Traveling by Car – Useful Information about Driving in Switzerland

Am I allowed to drive in Switzerland?

Travellers who are at least 18 years old and in possession of a valid national driver license are allowed to drive a car or motorbike in Switzerland.

Direction of traffic and right of way

In Switzerland, road users drive on the right-hand side. If not regulated otherwise by traffic signs, priority to the right applies. In urban areas, as well as on rural roads you should show due consideration to pedestrians and cyclists. Pay special attention when approaching cross walks: Pedestrians have priority here and sometimes step onto the road unexpectedly.

Keep headlights on and seat belts fastened

In Switzerland, all moving motor vehicles must keep their headlights switched on at all times – including during the day. Violating this regulation can incur a CHF 40 fine. It is also mandatory for all passengers keep their seat belts fastened while the car is moving.

Speed limits

The following are indications for the maximum speed on different road types and for different vehicles. The speed limit can, however, be regulated differently by means of traffic signs.

Freeway (Autobahn) 120 km/h (approx. 75 mph)
Urban areas 50 km/h (approx. 30 mph)
Rural areas 80 km/h (approx. 50 mph)
Expressway 100km/h (approx. 60 mph)
Cars with trailer max. 80 km/h (approx. 50 mph)
Mobile homes (>3,5t) max. 100 km/h (approx. 60 mph)

Always heed the traffic signs and speed limits because the fines for violating them are very high. For example, exceeding the maximum speed by 10km/h (6 mph) within city limits can cost you CHF 120.

Vignette (freeway tax sticker)

Driving on Swiss freeways (autobahn) is subject to a tax, which is levied in form of a tax sticker. Swiss rental cars are generally 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.

You can purchase a vignette at most border crossings, gas stations or post offices. It costs CHF 40 and is valid until January 31 of the following year. (The vignette for 2019 can be used from December 1, 2018 until January 31, 2020.)

More about the vignette

Necessary documents and equipment

In order to drive a motorized vehicle in Switzerland you need a valid national driver license and the documents of the vehicle you are driving.

Every vehicle must be equipped with a warning triangle, which should be accessible at all times. It is therefore not recommended to keep it in the rear trunk. Reflective vests and first aid kits are not obligatory but are recommended.

Driving while intoxicated

The maximum blood alcohol content while driving in Switzerland is 0.05%. Getting caught driving with an excessive blood alcohol level will result in fines or the withdrawal of your driver license.

Staying in the car overnight

It is generally not permitted to stay overnight in a car on a public parking lot. It is therefore recommended to find a campground or any other accommodation where you can spend the night. In some regions, sleeping for one night in the car is tolerated. You can ask at the local police station for more information.

Driving during winter

Winter tires are not obligatory in Switzerland, but they are highly recommended during the cold months. 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.