A topic, which is often overlooked, when preparing for a visit to Switzerland is buying a motorway vignette. A Swiss vignette is mandatory and required to drive on the Swiss motorways. In this blog, we will tell you everything you need to know about the Swiss motorway vignette.
What is a Swiss motorway vignette?
The Swiss motorway vignette is a physical road tax sticker, which is placed on the windshield of the car, on the front window. The Swiss vignette was introduced in 1985. The vignette is mandatory if you want to drive on the national road network, so as the motorways. The network of motorways consists of almost all of the motorways, and some smaller roads are included as well.
The costs of a swiss motorway vignette
The price for a motorway vignette is CHF 40. No shipping costs are included. Good to know, you can easily buy a swiss vignette in your home country as well. Most countries offer a way to buy a vignette online, so the vignette is delivered by post. This single vignette allows you to drive on almost all roads in Switzerland. Good to know: if you travel with a trailer or go on holiday with a caravan, buying an additional vignette is mandatory!
One additional tip, you can buy a vignette at a petrol station near the border, but to avoid waiting at the petrol station, we advise buying a vignette in advance. As we mentioned above, the vignette can be delivered to your home, or you can pick it up at airports such as Basel, Zurich or Geneva.
Where can I buy a Swiss Vignette?
There are several places where you can buy a swiss motorway vignette:
- near the border, you can buy your vignette at a petrol station. So near the border in the countries: Germany, Italy, France and Austria.
- you can easily buy a swiss vignette online, the vignette can be delivered to your home. This means you can apply the vignette to your windshield at home, and you can take the fast lane on the Swiss border. This will save a lot of time and stress.
- If you have not bought a vignette online, you can take the lane on the Swiss border, with the sign: cars without a vignette.
Validity of the swiss motorway vignette
The Swiss vignette is valid for one year. In addition to many other countries, you can not buy a swiss vignette for 5 days, a week or a month. You can buy the Swiss vignette for 40 CHF and it is valid for one year. A swiss vignette is valid from December 1 of the previous year and ends after January 31 of the next year. We made a small example below to give you an idea of the validity of a Swiss vignette.
- The vignette is valid from the 1st of December 2022 till 31st of January 2024. If you will need a vignette for your next holidays in March 2023? The best thing to do is buy one for 2023. As you need to keep in mind, the vignette of Switzerland is valid for one year! So in that way you could for example Visit Switzerland in August during the summer season in 2022. At the petrol stations or online, you always get the latest version.
Do rental cars need a vignette?
Before you buy a vignette in advance please read this first. If you won’t travel to Switzerland in your private car, but instead hire a rental car. You don’t need to buy a vignette. The rental cars come with a swiss vignette. Please be aware, a vignette is included if you hire a rental car in Switzerland. Not, if you rent a car in Italy or Austria for example.
Which vehicles need a swiss vignette?
A swiss motorway vignette is mandatory for cars, motorhomes, campervans, trails, caravans and motorcycles. As we mentioned earlier if you travel by car with a trailer, or with your car and caravan. You will need to buy two vignettes. Good to know: the vignette is applicable for vehicles with a weight of up to 3.5 tons, so 3500 kilograms. Heavier vehicles will need to pay the heavy vehicle charge instead of buying a swiss motorway vignette.
How much is the fine for driving without a vignette
For the people thinking the vignette is not that important, read this: the fine for driving on the Swiss motorway without a valid vignette can be up to 200 CHF and an additional 40 CHF for the vignette. This is important as well: driving with a valid vignette, but not applied in the right way, or a bit damaged is considered driving without a valid vignette and this means you can be fined.
Can you drive in Switzerland without a vignette?
Yes, in theory, it is possible to drive in Switzerland without a vignette, but this means you will have to avoid the swiss motorways, as on these roads a vignette is mandatory. In our opinion, the pre-research, and inconvenience are not worth the 40 CHF you are saving. Although, this may be worth it for a really short journey through Switzerland. Then a vignette might be abundant as you can avoid the motorways.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the theory of driving in Switzerland without a vignette. As mentioned above, you will need to avoid the roads with a sign, with white text on a green background. The ramps are clearly labelled before the approach. So if you pay attention, you will be able to avoid these roads. Roads where a vignette is mandatory also have an A as a prefix, so for example A4, the motorway from Schaffhausen.
So not buying a vignette, is a possibility, but it will take more time, as the “free” roads are the regional roads, these roads will cross smaller towns and villages. Which have traffic lights, bikes and many pedestrians crossing the road. This will make your trip duration longer. But of course, you will see beautiful villages, so if you have plenty of time, this isn’t a bad option at all.
Is it mandatory to remove an old vignette?
Yes and no, it is advised to remove old vignettes, because according to the police, these old stickers may block your view. Which may cause dangerous situations. Our advice is to remove your old vignette and prevent a fine. It totally depends on the police officer, whether he will warn you or may fine you.
How to stick the vignette on your vehicle?
In your car, you will need to stick the vignette to the inside of the windshield of your car. It is important that the vignette is visible from the outside. On the vignette, instructions are on the back as well! Important to keep in mind, do not stick the vignette in a place, where your view is blocked. Not correctly attaching the vignette, may cause a fine.
Best way to remove an old Swiss motorway vignette
There are several ways to remove your old vignette, but to prevent scratches from a sharp tool or other tools, we advise using a ceramic hob scraper, most people have one in their kitchen. If possible use a hair dryer to warm the sticker a bit, this will make the process even easier. If the sticker leaves some adhesive residues, just use some nail polish remover.
Any tolls besides the vignette
Although the swiss motorway vignette covers almost all swiss roads, there are some exceptions. Where you need to pay extra. A few exceptions are:
- the San Bernardino tunnel and the Munt la Schera tunnel at Livigno
- Some ferries come with additional costs
- the Oberaar panorama road at the Grimsel pass
- car trains in Switzerland
Do you need more than just the Swiss motorway vignette?
Yes, you will need more passes. Switzerland is known for its majestic mountains. To get to the top of these mountains, you will need to buy ski lift passes. In our other blogs, we’ve written about ski lift passes. If you would like to travel by train to Switzerland? Check out our blog about the Swiss travel pass, you may be able to save quite some money.
We can conclude that buying a swiss motorway vignette is mandatory if you want to drive on the motorways, these motorways are signed with a green sign. The price for a swiss vignette is 40 CHF. You can easily purchase a Swiss vignette online. It will be delivered to your home. This will save time and stress. If you are not able to purchase a vignette online, there are several ways to buy your vignette near the border at a petrol station for example.
In the blog we discussed the option of not buying a vignette, this is possible if you do not travel on the Swiss motorways. In the blog, you can also read that the fines, if you have not applied the vignette in the correct way are pretty high. We hope everything is clear about the Swiss motorway vignette. If you have any other questions, leave a comment below!