Travelling in Switzerland from A to Z

All the infomation you need, when travelling in Switzerland.

ABCDEF – G – H – I/J – K – L – M – N – O – PQRST – U – VW – X/Y – Z

A

Alpine passes

Travelling across Alpine passes means planning ahead – some are not passable all year round or are only open for limited periods. Limits on the weight and size of trailers can also restrict access to pass crossings.
More information on Switzerland's alpine passes

B

Blood-alcohol content (BAC)

0.5 mg/ml BAC
0.01 mg/ ml BAC for new drivers (provisional driving licence holders), professional drivers, learner drivers, driving instructors and those accompanying learner drivers.

C

Climate & geography

Switzerland has four main climate zones:

  • Jura Mountains (cold and wet winters, pleasant summers)

  • Central Plateau with a continental climate (moderate summers, fairly mild winters)

  • The Alps (incl. Bernese Oberland) with numerous microclimates depending on the elevation, aspect and alignment of the valleys

  • Ticino with a Mediterranean climate (hot summers, mild and sunny winters)

Clothing

Normal everyday clothing according to the season. In winter, warm clothing and good footwear are recommended.

Crime

General assessment
Observe the usual precautions against petty crime.

Customs

Entry documents
Passport and identity card. A visa is not required.

The State Secretariat for Migration SEM provides more information.

Importing goods into Switzerland
Duty-free allowances (per person and day):

goods duty-free allowance customs duties for excess quantities
meat and meat products, excluding wild animals 1 kilogram CHF 17.00/kg
butter und cream 1 kilogram or 1 liter CHF 16.00/kg or l
oils, fats and margarine 5 kilograms oder 5 liters CHF 2.00/kg or l
alcoholic beverages up to 18% volume content* 5 liters CHF 2.00/l
alcoholic beverages over 18% volume content* 1 liter CHF 15.00/l
tobacco products* 250 cigarettes/cigars or 250 grams in total CHF 0.25/pce. or CHF 0.10/g
*only for persons aged 17 and over.
If the total value of the goods carried exceeds CHF 300.00, you will have to pay VAT.
Excess quantities are subject to customs duty. VAT on foodstuff and books is 2.5%, for all other goods 8%.

The Swiss Customs Administration will provide more infomations.

D

Driving Licence

All foreign national driving licences are recognised in Switzerland. Note that your car must display a clearly identifiable country code and have licence plates mounted.
Minimum driving age: 18 years.

E

Electricity

220 V with plugs according to Swiss standards. An adapter may be required for EU plugs.

Emergencies/road accidents

If a road accident only causes material damage, fill in a European Accident Statement form and have it signed by all involved parties. The police must be called if one of the involved parties demands it. The police and ambulance service must be called to road accidents involving injuries.

Emergency numbers    
Police 117 www.polizei.ch
Fire service 118 www.swissfire.ch
Breakdown service 140  
Abulance service 114  
Toxin information 145 www.toxi.ch

F

Fines

The police can collect fines on the spot for traffic violations. Radar detectors are strictly forbidden (resulting in stiff fines and confiscation of the apparatus). If a foreign driver breaks a traffic rule, the police can demand a cash deposit equivalent to the fine that would usually be imposed tor the offence in question, regardless of the type of fine.

Most common fines costs in CHF
no parking 40.00 to 120.00
failure to observe a taffic light 250.00
driving under the influence of alcohol no fixed fine, licence withdrawal for at least 2 months
failure to wear a seatbelt 60.00
using a mobile phone without a hands-free-set 100.00
driving without the motorway sticker on motorways and dual carriageways 100.00 and obligation to buy the sticker









 

Fuel

Lead-free 95 and 98/diesel. Petrol stations on motorways are open from 06.00 to 23.00 hrs (automatic pumps operate at night) some of them around the clock, elsewhere from 6.00/7.00 a.m. to 6.00/8.00 p.m.They usually accept all established credit cards and EC-Direct. 25 litres of fuel (in canisters) may be imported. Natural gas: www.erdgastanken.ch

I

Insurance

Liability insurance is compulsory for all vehicles (including motorcycles). Check the validity of your insurance policy for Switzerland.
You will need a Green Card if your vehicle is registered in one of the following countries: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Israel, Macedonia, Morocco, Moldavia, Montenegro, Russia, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine. You can obtain this from your insurance company. The Green Card certifies that the motorist has the third-party insurance cover required by the countries visited.

Journey

Driving on main roads and secondary roads is free of charge. The following toll-free options (main/cantonal roads with blue road signs) are recommended when driving to the Bernese Oberland.

From Lörrach (Germany, Benelux)
Lörrach-Bad Säckingen-(Swiss border)-Stein am Rhein–Küttigen-Aarau-Rothrist-Hindelbank-Bern-Thun-Spiez-Interlaken

From Geneva (France, Spain)
Thonon-Evian les Bains-(Swiss border)-Aigle-Col des Mosses –Saanen-Zweisimmen-Spiez-Interlaken

From Pontarlier (France)
(Swiss border)-Boudry-Neuchâtel-Kerzers-Bern-Münsingen-Thun-Spiez.

From Aosta (Italy)
Great St. Bernhard (toll/Swiss border) – Martigny-Aigle-Col des Mosses-Saanen-Zweisimmen-Spiez.

L

Language

Four different languages are spoken in Switzerland: German, French, Italian and Romansh. German is spoken in the Bernese Oberland.

M

Money

National currency: Swiss franc (CHF)
Euros are widely accepted, but change is usually given in Swiss francs. Always change your euros at a bank. Retail stores usually offer a less advantageous exchange rate. Cash machines/ATMs are widespread.

