Despite having a superb public transport system, Switzerland has developed a comprehensive road network that ranks among the safest in Europe.
There are more than 6 million motor vehicles on Swiss roads, of which 4.6 million are cars, according to the Federal Statistical Officeexternal link. However, car-sharing is also popular: the Mobilityexternal link car-sharing system has been more successful in Switzerland than in any other country where it operates.
Drivers must be at least 18 years old in Switzerland to operate motorbikes and cars. A change in the law will allow young people to obtain a provisional licence at 17 from January 1, 2021. Drivers must be at least 21 to drive buses. Driving at 16 or even 14 is permitted in certain cases for small mopeds and scooters as well as farm equipment.
From February 1, 2019, whoever passes their Swiss driving test in an automatic vehicle is also allowed to drive a manual car.
In Switzerland people drive on the right side of the road.
Foreigners coming to Switzerland can use their national driving licence from home for the first 12 months of their stay, but must exchange their national driver's licence for a Swiss one before the 12 months are up. This is largely an administrative matter for EU/EFTA nationals, as well as those from numerous other countries, including Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. Nationals of some other countries must take a theory test, a road test or both to obtain a Swiss licence. Some cantons require drivers to have a vision test.
If a person fails to exchange a foreign driver’s licence within a year, they are unable to drive in Switzerland and may be required to take the theory and practical tests.
Hereexternal link is more information on obtaining a Swiss driving licence.
For a list of road traffic offices by canton, visit the Association of Road Traffic Officesexternal link in German or French. Please also visit the Federal Roads Officeexternal link for more information.
Vehicles must meet regulations set for safety as well as noise and exhaust emissions.
Vehicles can be imported into Switzerland duty-free for those who are moving to the country to reside. At the point of entry the owner must present customs officials with form 18.44 (Declaration for clearance of household effects) completed in duplicate. Download that form hereexternal link.
In addition the owner must present a valid driver's licence and the vehicle's proof of purchase documents.
Once in the country, the vehicle must be brought to the appropriate authorities for inspection. Vehicles that are to remain in Switzerland for longer than one year must have Swiss plates. Drivers here for longer than one year will also need a Swiss driving licence.
More information on customs formalities when relocating to Switzerland can be found at the Federal Customs Officeexternal link.
Children under 12 years old who are not yet 150cm (four feet 11 inches) must ride in booster seats, while even smaller children must be restrained in appropriate child-safety seats. More information on child seats hereexternal link. Drivers and passengers on all motorised two-wheeled vehicles must wear helmets.