Driving in Switzerland

Driving in Switzerland

As of 2023, there are over six million vehicles registered in Switzerland. Driving in Switzerland may be necessary if you are looking for a job that requires regular travel, or you are renting a house or apartment that isn’t served by public transport. This guide will show you all the things you need to know about operating a vehicle in Switzerland.

Driving licence

One of the first things that you need to do when moving to Switzerland for the first time is to exchange your driving licence. Officially, you can use some driving licences from other nations (mostly in Europe) for a year, but if you plan to make Switzerland your home in the long term, it is best to exchange it. Find out which nations have to take a theory or practical test as part of a licence exchange, as well as the price of exchange in our guide to driving licences.

Learning to drive in Switzerland

If you have come to Switzerland and want to start driving, you will need to learn to drive. Learning to drive in Switzerland is a multi-step process that requires constant supervision and training, as well as a thorough theory and practical test. It is also important to know what prior preparation you need before taking your test and what to do if you fail.

Registering a vehicle

One of the key parts of purchasing your first vehicle in Switzerland is to know how to register it. Switzerland uses a system where cars are assigned to your personal or family number plate, instead of each vehicle having their own. To find out more about the cost of registration and the steps that need to be taken, you can check out our guide to registering a vehicle.

Vehicle taxes

As part of your new vehicle registration, you will have to familiarise yourself with the various vehicle taxes that are charged. Each county (Canton) calculates its vehicle taxes differently, ranging from size, horsepower, weight and carbon emissions.

Car insurance

Every single vehicle on the roads in Switzerland must be insured. This is to guarantee coverage should you have an accident or if your vehicle is stolen. Car insurance in Switzerland is offered by several competitive insurance firms that may provide other forms of private insurance to enhance your coverage.

Periodic vehicle inspection

Vehicles that are imported to Switzerland or have been running in the country for five years must submit to a periodic vehicle inspection. This is to make sure that your vehicle is still roadworthy and does not pose a threat to other motorists. For expats, it is essential that you know how to prepare your vehicle for inspection, how much it will cost and what to do if your vehicle fails.

Importing & Exporting vehicles

If you are looking to bring your own vehicle to Switzerland from another country, you will have to pass several checks and pay a certain amount in import tax. Importing & exporting a vehicle in Switzerland requires that you declare you are importing the vehicle at the border and pay the necessary fees, as well as submit to a vehicle inspection.

Car leasing

If you need a vehicle in Switzerland but don't want to buy one outright, car leasing is a convenient way of getting to use a car, for a fixed monthly payment, without actually owning it. 


There are over 1.600 kilometres of motorway in Switzerland. Motorways in Switzerland have a speed limit of 120 km / h unless stated otherwise and are a key part of long journeys. When driving on Swiss motorways for the first time, it is important to know the etiquette of the road as well as making sure you have a Swiss motorway vignette.

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