Moving to Switzerland with your car
From importation to Swiss number plate
If you want to take your vehicle with you when you move to Switzerland, you first have to declare it for customs clearance. After that, you usually have one year to register it in Switzerland. In addition, your car must be presented for technical inspection before it can be registered.
Motorway tax sticker
Importing a car into Switzerland
You must declare your vehicle at customs at the Swiss border on your own initiative. If you have owned it for more than 6 months, it is considered personal property (i.e. part of your household effects) and therefore free of import duty. You need to have the following things with you:
- Legal personal ID
- Vehicle registration certificate
- Declaration/Application for clearance of household effects, form 18.44 (see below)
- Proof of transfer of domicile (preferably a tenancy agreement). Assurance of residence permit is not required for citizens of EU and EFTA states (however, this does not apply to Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia).
If you wish to import a new car, you can find more tips and information on the procedure in the information sheet of the Federal Customs Administration (FCA):
You must register your car within one year of your arrival (NOTE: if it is a new car, you only have one month). This means, you are allowed to drive your car with the foreign number plates for one year. During this period, you need to take care of the following 4 things:
- Apply for registration with the Road Traffic Office of your canton of residence.
- Carry out a premium comparison and choose the car insurance that meets your needs.
- Get in touch with the insurance company to arrange for insurance coverage.
- You must have a technical inspection performed on your vehicle. The Road Traffic Office of your canton will carry this out. You will automatically be given an appointment as soon as the office receives your documents.
For a vehicle to be registered and given a Swiss number plate, it needs to comply with the provisions on construction and equipment. To verify this, you must present it for motor vehicle inspection (MFK in German). Details on the registration provisions and the documents you need to present can be obtained from the Road Traffic Office of your canton.
Usually, the following documents are required:
- Inspection report (form 13.20 A for new vehicles and form 13.20 B for used vehicles; this will be issued by customs or is available from your garage)
- Confirmation of liability insurance
- Anti-pollution booklet (available from a garage that services your make of vehicle)
- Proof of foreign registration (e.g. registration certificate V5C in the UK)
- Confirmation of customs clearance
- Technical data of the vehicle (e.g. maintenance booklet)
- Residence permit (original)
- Confirmation of compliance with European standards. If not available, you need to present: confirmation of exhaust gas and noise emissions
- Confirmation that the first invoice from the Road Traffic Office has been paid (post confirmation receipt, payment slip)
Good to know:
It may take several months to get an appointment for motor vehicle inspection (MFK). So don't put off tackling this task until shortly before the deadline.
Once you have your Swiss registration plate, you will not have to hand it back in any time soon because, in Switzerland, number plates are associated with an individual, not with a specific vehicle. This means that you may keep your number if you sell your car.
To register your car in Switzerland and get a Swiss number plate, you first need to present your car to the Road Traffic Office of your canton for technical inspection.
A vehicle that has been regularly serviced usually requires little repair work in preparation for this inspection. You can have this done at your garage. TCS (Swiss Touring Club) recommends to ensure the proper operation of all inspected components, i.e.:
- Clean the car top and bottom if it is very dirty
- Check lights and headlight settings
- Check whether the brakes work evenly
- Check steering, suspension and underbody
If you have an older car, you might want to compare its value to the cost of preparing it for inspection. If the servicing work costs more than the residual value of your car, it is not worth the trouble.
Good to know:
In Switzerland, vehicles must be presented for follow-up inspection (MFK in German) on a regular basis to ensure that it complies with the legal requirements regarding operational safety. Check out the TCS website for further information (not available in English).
When you drive on first and second-class motorways in Switzerland, a motorway tax sticker is mandatory. Without it, you risk a hefty fine.
- All motorised vehicles including cars, motorcycles, delivery vans and trailers such as caravans and floats must be fitted with a sticker.
- You must affix the sticker by 1 February of the current year at the latest. (It is valid from 1 December of the previous year until 31 January of the following year).
A new year's sticker can be bought at gas stations, post offices, service areas and customs starting from December.
- Price: 40 francs
- In cars, the motorway tax sticker must be affixed on the inside of the windscreen in a clearly visible place and according to instructions.
- If the police catch you driving on a motorway without a valid sticker or with a wrongly affixed sticker, you will be fined with 200 francs.
All vehicles must be correctly fitted with one sticker each. It is prohibited to affix it with adhesive tape or foil. This can result in a fine of several hundred francs.
Good to know:
You can also buy motorway tax stickers abroad (for example from ADAC in Germany). More points of sale abroad can be found on the website of the Federal Customs Administration (FCA).