Must-knows about the Swiss motorway vignette

  • A vignette is required to drive on Swiss motorways.
  • It’s available as a sticker or as a digital vignette.
  • Vignettes can be purchased online, at the border, or at gas stations.
  • An additional vignette is obligatory for trailers and caravans.
  • Swiss rental cars already have a vignette.

Online purchase of the motorway vignette

Order your vignette online. Environmental badges for Germany (Umweltplaketten) and France (Crit’Air), as well as the vignette for Austria, can be purchased too: vignetteshop.ch.

What is the Swiss motorway vignette?

The motorway vignette is a road tax sticker or electronic product for your car. The vignette is obligatory for driving on the national road network (‘Nationalstrassennetz’). This network consists of motorways (highways) but includes a few smaller roads as well.

The vignette is a requirement for both Swiss citizens and tourists.

The price of the vignette

The price of the Swiss motorway vignette is CHF 40, excluding any shipping costs for the sticker. It’s a prepaid toll for an entire year.

Separate tolls for specific routes are very rare in Switzerland. The vignette allows you to drive on nearly all roads.

The validity of the vignette

The Swiss motorway vignette is valid for 14 months. Validity starts on December 1 of the previous year and ends after January 31 of the next year. There are no daily, weekly, or monthly vignettes.

For example: the 2024 vignette is valid from 1 December 2023 through 31 January 2025. If you need a vignette for a trip in December, it’s best to buy a vignette for the next year.

Why we think the motorway vignette is worth it

We mostly take public transport in Switzerland, but we still buy the motorway vignette for nearly all of our holidays. That’s because our incoming and outgoing journeys are by car. Without the vignette, it would be too time-consuming and stressful to avoid the Swiss motorways.

When we travel to Switzerland by train, we do not buy the vignette, nor do we rent a car.

Which vehicles need a motorway vignette

You need to buy a motorway vignette for cars, motorcycles, motorhomes, campervans, trailers, and caravans. So driving with a car plus a caravan requires two vignettes.

The Swiss motorway vignette is for vehicles with a weight of up to 3500 kg. Heavier vehicles need to pay a heavy vehicle charge instead.

Motorway vignette for rental cars

If you rent a car in Switzerland, the vignette is included. If you rent a car elsewhere in Europe, a vignette is not included in most cases.

Where to buy the Swiss vignette

The motorway vignette can be purchased:

  1. online. You can cross the border using the fast lane, and if you bought the sticker, you can take your time to apply it properly.
  2. at gas stations near the Swiss border in Austria, France, Germany, and Italy.
  3. at the Swiss border: pick the lane for cars without a vignette.

The fine for driving without a vignette

The fine for driving on a Swiss motorway without a vignette is CHF 200, plus the costs of a vignette. If you drive with a vignette that is not applied correctly or damaged, that too is considered driving without a vignette.

Driving in Switzerland without the vignette

You’re allowed to drive without the vignette if you avoid the motorways. In most cases, the inconvenience of doing so is not worth the money you’ll save. But for short trips into Switzerland, a vignette might not be necessary.

If you choose to drive without the motorway vignette, it’s essential to avoid the roads that are announced with signs that have white text on a green background. Another way to recognize such roads is their numbers, which have the letter A as a prefix. The A3 is the motorway connecting Basel to Zurich, for example. Many of these roads have an E-number as well, which is the European motorway numbering system.

Avoiding the motorways takes extra time. Driving with extra focus is required because you will instead be using regional roads. Those roads cross villages, have traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, and there will be other traffic such as bikes and agricultural vehicles.

For example: if you drive from one end of Lake Lucerne to the other (Lucerne to Flüelen), it takes 35 minutes via the motorway south of the lake and 70 minutes via smaller roads north of the lake. The northern road is more scenic, but the time difference is considerable.

How to put the vignette sticker on your vehicle

You’ll find instructions on the backside of the vignette.

  • Car: stick the vignette on the inside of your windshield. Put it either in the lower left corner, the upper left corner, or in the middle near the rearview mirror. Pick a place where it does not obstruct your view and where it’s clearly visible from the outside.
  • Motorcycle: put it in the lower left corner of the inside of the windscreen.
  • Caravan: put it on the front window, similar to a car.
  • Trailer: place it on a non-removable and visible part of the vehicle.

Once attached, the vignette can’t be moved. So carefully select and clean the place where you want to stick it.

Only correctly applied vignettes are valid. They must be stuck directly onto the vehicle. Using tape, leaving it on the dashboard, or any other alternative way makes it invalid. Removed vignettes are no longer valid.

How to remove the vignette from your vehicle

Use a scraper with a thin sharp blade to remove the sticker from the window. Then clean with cleaning benzene. If you don’t have this, try WD-40 or alcohol.

Note that the Swiss vignette is not transferable to another car or person. That’s not allowed once it has been used. Also, the sticker consists of various loosely connected pieces that will fall apart once removed from the windshield. You can only pass on vignettes that have not been used yet.

The Swiss e-vignette

An electronic vignette is available too. It’s an alternative to the sticker. The price is the same and there are no other differences.

The e-vignette is linked to the license plate of the vehicle. It can’t be copied or sold to someone else. It can’t be exchanged for a sticker. The e-vignette is for sale online.

Additional tolls on top of the vignette

The Swiss motorway vignette covers nearly all Swiss roads. In a few exceptional cases, you’ll have to pay an additional amount. This goes for:

  • car trains;
  • 2 tunnels between Switzerland and Italy: the San Bernardino tunnel and the Munt la Schera tunnel at Livigno;
  • some car ferries, such as the one between Horgen and Meilen on Lake Zurich, and the one between Gersau and Beckenried on Lake Lucerne;
  • a few private roads and smaller roads, such as the one from Kandersteg into the Gastern Valley.

You need more than just a vignette

In most cases, you need more than a vignette if you’re spending your holidays in Switzerland. Many areas, including all mountain tops, can not be reached by car. A rail pass provides free or discounted trips by cable car, boat, train, funiculars, etc. Without a pass, you would pay the full fare, which can be pretty expensive.

The Swiss Half Fare Card is a popular pass for drivers, but there are more options.

Stick’Air for the low-emission zone in Geneva

The town center of Geneva is a low-emission zone. You need a so-called ‘Stick’Air’ if you want to enter the area by car. This sticker must be applied to your windscreen. It comes in 5 categories: 1 is for the cleanest vehicles, 5 is for the most polluting ones.

Other websites of interest

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Page author: ArnoI have visited Switzerland countless times since 1997. I've explored most of the country, but find myself staying in the Bernese Oberland and Graubünden most frequently. The alps and the rail network remain very impressive, even after all these years.