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. For those with their own cars, getting around the beautiful Alpine country is 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.

It thus, goes without saying that the Swiss take huge pride in their transport and roadway systems.

Mandatory Rules: Drivers and Licences

You are required to be above 18 to drive a car and 16 to drive a bike. Drivers are also required to have valid driving licences in English, French, German, Italian or Romansh (any one of the official Swiss languages). If you have a licence that is not in any of the above languages, you have to get it translated as soon as possible by the Roadways Authorities.

International licence holders can drive in Switzerland for a maximum period of one year, after which they’ll have to 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 here on a humanitarian mission. You may want to check with the human resources department to confirm before you arrive here with your car.

Imported Car Registration

If you are planning to import an old car (with documentation as proof) strictly for personal travelling purposes, you are exempted from import charges, VAT and custom duties. If you import a new car, you will need to comply with the rules and pay a considerable amount of 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. You would be able to save a lot of money.

Car Insurance

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.

Vignette Stickers

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. You’ll be able to purchase the vignette at gas stations, post offices, road transport offices and on web portals for CHF 40.

Safety on the Mountains

The mountain ways are usually patrolled and there are very rare mishaps that happen, even during heavy snowfall. However, before you venture up the hills, you will need to fix up snow tires that are properly aligned, carry snow chains, GPS navigation systems, blankets and the like. If you do not have a proper navigation system or lack snow chains, the patrol guards may deny you permission to drive up the hills.

Furthermore, you may want to check https://www.tcs.ch/ for more information on driving in Switzerland.

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