Driving In Switzerland
A labyrinth network of Autostrassen (national highways) and paved mountain routes measuring up to 72,000 km connects you to every corner of Switzerland with ease. Often described as one of the most stunning driving landscapes in the world, Switzerland offers spectacular views making getting around the beautiful Alpine country a pleasurable exercise. If you don’t own a car, there are excellent public transport facilities, ranging from ferries, metros, bus services and taxis that you can depend on.
And the Swiss take huge pride in their transport and roadway systems which are among some of the best maintained in Europe.
Mandatory Rules: Drivers & Licences
In Switzerland you must be over 18 years of age to drive a car and 16 to drive a bike. Drivers must also have valid driving licences in English, French, German, Italian or Romansh (any one of the official Swiss languages). If your licence is not in any of the above languages, you are legally required get it translated as soon as possible by the Swiss authorities.
International licence holders can drive in Switzerland for a maximum period of one year, after which you must apply for a local Swiss driving licence. You are exempted from changing your licence if you belong to the CERN, are employed in apex international organizations (UNO and the like) or are in Switzerland on humanitarian work. If you are starting a new job in Switzerland, check with your employer for further details regarding eligibility for exemption.
Imported Car Registration
If you are planning to import an old car strictly for personal use, you are exempted from import charges, VAT and custom duties. You will be required to provide proof of ownership and a valid MOT certificate, you may be have to pass a Swiss vehicle check (MOT equivalent). If you import a new car, you may have to pay tax while checking your vehicle in. We recommend buying a vehicle in Switzerland or simply renting a car on lease as long as you’re going to be here. This can work out cheaper, it’s also safer to drive in Switzerland in a left-hand drive car for sightlines, etc.
It is necessary for every car driver to have at least the minimum third-party liability insurance before they take their cars onto the road. Insuring your own vehicle is optional, but you’ll need to make sure that in the wake of a car crash, the damages to other cars will be paid by your insurance agency.
There is a vignette sticker you’ll need to compulsorily purchase and stick onto your cars and bikes, valid for a year, before you get onto the road. These can be purchased at petrol stations, post offices, road transport offices and or online before you travel.
Safety on the Mountains
In the winter months, snow tires and/or snow chains are an absolute must. You should also carry GPS navigation systems, blankets and the like. Mountain roads are patrolled and spot checks take place, if you are stopped and don’t have a proper navigation system or lack snow chains, the patrol guards may deny you permission to drive on some roads.
Furthermore, you may want to check https://www.tcs.ch/ for more information on driving in Switzerland.