I have a US license and a Swiss one. I know that I need an IDP if I was to use the US license when renting a car but does anyone know about Switzerland (given that it's non-EU)? Thanks.
Contact a Greek Embassy in Switzerland to ask about driving with a Swiss license.
Consulat général de Grèce
Rue Pedro Meylan 1
022/735 73 90
022/735 37 47
téléfax 022/786 98 44
Consulat de Grèce
Via Ferruccio Pelli 12
091/921 16 01
téléfax 091/921 10 71
Consulat général de Grèce
Postfach, Bellerivestrasse 67
044/388 55 77
téléfax 044/388 55 70
No, you do not need an IDP (International Driving Permit). A Swiss licence is to EU/EEA standards, and so that is all you need to drive anywhere in the EU (and vice-versa, all EU licences are valid in Switzerland). It is only people from outside Europe (like the USA) that need an IDP.
That is assuming you have the modern Swiss licence, that looks like this: http://www.polizei-schweiz.ch/thumb_uc_34640_w5000_muster_fuehrerausweis.jpg
If you have the old blue cardboard one, that looks like this: http://www.maxlehmann.ch/memoiren/images/940-ausweise/fuehrerausweis-max-gross.jpg that is not valid in other countries, and you need to get it replaced.
I see you are a Swiss resident (like me). If you are resident in Switzerland, you should always be using your Swiss llcence. Using a foreign licence after you have become a resident for 12 months is not allowed.
Legally, if you want to drive in the USA, you must use your Swiss Licence and an IDP based on that licence.
All the posts on this forum or elsewhere that say "you need an IDP" should say "you need an IDP if you do not have an EU/EEA licence", but since many posts take it for granted you are a US citizen and resident, it is not worth correcting them.
If you are a US citizen traveling with a US passport I still think it would be a good idea for you to check with a Greek consul in Switzerland. Better safe than sorry.
Sorry to disagree with you Lee. A passport shows your nationality (citizenship). Driving Licences are normally issued by the country you live in. I am a British citizen, but when I moved to Switzerland I had to exchange my British licence for a Swiss one. I could not have renewed my British Licence anyway, as my address is not in the UK.
The rules are here (website from Zürich Kantonal police): http://www.stva.zh.ch/internet/sicherheitsdirektion/stva/de/StVAaw/AWumschreib.html
It says if you become a resident you have to change to a Swiss licence within 12 months. If you have a licence from an EU/EFTA country (like I did), you just exchange your licence. If you have a licence from another country (e.g. the USA) you have to take a test. I have been told if you try and use a foreign licence after 12 months it is invalid and you can be prosecuted. I use my Swiss licence in the UK and other European countries.
Similar rules apply in other EU/EFTA countries.
I don't dispute what you're offering, not at all. But there is another side of the issue which my comments were intended to address. The Greek Mentality. I should have made myself clear from the start. It has nothing to do with what's right or logical or what Swiss law and/or the EU might permit. If an accident happens to an American citizen in Greece and the police ask for a passport and the IDP and that US citizen can't produce it, the chances are very good that there will be serious trouble ahead and fines involved, not to mention the out-of-pocket costs to repair the vehicles involved, as any insurance coverage will be invalidated because the driver will have been driving illegally. It's up to the police to decide whether or not to accept a Swiss DL, and if they don't that person will be forced to wade through the Greek legal system while on holiday, which will be a nightmare.
Knpanton, if you're a US citizen with a US passport contact a Greek Consulate or get the IDP. Or don't. Obviously it's up to you, but if you have an accident and don't have it you have only yourself to blame.
Lee, if you are stopped by the Greek (or French, Italian or British) police and present a Swiss Driving Licence, that is valid in Greece without an IDP.
If you present a US licence (with or without an IDP), but have a Swiss address, then that licence is not valid because the address on it is false.
I have been in exactly this situation (I have rented a car in Greece, but never been stopped by the police there, but I have in Germany and the UK), presented a British passport and my Swiss licence and address, no problem.
An IDP is only ever valid with the licence for which it is a certified translation.
Knpanton, if you're a US citizen with a US passport contact a Greek Consulate so you know for sure one way or the other. And please let us know what they tell you.
Thanks everyone for your comments. The issue is that I can get an IDP for the Swiss license in time but not for the US one (outside the US this is possible but much more time consuming). I usually avoid driving while on holiday but without a train system or reliable busses much of Greece is really only accessible by car.
For clarity, when you convert your license from US to Swiss, which as Chris F mentioned you must do within 12 months of moving to Switzerland, they allow you to keep the US license with a sticker that indicates that it is not valid in Switzerland. Outside of Switzerland you can use either depending on the advantage or disadvantage provided. Given that I have a US passport with a Swiss visa and residence permit I would think that a Swiss license would be appropriate and acceptable.
That makes sense. Have a great time in Greece!