How does the Swiss Half Fare Card work?
With a Swiss Half Fare Card you are entitled to buy tickets at half the regular fare. Get such a ticket before each trip and then board with your Swiss Half Fare Card and the ticket at hand.
Printing and validating the card
The validation process is mostly a thing of the past. In almost all cases, the Swiss Half Fare Card is ready for traveling once you have printed it (or received it via regular mail). You will receive a PDF file via e-mail, with a code that train staff can scan from your smart phone (set screen brightness to the maximum). Officially you need a printout too, so be sure to also print the card on A4 or Letter sized paper, either at home or in your hotel.
Validation is not required if the card contains all information (start date, passenger names and passport numbers), and there's nothing left to fill out.
In rare cases, one of the validation (or: activation) processes below applies:
- You can validate the card yourself. This is the case if there is no area on the card that requires a stamp from the Swiss Railways, and if the start date of the pass is already printed on it. You will need to fill out a few details: usually the name and passport number of the traveler, and the country of your passport;
- Your card needs to be validated by railway personnel. This is the case if there is an area that requires a stamp from the Swiss Railways, and if the start date of the card is not filled out yet. You can have the card validated at a staffed Swiss station or by personnel on board international trains bound for Switzerland.
Period of validity
A Swiss Half Fare Card is valid for one month. If validity starts on July 15 it will end after August 14.
You need to arrange for a discounted ticket before starting each trip. Tickets are available online, at manned rail stations during opening hours, from the ticketing machines at (rail) stations, or through the SBB app. Every adult needs a Swiss Half Fare Card of his own in order to be able to travel with discounted tickets.
You do not need seat reservations for 99% of all trains and buses in Switzerland. You can just board with your Swiss Half Fare Card plus a ticket. Exceptions are some international trains and some panoramic trains like the Glacier Express and Bernina Express. If you need, or want, seat reservations, you need to arrange for them separately. Seat reservations are not included in the Swiss Half Fare Card.
About train seat reservations
About bus seat reservations
On board the train
Once you're on board, you will need to present your Swiss Half Fare Card plus your ticket to the ticket controllers upon request. The controller may want to check your passport as well, to make sure you're the owner of the presented card.
Traveling beyond the area covered by the card
You may have planned a trip not completely covered by the Swiss Half Fare Card. You can check the map to find which part of your trip is covered. You will have to buy a regular ticket for the part of the trip that is not covered, and a discounted ticket for the part that is covered.
Example: you intend to travel from Milan to Interlaken. As you can see on the map, Domodossola - Interlaken is covered by the Swiss Half Fare Card. So you need to buy a regular ticket Milan - Domodossola, and a discounted ticket Domodossola - Interlaken. You don't need to get off the train in Domodossola. You have paid for the entire trip, so you can stay seated.