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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.
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:
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:
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:
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.:
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 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).