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Motor vehicle tax

For every registered vehicle, vehicle owners are required to pay an annual motor vehicle tax to their canton of residence.

New to Switzerland? Note that anyone whose main residence is in Switzerland must register all their motor vehicles in their canton of residence and therefore pay taxes in Switzerland.

Which vehicles are subject to motor vehicle tax?

Motor vehicle tax must be paid by the registered keepers of the following vehicles: cars, scooters, motorcycles, quad bikes, mopeds, coaches, minivans, motorhomes, trucks, tractors and trailers.

How is the motor vehicle tax calculated?

The basis for calculation varies by canton and consequently so does the amount. For example, the calculation may be based on the cubic capacity, horsepower, gross vehicle weight, unladen weight or a combination of these. Some cantons apply a reduced tax rate to economical vehicles. In some regions, electric vehicles are completely exempt from this tax during the first few years. The Road Traffic Office websites provide calculators to help you work out how much tax you will be required to pay.

Basis for the calculationCanton(s)
Cubic capacity or tax horsepower
12 cantons: AG, FR, GL, GR, LU, NW, OW, SH, SO, TG, VS, ZG
Gross vehicle weight
7 cantons: AI, AR, BE, BL, JU, SG, UR
Horsepower1 canton: GE
Horsepower and gross vehicle weight3 cantons: SZ, TI, VD
Cubic capacity and gross vehicle weight
1 canton: ZH
Unladen weight and CO2 emissions (energy label)1 canton: BS
CO2 emissions1 canton: NE

Source: TCS

Example: the canton of Bern calculates the tax based on the weight of the car. It charges 240 francs for the first 1,000 kg of weight. Every additional 1,000 kg is taxed at 14% less than the previous tax rate.

Environmental bonus: some cantons reward buyers of lower-emission cars. Vehicles with below-average CO2 emissions are taxed at a lower rate.

However, no standard rate applies nationwide yet. For instance, there is no environmental bonus on motor vehicle tax in the cantons of Aargau, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Lucerne, Neuchâtel, Schwyz or Valais.

Don’t forget: look into finding the right car insurance deal before concerning yourself with motor vehicle tax. You can save several hundred francs, depending on your choice of car insurance provider.

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How much is the tax on electric and hybrid vehicles?

Electric and hybrid vehicles are also taxed differently from canton to canton. In some places, they are completely exempt from vehicle tax, in others a discount is applied, while some cantons make no distinction at all between conventional and alternative fuel vehicles.

For example, the cantons of Bern and Basel-Stadt apply a discount for pure electric vehicles. In the canton of Geneva, these vehicles are completely exempt from the tax for the first three years. In other cantons, such as Jura, drivers of hybrid vehicles may be eligible for tax relief.

It's therefore advisable to contact the Road Traffic Office for your canton to find out whether any tax relief is available.

You can find the addresses and contact details of all the Road Traffic Offices here (in German, French and Italian only).

What documents and information do I need for the calculation?

Some cantons require more information than others.

  • Have your vehicle registration certificate to hand
  • Serial number (item no. 18 on the certificate) or vehicle type
  • Cubic capacity
  • Gross vehicle weight
  • Unladen weight
  • Energy label (A-G)
  • CO2 emissions
  • Date of first registration
  • Emission code (item 72)

Contact the Road Traffic Office of your canton of residence to find out which documents are required.

When do I need to pay motor vehicle tax?

As soon as you register your car. The canton will send you a notice of tax owed by post. After that, you will receive your tax bill once a year in January. Make sure you pay the bill within 30 days as requested. If you ignore a payment reminder, the police might confiscate your vehicle registration certificate along with the number plates as they do with people who fail to pay their insurance bills – for an additional fee, of course.

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