Motorcycles

Mandatory equipment: Helmets for driver and passenger.
Dipped headlights are compulsory day and night.

Only holders of a category A1 driving licence are permitted to drive a light motorcycle (cylinder capacity of no more than 125ccm, max. 11kW) in Switzerland.

P

Pets

Certain requirements apply for carrying pets in vehicles. Find more information at the
Visit the Federal Veterinary Office website (FSVO) for more information.

Pitching on campsites

Most campsites in the Bernese Oberland offer pitches for mobile homes. Please check the website of the respective campsite.

Public parking

lt is strictly forbidden to use public parking spaces for any purpose other than to park vehicles, collect or deposit passengers or load or unload goods.

Q

Quality ratings of campsites

Campsites in Switzerland have been quality-rated since 1987. The Swisscamps, SCCV (German & French) and TCS (German, French, Italian) quality ratings are designed as a guidance tool for customers. Ratings comprise the four main criteria location, standard, sanitary facilites and services.

R

Road conditions

By phone: 163 (subject to charges).
SRF 1 (FM frequency displayed along the motorway, German only).

Road network

Around 1700 km of rnotorways and dual carriageways (motorway sticker mandatory), 19,000 km of main roads (national and cantonal roads) and around 52000 km of municipal roads.

Car-free villages: Bettmeralp (VS), Braunwald (GL), Melchsee-Frutt (OW), Mürren (BE), Riederalp (VS), Rigi-Kaltbad (LU),Saas-Fee (VS), Stoos (SZ), Wengen (BE), Zermatt (VS).

Road tolls

You will need to purchase a motorway sticker (vignette) to drive on motorways and dual carriageways. Points of sale: customs, post offices, service stations, garages and road traffic licensing departments. If you don't want to purchase the motorway sticker, we recommend the following journeys on main and secondary roads (avoiding motorways and dual carriageways).

cars less than 3,5 t* Toll
car, motorbike CHF 40.00
mobile home + CHF 40.00


* valid for 14 months (from 1.12. to 31.1. of the following year)

Heavy vehicles with a total weight of over 3.5 t have to pay a lump-sum heavy vehicle charge (PSVA) for each day spent in Switzerland, even if they are only parked and not driven. The charge is payable on the entire road network. The rate is CHF 3.25 per day, the minimum amount is CHF 25.00.

Tarifs for heavy vehicles

  • CHF 25.00/day

  • CHF 58.50/month

  • CHF 650.00/year

  • additional costs per day CHF 3.25

Find more information at the Federal Customs Administration website. 

Road tunnels, car trains, car ferries, and some minor roads are subject to charges. These are usually private roads in the Alps that are only a few kilometres long and lead to lookout points. The toll can be charged at an automatic toll booth; elsewhere, signs direct the driver to where authorisation can be obtained. On some roads the toll is collected in the form of a parking fee on arrival. The day rate is usually between CHF 4.00 and 10.00.

S

Speed limits

The most common speed limits in Switzerland: 

vehicle in built-up areas outside built-up areas dual carriageways motorways
car 50 km/h 80 km/h 100 km/h 120 km/h
trailer/caravan 50 km/h 80 km/h 80 km/h 80 km/h
motorbike 50 km/h 80 km/h 100 km/h 120 km/h
mobile home > 3,5 t 50 km/h 80 km/h 100 km/h 100 km/h

 

Smoking ban

Smoking is banned in all public buildings throughout Switzerland.

T

Telephone

The country code for Switzerland is +41

Using a mobile phone while driving: only hands-free sets are permitted, although not recommended (lower attentiveness). There are stiff fines for violations!

Trailers and mobile homes

Trailers, mobile homes and caravans can be temporarily imported without formalities. No inventory is required except in case of articles of value. Trailers may not be driven in the lane furthest to the left on three-lane motorways.

maximum dimenstions in meters  
height 4
width 2,55
length (incl. shaft) 12
overall length (car + trailer/caravan) 18,75

 

V

Vehicle equipment

Headlights: Daylight running lights/dipped headlights are mandatory for all vehicles day and night.
Carrying a reflecting warning triangle is compulsory.

Seatbelts are mandatory for every seat.
Kindersicherung  
Child < 12 years and < 1.50 m Child restraint system approved in accordance with ECE label R 44.03, 44.04 or 129
Child > 12 years and > 1.50 m Seatbelt mandatory
 

Child seats and baby shell seats are considered child restraint systems.

Loads
A protruding load must be clearly signalled and made particularly visible to other road users. Articles 58 and 73 of the Swiss Road Traffic Regulations (VRV) apply. The load may neither cover the vehicle’s licence plates nor lighting.
Vehicles carrying loads or pulling trailers that impede vision must be equipped with left and right outside rear-view mirrors in accordance with Article 58.

Winter equipment
Snow tyres are not mandatory, but drivers may be liable if they hinder traffic because they are driving on snow-covered roads with an improperly equipped vehicle. Snow chains are mandatory on at least two drive wheels on roads signposted with the corresponding signal. Studded tyres are permitted from 24 October to 30 April. Displaying a sticker with the 80 km/h speed limit is mandatory. Vehicles with studded tyres may not use motorways with two exceptions: the St. Gotthard Tunnel (A2) and the San Bernardino Tunnel (A13). Vehicles registered abroad may be driven in Switzerland for as long as the use of these tyres is permitted in its country of origin, even if this period is longer than that in effect in Switzerland.

W

Weather forecast

The following weather services publish constantly updated, reliable forecasts:

 

All information provided on this page is subject to cange.

Find campsite