How to drive in Switzerland

Requirement to drive with headlights on during daylight hours

Motor vehicles (cars, vans, trucks and buses) and motorcycles must have their headlights on when being driven during daylight hours. Exempted from this requirement are mopeds, e-bikes and bicycles, and vehicles that were registered before 1970. Anyone who fails to comply with the requirement to drive with headlights on will be fined CHF 40.

 


Vignette (freeway tax sticker)

Driving on Swiss freeways (autobahn) is subject to a tax, which is levied in form of a tax sticker. Our rental vehicles are all already equipped with a vignette. However, if you are traveling from abroad with your own vehicle or with a rental car from a country other than Switzerland, you will have to buy a tax sticker and affix it to your windshield before you drive onto a Swiss motorway.

 


Violation of traffic rules abroad

In principle, you have to pay any fines you may get abroad. This will avoid any problems you may have when re-entering the country in question. This applies to Swiss vehicles / drivers abroad (also rental cars) and drivers from other countries in Switzerland.

 


Traffic Law

Read the Traffic Law of Switzerland!

PDF: 741.01 

 


Traffic Signs

If you are uncertain how traffic signs in mid Europe look, feel free to navigate to Wikipedia

 


Compulsory child seats in cars

Babies and children must be correctly secured in a child’s car seat designed for their age group.
Compulsory child seats in cars

Babies and children must be correctly secured in a child’s car seat designed for their age group.
Child seat or seat belt?

  • Children under 12 years must sit in a special child seat if they are under 150 cm tall.
  • Children over 150 cm tall and children over 12 years of age must wear a seat belt.
    Acceptable child seats
    Children must be secured in the correct child seat for their weight and age. The seat must bear the correct ECE security label.

Children in the front seat
In principle children are allowed to sit on the front passenger seat regardless of their age. If your car is equipped with airbags, rear-facing car seats may only be used if the front airbag on the passenger’s side is deactivated.

For detailed information on how to secure your child in the car go to the Federal Roads Office website.

Merkblatt in PDF Format (German only)

 


Driving over the speed limit

Speed limits
The maximum speed limit on motorways is 120 km/h, on expressways it is 100 km/h, on main roads and minor roads outside built-up areas it is 80 km/h and in built-up areas it is 50 km/h. It is however possible that the allowed speed is lower, it is for example sometimes limited to 80 or 60km/h on highways because of construction works or bad air quality. Moreover, some roads are limited to 30km/h or even to 20km/h in built-up areas and to 70km/h outside built-up areas.

If you drive too fast you will face the following fines and penalties:

Excess speed Built-up areas Outside built-up areas
(expressways incl.)
Motorway
1-5 km/h CHF40 CHF40 CHF20
6-10 km/h CHF120 CHF100 CHF60
11-15 km/h CHF250 CHF160 CHF120
16-20 km/h Summons CHF240 CHF180
21-25 km/h Summons Summons CHF260
Over 25 km/h Summons Summons Summons

Warnings and disqualification from driving
The following additional administrative penalties apply to serious speeding offences:

Built-up areas 16-20 km/h over the limit Warning
21-24 km/h over the limit 1 month minimum disqualification
25 km/h or more over the limit 3 months minimum disqualification
Outside built-up areas 21-25 km/h over the limit Warning
26-29 km/h over the limit 1 month minimum disqualification
30 km/h or more over the limit 3 months minimum disqualification
Motorway 26-30 km/h over the limit Warning
31-34 km/h over the limit 1 month minimum disqualification
35 km/h or more over the limit 3 months minimum disqualification

If you exceed the speed limit by 25 km/h in built-up areas, 30 km/h out of built-up areas or by 35 km/h on the motorway, the offence will be entered into the register of criminal convictions and will be appear for a certain period on extracts from the register.

Repeat offences
If you are caught speeding repeatedly, you will be banned from driving for a much longer period. In the case of excessive speeding violations, you will be banned from driving until it has been decided whether to permanently disqualify you. In addition, you will be assessed by a psychologist to see whether you are fit to drive.

