Car insurance

Registering a vehicle


To drive a vehicle on Swiss roads, you need a vehicle registration certificate and number plates. These are obtained from the Road Traffic Office, where the vehicle must be registered. Essentially, it is the number plates that show you are authorised to drive on Swiss roads. In Switzerland, the canton of residence is responsible for vehicle registration. You can find the location of the Road Traffic Office for your canton of residence here (website in German, French and Italian only).

To complete the registration process, you may need to complete certain tasks beforehand or supply different documents, depending on your situation. To help ensure a smooth registration process, we have listed what you need to provide in the different possible scenarios:

Note: If you are registering a vehicle for the first time, you will always need:

  • Proof of identity: Swiss passport / identity card or residence permit
  • If the holder is a legal entity: copy of the entry in the commercial register
  • Confirmation of place of residence or deposit receipt of citizenship documents (for Swiss citizens)

Otherwise, you will need to take the old number plates with you to invalidate the the vehicle registration certificate.

Tip: If you need a vertical number plate (16x30cm) rather than a traditional horizontal one (11x50cm), you should inform the Road Traffic Office before you register.

Lost your vehicle registration certificate? Been summoned for a vehicle inspection? Or do you just need more information about the Road Traffic Office? We recommend you take a look at this page.

 

Registering a new vehicle

First contact your local Road Traffic Office.

  1. Application form
    First request an appointment to register, if required to do so by the Road Traffic Office, by completing the vehicle registration application form available from the relevant Road Traffic Office or on its website.

If your vehicle is brand new, it won't usually have a vehicle registration certificate. Instead, you need the following documents to register:

  1. Inspection report form 13.20A
    You can get this form directly from the car dealer, if the dealer isn't registering the vehicle. This contains the serial number, which you need to obtain car insurance and the vehicle registration certificate.
  2. Proof of insurance
    In Switzerland, it is compulsory to take out liability insurance for every motor vehicle that is driven on public roads. As soon as you have chosen an insurance policy, the insurance company automatically sends the insurance certificate to the relevant Road Traffic Office.

 

Registering a used vehicle

First contact your local Road Traffic Office.

  1. Application form
    First request an appointment to register, if required to do so by the Road Traffic Office, by completing the vehicle registration application form available from the relevant Road Traffic Office or on its website.

For used cars, a vehicle registration certificate already exists in the name of the previous owner. If the certificate has not yet been invalidated, you need to do so, to take the car off the road under these plates. To register the vehicle, you need the following documents:

  1. The vehicle registration certificate (original) (and form 13.20B if a follow-up inspection has been completed)
    When you buy a used car, the previous owner will give you the vehicle registration certificate. You should insist on this document.
  2. Proof of insurance
    In Switzerland, it is compulsory to take out liability insurance for every motor vehicle that is driven on public roads. As soon as you have chosen an insurance policy, the insurance company automatically sends the insurance certificate to the relevant Road Traffic Office.

 

Moving to a new canton

If you move to a new canton, you cannot simply call the Road Traffic Office to notify them of a change of address. You have 14 days in which to visit the Road Traffic Office for your new place of residence. You will need to supply the following documents:

  1. Registration application form
    First request an appointment to register, if required to do so by the Road Traffic Office, by completing the vehicle registration application form available from the relevant Road Traffic Office or on its website.
  2. The vehicle registration certificate (original) (and form 13.20B if a follow-up inspection has been completed)
    You received the vehicle registration certificate when you registered the vehicle and should have kept it with you, as it is compulsory to have one in order to drive on Swiss roads.
  3. Proof of insurance
    In Switzerland, it is compulsory to take out liability insurance for every motor vehicle that is driven on public roads. As soon as you have chosen an insurance policy, the insurance company automatically sends the insurance certificate to the relevant Road Traffic Office.
  4. The old number plates
    You can take the number plates from your previous canton of residence and hand them in at your new Road Traffic Office.

Tip: You can also submit the documents to the Road Traffic Office online or post them. The plates can be swapped at your local post office.

Remember that prices vary between cantons.

 

Registering an imported vehicle (already resident in Switzerland)

If you purchased the vehicle abroad without living in that country for more than one year, you must register this vehicle in Switzerland within one month of the date of import. If you planned to register the vehicle at a Swiss Road Traffic Office at a later date, you must invalidate the plates at the foreign registration office.  

To bring the vehicle through customs, you need the following documents:

  1. Sale agreement / sales receipt
    This is the sale agreement for the vehicle purchased from the seller.
  2. Foreign vehicle paperwork / registration certificate
    These documents should also be issued by the vehicle seller or dealer.
  3. Proof of identity
    Swiss passport / identity card or residence permit
  4. Import declaration
    To import a vehicle through Swiss customs, you must apply in advance. You can do this easily online (website available in German, French and Italian only).

For new cars registered abroad less than 6 months previously (date of customs declaration applies), you must request a CO2 emissions certificate from the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) (page in German, French and Italian only).

The vehicle must also undergo a technical inspection in Switzerland, for which you will need to submit the following documents to the Road Traffic Office:

  1. Application to register the vehicle with your Road Traffic Office
  2. Proof of insurance
    In Switzerland, it is compulsory to take out liability insurance for every motor vehicle that is driven on public roads. As soon as you have chosen an insurance policy, the insurance company automatically sends the insurance certificate to the relevant Road Traffic Office.
  3. Foreign vehicle paperwork / registration certificate
  4. Inspection report from the customs office including customs stamp (form 13.20A)
    You should have received this as part of the customs procedure when you imported the vehicle.
  5. VAT certificate from the customs office
    You receive this when you pay the required VAT at customs.
  6. EU Certificate of Conformity
    You can get this from the importer, from the main importer in Switzerland or from the vehicle manufacturer itself.

Once the vehicle has passed its technical inspection, you will be issued with the number plates, or the vehicle can be registered under the existing number plates.

 

Registering an imported vehicle (moving to Switzerland)

If you have moved to Switzerland and want to import your vehicle from abroad, there are certain tasks you should complete beforehand. You can find out all you need to know here.