Driving advice for every country in Europe

Find up-to-date driving laws and advice for any country in Europe before you visit, including any accessories you may need to purchase. Don't forget the RAC provides European breakdown cover while you're driving in Europe.

Driving in Switzerland

Switzerland
Population: 8,179,294
Area: 41, 285 sq km
Currency: Swiss Franc

If you're driving in Switzerland, your checklist requirements are:

  • A valid UK driving licence.
  • A GB sticker on the back of your car - even if your car has 'Euro-plates' (number-plates that show a circle of 12 stars on a blue background).
  • Your motor insurance certificate.
  • A warning triangle inside the car in case you break down.
  • Headlamp converters (stickers you put on your headlights when you're driving on the right, so your lights don't dazzle motorists coming the other way).
  • A motorway sticker if you're driving on the motorway - you can buy this at the border and at most petrol stations.
  • Snow chains in poor weather - road signs will let you know when you need to put them on the car.
  • If you usually wear glasses or contact lenses, you must carry a spare pair with you in the car.

Going away? Remember to take RAC Travel Insurance with you.

You must also:

  • Drive on the right, overtake on the left.
  • Be 18 or over.
  • Wear your seatbelt at all times (this applies to everyone in the car).
  • Wear a crash helmet if you're riding a motorcycle.
  • Motor vehicles (cars, lorries and vans, coaches) and motorcycles, must have their passing-lights or daytime running lights, switched on during the day.
  • A warning triangle is compulsory for all motor vehicles, except for motorcycles and sidecars. The warning triangle must be kept within easy reach (not in the boot).

It's a good idea to have:

  • Spare bulbs for your car's external lights.
  • A first aid kit.
  • A fire extinguisher.
  • A Camping Card International to give you additional proof of identity, third party liability insurance, plus discounts at a wide range of campsites and tourist attractions. Find out more here.
  • A Green Card - it's a useful back-up to your motor insurance documents and shows you've got the minimum legal level of cover. If you'd like to find out more, contact your insurance company.
  • Winter tyres, if you're driving between November and March.

Other things you should know:​

  • The speed limit is 50kph in built-up areas, 80kph on open roads and 120kph on motorways.
  • If you're caught committing a driving offence, you'll be given an on-the-spot fine.
  • You must use dipped headlights when driving through tunnels - and it's recommended you use them the rest of the time too.
  • It's illegal to use any radar detection equipment, whilst driving through Switzerland.
  • If you have a GPS navigation system that shows you where any fixed speed cameras are, you must deactivate this function.
  • Children under age 7 can't sit in the front.
  • Hitch-hiking isn't allowed on motorways and other major roads.
  • Pedestrians generally have right of way.
  • When overtaking, you must indicate before moving back into the right-hand lane.
  • During the day, you must sound your horn before going round a sharp bend with limited visibility. At night, flash your headlights instead.

Drink/drug driving limits

Legal Limit

The blood alcohol limit for drivers, whether resident in Switzerland or abroad, is 0.05%.

A lower BAC limit of 0.01% applies for to learner drivers and new drivers.

Test

The police can ask any driver to undergo a breath test. They can also test drivers for drugs.

A blood test may be required after an accident if there is definite suspicion that the driver or any person implicated in the accident is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The penalty is either a fine or a prison sentence, and, for a Swiss driver, the withdrawal of the driving licence for a period of at least two months.  A foreign driver will be forbidden to drive in Switzerland for the same length of time.

At the Swiss border the Customs authorities may test the physical fitness of the driver and report drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the police.

Motorways and Tolls

Sticker

To use Swiss national roads (motorways and semi motorways), motor vehicles and trailers up to a total weight of 3.5 tonnes must carry a sticker. 

The sticker is valid for 14 months (from 1st December to 31st January) and costs 38.50 EUR (2017); it can be bought in Switzerland from customs offices, petrol stations, regional road authorities, TCS offices, from some foreign motoring clubs abroad and from the Swiss National Tourist Office.

The driver who enters a motorway or semi motorway without the sticker will be fined 200 CHF and in addition will be required to pay 38.50 EUR for the sticker.

A different tax is levied on vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes.

Penalties

On-the-spot fines

The police are empowered to impose and collect fines on the spot in cases where road users violate certain traffic regulations.  The amount of the fine is from 20 to 300 CHF, according to the type of offence.

If the fine is contested, the driver must not pay it but demand that the amount be recorded as a deposit.

If the fine is not paid on the spot or within 30 days, the case is referred to Court.

Fuel

Unleaded petrol at 95 and 98 octane is available throughout Switzerland.  Additives are available at petrol stations for vehicles using leaded petrol.  
LPG is sold in 55 service stations.

Biofuel E85 is available from approximately 50 service stations,mostly situated in German-speaking Switzerland. E5 petrol with 5% ethanol and B5 biodiesel are also available.

Availability

On normal roads petrol stations are usually open from 0600 or 0700 hours until 2000 hours; smaller stations are open from 0700 or 0800 hours until 1800 hours.  Outside these hours petrol is available from automatic pumps.

On motorways, some service stations are open 24 hours a day; others are open from 0600 to 2200 or 2300 hours; outside these hours, petrol is available from automatic pumps.

Useful numbers:

112 - Here's a really important bit of knowledge; you can dial 112 from anywhere in Europe and an operator will connect you to an emergency service in the country you're visiting. Operators can answer your call in their native language, English, and French. 

Useful guides and maps

Michelin - National Map Switzerland
Michelin Motoring Atlas: Europe

UK Government travel advice

See up-to-date travel advice

 

Sources Foreign & Commonwealth Office, www.nationaldrivesafe.co.ukwww.drive-alive.co.uk.
Disclaimer: RAC are not responsible for the content of external websites. The information provided is correct as of May 2016 to the best of our knowledge and should be referred to for information purposes only - it should not be relied upon as formal advice. Please always check the current requirements of the country you are visiting before you leave.
*Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1.
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