Guide to Driving In Switzerland - Drive Safe in Switzerland

Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Switzerland?

Driving in Switzerland

Driving Laws

Seat Belt Laws

All passengers, front and back, must wear seat belts in Switzerland and you face a fine for breaking the law

Drinking and Driving

The laws on drink driving in Switzerland is quite simple. Any alcohol above 0.05% in your bloodstream means you are illegal and will be taken to court, fined and, depending on the severity of the crime, you can get a jail sentence.

Must Have Documents

All Switzerland requires is that your driver's licence is in one of the official languages of the country including English. In your own car you'll need the registration document. In a hire car you'll need the rental agreement. In all cases it's advisable to carry the insurance documents as well. 

Speed Limits

Motorway Dual Carriageway Other Roads Built-up aread Min Age Notes
67 67 50-62 31 18

speed limit on other
roads depends on the
locations, see local signage

Minimum Driving Age

Switzerland sets the minimum age for drivers at 18 and it's 23 or 24 for hire cars. You can ride a moped as young as 14, depending on the power of it.

Safety Camera Warning Devices

It’s not illegal to have camera detecting devices and many Swiss sat-navs do it anyway. As with any system designed for safety, it's better to follow the rule rather than try to find ways to flout it. 

On the Spot Fines

Because of regular instances of non-payment, Switzerland has a system of on the spot fines for minor traffic offences including speeding. If you haven't got the cash on you, you will be taken to a cash machine, if you still can't pay, your car may be impounded until you can.

Child Safety Rules

There are no restrictions on the age of children using the front passenger seat as long as children under 12 or 150cm in height are securely restrained with appropriate equipment.

Insurance

A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory and whilst you don't need to carry the documentation with you, it's a good idea.

Rules of the Road

Standard European driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
 
  • You must give way to public transportation and to all vehicles coming uphill towards you.
  • You have to switch off your engine at traffic lights and at railway level crossings.
  • You must use winter tyres in the appropriate season when signs indicate so. There's also a sign for compulsory chains.
  • You must use dipped headlights at all times when driving in Switzerland.
  • Carrying a warning triangle is compulsory and whilst reflective clothing isn't compulsory in Switzerland, if you drive out of the country into an EU country it will be.

Towing Regulations

Other than common sense, there are no specific regulations for towing cars in Switzerland. You should use your hazards and if possible, add a sign telling following cars you are towing.

Speed Cameras

Speed Cameras are common in the country together with mobile units. You can expect an on the spot fine if you are caught and if you can't pay, your car may be impounded.

Using Mobile Phones when driving

You can only use mobile phones with hands free devices, otherwise it's illegal and you will receive a fine.

Parking

Parking regulations
 
White lines allow for free parking but these areas are few and far between. Red zones require red disks and allow for up to 15 hours free parking but are usually reserved for residents
 
Paid parking          
 
You'll often find parking meters by the side of parking spaces. Some ask you to display a ticket, others you enter the space number into the machine.
 
Blue Disc
 
Switzerland is party to the Blue Disc scheme. It’s possible to buy an International Blue Parking Disc from many shops, garages and post offices. There are special parking areas for holders of these marked with a  blue sign and you can park there for ninety minutes. It’s often a much cheaper way to park.
 
Enforcement
 
Enforcement of parking is often done by camera or the police if you are causing an obstruction.
 
Disabled parking
 
Despite not being part of the EU, Switzerland follows EU guidelines on parking for holders of an EU Disabled Parking Permit.

Motor Way Signs

Phrases

 
  French German Italian
My car won't start
 
Where is the police station?
I have a flat tyre
 
I have been in an accident
Where is?
Where can I buy petrol?
Ma voiture ne démarre pas
Où est le poste de police?
J'ai un pneu à plat
 
J'ai été dans un accident
Où est?
Où puis-je acheter de l'essence?
Mein Auto springt nicht an
Wo ist die Polizei?
 
Ich habe eine Reifenpanne
Ich habe einen Unfall gehabt
Wo ist?
Wo kann ich kaufen Benzin?
La mia macchina non si avvia
Dove si trova la stazione di polizia?
Ho una gomma a terra
Sono stato in un incidente
Dove si trova?
Dove posso acquistare la benzina?

Traffic Lights

Traffic lights are generally standard in their operation but have flashing amber which means the driver can proceed but need to do so with caution being aware of pedestrians or cars approaching from the left or right.

Toll Roads

All motorways in Switzerland are toll roads. Locals carry a vignette that ehy pay for yearly that entitles them to drive on them. Visitors can buy a motorway pass for CHF40. You can buy them at service stations, post offices or at the custom entry points to Switzerland. It must be stuck on the inside of your windscreen or you risk a fine, even if you have it with you.

See our guide to toll roads in Switzerland here.

Emergency

The emergency number in Switzerland is the European standard: 112 but they also use 117 for the police, 118 for the fire service and 144 for ambulance

What to do in an emergency

Accidents involving animals, wild or domesticated must be reported to the police. In any accident where someone is seriously injured, the police must be called and the scene left as it was until they arrive although casualties can be moved if they are in further danger. If there are only bumps and scratches there is no obligation to call the police. 

Fuel Costs

As of December 2013, the price of Unleaded 95 in Switzerland is £1.22 whilst diesel is €1.26.

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Hiring a Car

With our Drive Smart guide you're fully prepared to hire a car in Switzerland and stay safe on unfamiliar roads.