As part of driving in Switzerland, all motor vehicles must submit to a regular vehicle inspection from their local traffic office. This test is to decide whether your vehicle is safe enough to be driving on roads and motorways. The tests vary by county (canton) but generally consist of tests on the vehicle’s acceleration, braking, maintenance and safety.
Attending a Swiss vehicle inspection
Every one to five years, your local traffic office will contact you and request that you attend a vehicle inspection. They will then suggest a date and location where you can bring your car to be inspected. If you cannot attend the date suggested, you must reschedule with the traffic office at least four days before the date or face a fine. The location will be a traffic office in your local canton, the same location where you register a vehicle and take your driving test.
Postponing a vehicle inspection
You can only postpone a vehicle inspection for a maximum of two months. After this time, you will be unable to use your vehicle until you submit to an inspection. In extreme cases, you can elect someone else to attend the inspection with your car on your behalf. Contact your local traffic office for more details.
How do I prepare for a vehicle inspection in Switzerland?
The rules for different counties vary slightly, but a general rule is to keep your vehicle in good working order. Make sure that the vehicle runs as intended and that there are no clear and obvious faults that have not been fixed. One key factor is that your vehicle must be completely clean both inside and out, taking care to wash part of the underside of the vehicle as well. If your car is not clean to the high standard of the inspector, they will refuse to inspect the vehicle.
Documents to provide during a Swiss vehicle inspection
In order to complete your vehicle inspection, you need to provide the following:
- Personal ID such as a residence permit and driving licence
- Vehicle ID documents (typically a grey slip provided when you register the vehicle)
- Proof of car insurance (usually a green piece of paper provided by the insurer)
Vehicle inspection criteria
The ways that your vehicle is tested during a vehicle inspection vary from canton to canton. The tests are designed to prove that your vehicle still fulfils all the safety criteria required to drive on Swiss roads and motorways. More recently, this has also meant checks on environmental sustainability, such as the efficiency of catalytic converters and fuel consumption. The tests are divided into three categories.
This category is designed to test the vehicle’s ability to react to situations on the road. The tests are usually done by the instructor but occasionally they may ask you to perform certain tasks as well. Some of the more common tests are:
- Accelerating to a certain speed then braking hard before a marker
- Handling tests
- Handbrake and emergency manoeuvres
- Equipment tests
These are tests that are designed to prove that your vehicle is still roadworthy. They will usually involve a full analysis of the car’s machinery and are always carried out by an inspector. Some of the tests may include:
- Engine inspections
- Rolling road tests
- Transmission and undercarriage tests on an elevated road
One of the new parts of the vehicle inspection is to test your vehicle’s impact on the environment. These tests make sure to take the age of your vehicle into account, meaning that older, less environmentally-friendly vehicles can still pass. Some of the tests that they do are:
- Catalytic converter analysis
- Fuel consumption test
- Emissions tests
If your car passes, you will be given a certificate and will be able to continue using your car until the next inspection.
Failing a Swiss vehicle inspection
If for any reason your car is found to fail the Swiss vehicle inspection, you will be ordered to return to the facility in 14 days' time. This is non-negotiable and is designed to give you time to clean your car or fix any faults that the previous test found. If you are unable to attend this date, you must inform your local traffic office and send someone else to complete the inspection with your vehicle.
How much do vehicle inspections cost in Switzerland?
Although they are mandatory, it still costs money to have a vehicle inspection in Switzerland. The cost varies according to the type of vehicle and the county you have registered the vehicle with. On average, the cost of inspecting a car is 100 Swiss francs.