 


Alcohol in road traffic and navigation

If you drive a vehicle, motor boat or recreational craft (such as a rowing boat, pedalo, etc.) with a breath alcohol content of over 0.25mg/l or a blood alcohol content of over 0.05% you can expect to face legal consequences.

Drink drive limit: From.0,25 mg/l or 0.05% or more threat of sanctions

If you break road traffic or inland navigation law you face the following proceedings, which are generally separate from one another.

  • Criminal proceedings (fines, financial penalties, imprisonment)
  • Administrative proceedings (warning, revocation of licence etc.)

Professional drivers, new drivers, learner drivers, driving instructors and persons accompanying learner drivers may not be under the influence of alcohol (≥ 0.05 mg/l or ≥0.01%).

Penalties and driving ban
The law recognises three degrees of seriousness for drink driving offences:

  • 0.25 to 0.39 mg/l or 0.05 to 0.079%: If you drive with a breath alcohol content of 0.25 to 0.39 mg/l or a blood alcohol level of 0.05 to 0.079%, you will receive a warning and a fine.
  • 0.25 to 0.39 mg/l or 0.05 to 0.079% plus further driving offence: If you drive a vehicle, motor boat or recreational craft with a breath alcohol content of 0.25 to 0.39 mg/l or a blood alcohol content of 0.05 to 0.079% and commit a further driving offence you will be banned from driving for at least one month and receive a fine or a financial penalty or up to three years in prison. The amount you will be ordered to pay depends on your financial situation.
  • 0.40 mg/l or 0.08%: If you drive a vehicle, motor boat or recreational craft with a breath alcohol content of 0.40 mg/l or a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or over you will be banned from driving for at least three months. You will also receive a financial penalty or up to three years in prison. The amount of money you will be ordered to pay depends on your financial situation. The offence will be entered into the register of criminal convictions and will appear for a certain period on extracts from the register.
  • Driving offences with a probationary driving licence: The first time you are disqualified from driving and you have a probationary driving licence, a year is added to the probation period. If you commit another driving offence that leads to disqualification, you will lose your licence entirely. You are only allowed to apply for a new provisional licence after one year and you will need to have a psychological assessment to see whether you are fit to drive.
    You are also responsible for the investigation and administrative costs incurred.

 


Driving during winter in Switzerland

Winter tires are not obligatory in Switzerland, but they are highly recommended during the cold months.All our vehicles are equipped with winter tires during the winter season. In Switzerland, it can also snow in the spring and fall; therefore driving with winter tires is advisable between October and April. If you travel to Alpine regions, snow chains might also be necessary. Road signs will inform you about snow chain obligations on certain roads.

Helpful tips for camping during the winter season in Switzerland:
  • Sleeping clothes have to be dry
  • Hang out your sleeping bag to the fresh air after sleeping.
  • Dress up with thin clothes in layers.
  • Try to keep snow out of the car.
  • Don‘t leave the car door open, you‘ll cool down the interior.
  • If it‘s snowy and windy, check if there are drifts.
  • If possible, park the car so it points towards the wind.
  • Low sun conditions can severely affect your visibility so drive with caution.

Driving in the mountains during the winter season:

  • A very good thing to bring is gaiters and crampons or snow grips for your walking boots.
  • Polaroid sunglasses.
  • Sun protection.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you are expected to be back, like the hotel you might be staying at before or after the trip, or both.
  • Check the weather forecast and the road condition. Some roads gets snowed in really fast. In mountain areas, your WiFi connection will unstable so don‘t count on that to be your only safety line. The same goes with mobile phones

If you do not have a drivers license

Driving licence

If you want to learn to drive you need to obtain a provisional licence and pass a theory and a practical test. Newly qualified drivers are issued a probationary driving licence. They receive their permanent licence at the end of their probation period. There are different categories of driving licence for different types of vehicle. You can also obtain an international driving licence for driving abroad. Your licence may be revoked if you break traffic regulations.