Rules and regulations

What should I watch out for when changing vehicle or keeper?

Source: iStock / courtneyk

Found a new car and want to get behind the wheel as soon as possible? Comparis explains how to painlessly complete the formalities for registering and re-registering a car – and save money at the same time.

What do I need to register a change of vehicle or keeper?

Take the following documents to the Road Traffic Office or send them by post – the latter will save you time and is often cheaper, as it does not incur a counter processing fee.

  • Original vehicle registration certificate for the vehicle you are replacing (if you are changing vehicle)
  • Original vehicle registration certificate for the new vehicle or form 13.20A for brand new cars (available from the dealer)
  • By post: “temporary road permit” form. This enables the vehicle to be driven on the roads from the posting date until the vehicle registration certificate arrives (max. 30 days).
  • Some cantons also require you to submit an additional road permit application for the vehicle. Find out more from your local Road Traffic Office.
  • You should also request electronic proof of compulsory vehicle liability insurance from your insurance company. Your insurance company will send this directly to the Road Traffic Office. Ensure that it is valid on the date of registration (the document must not be more than 30 days old). If you have not yet taken out car insurance, you can find a suitable car insurance deal quickly and easily on the Comparis website.

Good to know: when you register a vehicle for the first time, you usually need a copy of one of the following forms of ID to obtain the number plates: identity card, residence permit or Swiss driving licence. The Road Traffic Office also requires a certificate of residence from you. For company cars, you need an extract from the commercial register.

Changing vehicle: how does this affect my car insurance?

Changes of vehicle or keeper are opportunities to switch car insurance early and with no loss of premiums.

If you are a new keeper, you can take out a new insurance policy with your existing insurer or with a new insurer of your choice. This insurer will then issue proof of insurance for the Road Traffic Office in your name. When it has received this, the Road Traffic Office will transfer the vehicle to the new keeper.

If you are a previous keeper, you must inform your insurance company that your are no longer the keeper of that vehicle. The insurance policy is then cancelled and any premiums already paid will be refunded to you on a pro rata basis (by date).

When changing vehicle, you must always cancel your insurance in writing before you register the new car. You can use the Comparis cancellation letter template to cancel quickly and easily.

Our tip: if a vehicle is more than 10 years old, it must always undergo an inspection prior to a change of keeper. In most cantons this also applies to newer cars, if the last inspection took place more than one year ago. The new keeper must get the change recorded as soon as possible on the vehicle registration certificate.

Can I transfer my vehicle, including number plates, to another person?

Transferring a vehicle and its number plates to another person or company is only possible in certain cases:

  • To close family members (parents, grandparents, children, spouses, siblings)
  • To a cohabiting partner
  • To approved signatories within a company
  • From one company to another

Good to know: if a car and its number plates are transferred within a family, the new vehicle keeper must take over the insurance and cannot cancel it. The following documents are required for the transfer:

  • Original vehicle registration certificate
  • Proof of insurance
  • Surrender or transfer application form (available by post or at the counter)

I want to re-register my vehicle. What documents do I need?

If you want to re-register your vehicle, you should take or send the following documents to the Road Traffic Office:

  • Proof of insurance, which you request in advance from your insurer
  • Original vehicle registration certificate (only for change of address, insurance etc.)

The Road Traffic Office will send you the number plates by post. If you deposited them at the post office, you need to present the vehicle registration certificate when you collect them. For more information on addresses, forms, fees and so on, contact the Road Traffic Office for your canton.

Good to know: if you move to a different canton, you have 14 days in which to notify your new Road Traffic Office.