Driving in Switzerland: Everything You Need to Know About the Swiss E-Vignette
Driving in Switzerland allows you to explore alpine scenery at your own pace. But first, you must display a valid Swiss e-vignette or face steep fines. This electronic toll sticker is mandatory for using motorways and some main roads.
On January 1, 2023, the new e-vignette system was introduced, eliminating the need to stick paper vignettes on your windshield. Instead, the e-vignette is conveniently connected to your vehicle’s license plate number. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about the Swiss vignette, from where to buy to the rules of the road. With an e-vignette, you’ll be ready to hit the open streets and revel in Switzerland’s natural splendor.
What is the Swiss E-Vignette?
The Swiss e-vignette is a digital toll sticker required for driving on Switzerland’s motorways and some main roads. It replaced the paper vignette stickers on January 1, 2023.
The e-vignette is linked to your vehicle’s license plate number rather than the windshield. This makes it more convenient as you don’t have to worry about removing stickers when switching vehicles.
When is the E-Vignette Required?
It would help if you had a valid e-vignette to drive on:
- All motorways (indicated with a green sign with a red border)
- Some main roads, like the A13 from Chur to San Bernardino
The e-vignette is NOT required on regular Swiss roads, mountain passes, or border crossings.
However, you must still pay tolls in the Gotthard, San Bernardino, Grand Saint Bernard, and Mt. Ceneri tunnels. The e-vignette does not cover those tunnel fees.
How Much Does the E-Vignette Cost?
The e-vignette costs 40 CHF and is valid for 14 months, from December 1 to January 31.
Prices vary based on the type of vehicle:
- Cars, camper vans, and motorcycles – 40 CHF
- Service vehicles – 25 CHF
- Annual multi-lane usage – 350 CHF
Buying multiple e-vignettes for more extended stays may be cheaper than paying daily fines.
Where to Buy the Swiss E-Vignette
The easiest way to buy an e-vignette is online and are available on Vignetteswitzerland.com. You can purchase online up to 90 days in advance.
Other options include:
- Swiss border crossings
- Most gas stations
- Private online resellers
You’ll need your vehicle registration paperwork and a valid credit card when buying online. Make sure to double-check the license plate number.
How the E-Vignette Works
The e-vignette system uses automatic license plate recognition. Cameras mounted along motorways and main roads scan license plates and check for valid e-vignettes.
You’ll receive a digital confirmation after purchasing the e-vignette online. There’s no need to display anything on your vehicle. Officials can electronically verify your e-vignette status.
If you buy an e-vignette at the border, gas station, or reseller, activate it immediately via text message, app, or website. Activation can take up to two hours.
Validity and Duration
The e-vignette must be activated before entering Switzerland’s vignette zone. It becomes valid immediately after activation.
E-vignettes are valid for 14 months, from December 1 to January 31 of the following year.
- If you activate on December 1, it expires on January 31 of the following year.
- If you start on December 15, it still expires on January 31.
You cannot pause or transfer an unused e-vignette to a new license plate. Try to buy it as close as possible to your travel dates.
Fines for Non-Compliance
Driving in Switzerland without a valid vignette can lead to hefty fines. On-the-spot fines range from 200 CHF for cars to 700 CHF for trucks.
If caught immediately, you’ll have to buy an e-vignette and pay the fine. The police may also request an on-the-spot cash payment.
Instead of taking risks, buying and displaying an e-vignette correctly is better. The 40 CHF cost is a small convenience fee that helps maintain Switzerland’s roads for safe travel.
Driving Tips for Switzerland
Beyond having the required e-vignette, it helps to know some critical driving rules and etiquette for safely navigating Switzerland’s roads and highways.
Follow Speed Limits
Swiss speed limits are strictly enforced:
- 120 km/h on motorways
- 80 km/h outside urban areas
- 50 km/h in urban areas
Switzerland uses a lot of speed and red light cameras. Fines for minor speed violations start at 250 CHF.
Yield to Merging Traffic
Swiss highways don’t have acceleration lanes. Traffic merging onto the motorway has the right of way. Be courteous and move over a road.
Keep right except to pass. The left lane is only for overtaking. Hogging the left lane can earn you flashing headlights and fines.
Turn your headlights on even during daylight hours. This is required by law.
Carry a High Visibility Vest
All vehicles must have a high visibility vest for each passenger in case of roadside emergencies.
Don’t Drink and Drive
DUI laws are strict, with no tolerance for alcohol under the age of 21 or professional drivers. The BAC limit is 0.05% for drivers over 21. Penalties include hefty fines and license suspension.
Use Annual Vignettes for Frequent Travel
If you take frequent multi-day trips to Switzerland, consider getting an annual multi-lane vignette. At 350 CHF, it can offer savings over multiple short-term vignettes.
Adjust for Alpine Conditions
Rain, fog, snow, and ice are common in the mountains. Reduce speed, keep distance between cars, and turn on your fog lights when necessary. Carry chains or snow tires, depending on the season.
Enjoy the Ride in Scenic Switzerland
An e-vignette enables you to fully embrace the magic of driving in Switzerland. From the winding hairpin turns of the Gotthard Pass to the glistening views of Interlaken, a road trip allows you to set your own pace. Stop frequently to snap photos of snow-capped peaks or wander charming mountain villages.
Don’t just rush through Switzerland; take it all in. Pull over at an Alpine meadow to enjoy a picnic from a local bakery and cheesemaker. Let the children run wild picking edelweiss flowers. Breathe deep and savor the fresh mountain air.
The modest investment of 40 CHF for an e-vignette grants you access to a journey across Switzerland on well-maintained highways and byways. Keep an e-vignette on hand whenever the mood strikes for an impromptu drive. With your license plate registered and e-vignette activated, Switzerland’s roads are yours to embrace. Just follow the rules, watch your speed, and remember to enjoy the ride.
Switzerland’s splendid scenery is best experienced at your own pace behind the wheel. Drive safely, relish the freedom, and create fond memories of your Swiss road trip that will last a lifetime.