The official further added, “However if you take your Swiss nationality from your wife, then you will become Swiss French and have her Communal origins.”
So I said OK, that’s fine.
Then I waited some more and finally got my papers through the post and became a Swiss Citizen. Yay!
So that is the story of how I became Swiss and why I don’t share the same Communal origins as my Mother.
This also happens to be the first day of my 500 word challenge (680 words)