Cars & motorcycles
Loans & mortgages
Healthcare & pensions
Trouble-free paperwork – what drivers need to know
No need for stress due to opening hours: in many cantons, such as Zurich, you can simply send the documents by post, for example when registering a car or applying for a driving licence. If you are not required to send the original document, you can sometimes also scan it in and send it by e-mail.
List of addresses and contact information of all Road Traffic Offices (not available in English)
The date of a technical inspection can be requested or changed online.
On the form, you certify as the owner of the car that you have already taken out motor vehicle liability insurance and submitted all the necessary documents to the Road Traffic Office. You will need to have these documents stamped by your garage or car insurance company beforehand.
If you change vehicles, you can cancel your current policy and switch to a new insurance. This pays off as you can save several hundred francs. Note: You have to change your insurance before registering a new car because you need to request the proof of insurance for the Road Traffic Office from your new insurance company, not the old one.
In order to obtain a vehicle registration certificate and number plates, you have to hand in the following:
Don’t forget: first buy insurance for your car – then go to the Road Traffic Office. You do not have insurance yet? Make an online comparison of car insurance now and save money!
The authorities regularly inspect the road (or water) safety of cars, motorcycles, buses, trucks and ships. Owners therefore have to present their vehicle for inspection (MFK in German) upon request.
These intervals continue to apply after a change of ownership.
When importing cars, this official technical inspection must be carried out prior to registration, irrespective of whether it is a new car that has just been bought or an older vehicle brought along by immigrants.
If you wish to apply for transferable number plates for several vehicles, you should explicitly point out that you are applying for transferable number plates when ordering the electronic proof of insurance as this needs to be stated in there.
You further need:
Note: transferable number plates are only available for vehicles of the same category; for example for two motorcycles, two cars or two commercial vehicles. In the case of vintage cars, it is often even possible to register more than two vehicles under the same number.
As the owner of the car, you first need to fill in a notice of loss form. This can be downloaded from the website of the Road Traffic Office in charge. You can then either personally collect a replacement certificate upon presentation of an identity card or the office will send it to you directly by mail.
In case of theft, please file a police report!
Here also applies: the certificate can either be handed in at the counter or sent by mail. If you send it by mail, you should include a note saying «annullieren» (invalidate). The authority will return the invalidated document to the owner. If no new vehicle is registered within 14 days, the old number plates must be handed over either at the Road Traffic Office or at a post-office counter.
For transfer trips you need a day permit and temporary number plates. These are valid for up to 96 hours.
Persons from different cantons usually need to make a safety deposit. In Lucerne, for example, a deposit of 500 francs is required. Cars with temporary number plates only have liability insurance. This means that damage under casco insurance is not covered.
Upon expiry of the validity period, you need to return the plates and permit to the Road Traffic Office.
If you wish to get a specific number plate, you can generally do this at the counter of the Road Traffic Office only. It is usually not possible to make a reservation by phone or on the Internet. The extra fee must be paid in cash or by card.
The smaller the plate number, the deeper owners have to dig into their pockets. In the canton of Lucerne, for example, the fees are clearly graded. If you wish for plates with a number between 1 and 99, you must pay 9000 francs.
In many other cantons such as Zurich, St. Gallen or Aargau, popular numbers are sold by auction, sometimes at online auctions.
In order for the process to run smoothly, owners should keep in mind that they need to have motor vehicle insurance before going to the authorities. Your insurance company will electronically send the proof of insurance to the Road Traffic Office, so you will not have to take care of that.
We therefore advise you to compare car insurance early. You can save money by making a free online comparison. Your personal quotes will be sent to you by e-mail right away.
Back to top
Stay up-to-date with the latest savings deals as well as expert tips on health, money and tax.
By registering, I agree to my data being processed in accordance with the data privacy statement of comparis.ch.