What is the Fide language passport?

By Anouche Karaman 26-01-2020


What is the Fide language passport?



Who does it concern?


Basically all non-Swiss-nationals may be concerned and need to prove their level of local language knowledge (principally to show their integration). Are affected by the new law:

Dependents with non-EU-nationality aged at least 18 years applying for a B-permit or an extension of a B-permit or all non-Swiss-nationals applying for a C-permit (unless a treaty provides for an unreserved right to a C-permit), an extension of a C-permit, Swiss citizenship applicants.

As per the revised law, dependents with non-EU nationality aged 18 or over who apply for a B-permit must be able to demonstrate either:

  • their speaking and writing skills in the language spoken in the region of Switzerland in which they live or intend to relocate to upon presentation of a language certificate (Level: at least A1); or
  • that they are at least enrolled in a language course which will lead to the acquisition of the above-mentioned language skills.


The new law does not stipulate how quickly the required language skills must be acquired and so far the authorities have not established a consistent practice throughout all Swiss cantons. In particular, it is not clear at present whether individuals who already hold a valid permit may be required to file (i.e., obtain in some cases) a language certificate before expiry of their permit.

Thus, it is likely that for the time being regional/cantonal differences will apply. It is expected that the upcoming months will provide more clarity and consistency. Applicants and holders of B-permits are, however, advised to obtain certification of their language skills as soon as possible.

In case of non-compliance with the new law, individuals may be required to conclude an “integration agreement” setting standards for the level of integration they are expected to reach and the measures to be taken in order to reach this level.

C-permit holders who do not meet the required language skills and/or fail to comply with an integration agreement may be relegated to a temporary residence status (B-permit).

B-permit-holders not complying with an integration agreement may lose their right to stay in Switzerland.

Foreigners with a Swiss national language as their mother tongue will be considered to have adequate knowledge of a Swiss national language. The same applies for foreigners who have completed three years of compulsory schooling in a Swiss national language.

Until 31 December 2019, the language test to demonstrate the required language level may in theory be obtained from institutions that are not officially accredited. However, as cantonal differences may exist in practice, it is advisable to check with the competent authorities before completing a language course and test.

As of 1 January 2020 the language certificate must be obtained from one of the following accredited institutions: FIDE, DELF-DALF, TCF.


What is the FIDE language passport?

The language passport is a document that demonstrates oral and written competence in one or more of the national languages: French, German and Italian. It can be presented: to the authorities, to register for a training course or to apply for a new job.

With regards to residency and settlement permits, a new law entered into force on January 1st, 2019. The Federal law stipulates that applicants for a C permit must provide written proof of level A2 and oral proof of level B1 in one of the national languages. The minimum requirement for the B permit is level A1 oral of CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

This reliable evaluation leads to obtaining a language passport. It is a possibility to prove one's skills in any one or more of the national languages: French, German and Italian. It is issued by the Secretariat on behalf of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and is recognised in particular in the context of a naturalisation procedure or an application and renewal of a permit (B, C).


The FIDE language assessment is divided into two parts: "Speaking and Understanding" and "Reading and Writing". Oral and written skills are assessed separately. You can take one or both parts of the assessment.


The FIDE exam:

"Speaking" (oral assessment), duration: 20mn - introductory interview, interactive tasks

"Understanding' (oral assessment), duration: 20 minutes - short audio texts and comprehension questions

"Reading and Writing" (written evaluation), duration: 60mn

As much as possible authentic Swiss texts, comprehension questions (MCQ, true/false), filling in a form or free written production (e.g. writing a short e-mail).

If you are taking the FIDE language assessment with the aim of naturalization, you must pass both parts and achieve at least a level of A2 in writing and B1 in speaking.

Five weeks after taking the test at Learn French Geneva (Geneva, Lausanne or Neuchatel branches), you will receive your language passport in the mail with your results.

The result of the evaluation is not expressed as "passed" or "failed".

The language passport will indicate your language level as A1, A2 or B1.

If you wish to certify language skills at a higher level than B1, we recommend you to take the DELF-DALF test.

A 10% discount on any or all modules of the FIDE language passport exam, taken at Learn French Geneva (official Fide exam centre as per February 2020) will be granted to anyone enrolled in our French Group Classes:

More info about Fide and the new language requirements: