Greetings, fellow travelers! If you’re planning a road trip through scenic Switzerland, there’s something you need to be aware of before hitting the highways – the Swiss Vignette.
This little sticker is a legal requirement for all vehicles using the Swiss autobahns; it’s your passport to a hassle-free drive on the Swiss motorway network.
Stick with us as we navigate the ins and outs of the Swiss Vignette, ensuring your adventure is as smooth as the country’s famous chocolate!
In this detailed guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know to make sure you avoid getting fined on the highway (yes, it happens), including what it is, how much it costs, how long it is good for, and more.
So buckle up, roll down the windows, and let the adventure begin.
What is the Swiss Vignette?
The Swiss Vignette is a small, stick-on toll sticker that lets you legally drive on Swiss highways. The vignette system was implemented in 1985 to help maintain and improve the country’s high-quality road network and ensure everyone contributes to keeping the expressway safe and sound.
The vignette’s function is to give you hassle-free access to Swiss highways during its validity period.
For the most part, it is mandatory as it works like a road tax sticker for all motor vehicles and trailers, including cars, motorcycles, and large vehicles.
How Much Does a Swiss Vignette Cost?
Let’s break down the costs involved:
- For private cars costs CHF 40 (45 USD), while a vignette for motorcycles will cost you CHF 32 (37 USD). For large vehicles (over 3.5 tons), the price increases to CHF 100 (114 USD), and an additional CHF 150 (172 USD) for trailers.
- The validity of the 2023 sticker is from 1 December 2022 until 31 January 2024, for example. So it is not valid for a year as such. Basically, if you are driving or want to drive in that period, even for a week in that period, you need to have it on your vehicle.
- The electronic vignette (e-vignette) will be launched in a dual system alongside the sticker vignette on August 1st, 2023. The e-vignette will be available through a web shop operated by the Federal Office of Customs and Border Security.
- Another important point is; if you drive without a vignette and you get caught, you will be penalized CHF 200 (229 USD) and must purchase the vignette CHF 40 (45 USD)
To escape fines or other penalties, you must correctly put the vignette on your car’s windshield, so it is clearly visible before you hit the Swiss motorway.
Where to Buy the Swiss Vignette?
The official vignette can be purchased at a variety of authorized points of sale, making it convenient and accessible to both Swiss residents and international visitors.
You can get the Swiss motorway vignette two ways; Online and Offline. Let’s check out both options.
1. Offline Options
- Post Offices: Swiss Post Offices, located throughout Switzerland, also act as official points of sale for the motorway vignette. If you are already in Switzerland and want to purchase the vignette in person, going to a local post office is an easy option.
- Gas Stations: The Swiss motorway vignette will be available at most gas stations near Swiss borders and main entry points into the country. When crossing the border, gas stations with signs indicating the availability of the vignette are easy to see. However, remember that not all petrol stations in Switzerland sell the vignette, so ensure you get it at the first available point of sale or online before you drive.
- Customs Offices at Border Crossings: Customs offices at several border crossings in Switzerland sell the motorway vignette.
2. Online Options
In this digital age, purchasing the motorway vignette online has become increasingly popular and offers the advantage of avoiding potential long queues at gas stations!
Several official websites and authorized vendors allow you to purchase the vignette in advance.
All you need is internet access and a valid payment method, and the vignette will be delivered to your doorstep, ready to be affixed to your vehicle’s windshield, before you start your trip.
Use these websites to purchase your Vignette online:
In this case, the delivery may take a few days, and it’s essential to have the motorway vignette sticker displayed on your windshield before driving on Swiss motorways.
Whether you purchase it offline, at a service station, post office, or online, having the sticker appropriately affixed to your windshield is mandatory.
But, as of 2024, the vignette system is changing. You will be able to buy online and get an e-vignette immediately. This will be related to your number plate, and you won’t need to wait for a physical version.
When to Buy the Swiss Vignette
Buy before you drive. Very simply, you need to have it before you enter the motorway, and that’s it.
Don’t risk not buying it, the fine is expensive, and the Swiss Police keep an eye out for this type of thing, especially since it is now becoming linked to your number plate.
How to Affix Remove a Swiss Vignette
It is essential to apply and remove the vignette carefully. This is one sticky little sticker, and it’s easy to wreck it.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to attaching and removing the vignette:
1. Instructions for Affixing
Before affixing the vignette to your vehicle’s windscreen, ensure the area is clean and dry.
I always go for the inside passenger’s side of the windscreen where it won’t obstruct your view as a driver.
Carefully peel off the backing paper from the sticker and apply it to the glass. Press firmly, ensuring the vignette adheres without any bubbles or gaps.
What about removing it? Well, you will see that many people never do! Haha, like the pic above.
But it is actually easy to do; read on.
2. Removal Techniques
When it’s time to remove the motorway vignette from your windshield, the sticker can be quite stubborn and requires a little effort to remove it :
- Scraper/razor blade: Use a plastic scraper, a similar non-abrasive, or a clean razor blade tool to lift the vignette’s edges gently. Once you grip it, slowly peel it away from the glass.
- Heat: Apply heat to the vignette using a hairdryer or a heat gun on a low setting. This method helps soften the adhesive, making it easier to remove the sticker.
- Cleaning Benzene: Apply some cleaning benzene to a soft cloth and gently rub the edges of the vignette. This solvent can help break down the adhesive, allowing you to remove the sticker easily. Please note that you should use benzene in a well-ventilated area, as it can emit strong fumes.
Remember that, once removed, the vignette cannot be re-used or transferred to another vehicle. Purchase a new vignette if you need to replace your windscreen or change vehicles.
Do Rental Cars Have a Vignette Included?
If you’re renting a car in Switzerland, check with your rental company to ensure a vignette is included.
Most rental companies provide cars with vignettes already attached to the windshield. If the rental car doesn’t have a vignette, you’re responsible for purchasing one and attaching it during your rental period.
Renting a car from nearby Italy or France and driving through Switzerland, make sure you buy one!
Can You Drive in Switzerland Without a Valid Vignette?
You can drive without a vignette if you stay off the highways. Most of the time, your trouble is not worth the money you’ll save. But you might not need a valid vignette for short trips to and from Switzerland.
If you want to drive on a highway without a vignette, you must avoid the roads marked with white text on a green background. The word A comes before the number on these roads, another way to tell the difference.
Getting around the highways takes more time. Also, you’ll have to drive more carefully because you’ll use local roads instead. These roads go through towns and have traffic lights and places for people to cross.
I love this couple, they explain everything Swiss so well, and their videos are awesome!
Overall, the Swiss Vignette is more than a toll sticker; it is your key to discovering the captivating beauty of Switzerland’s expressway.
The vignette assures you’re on the correct path, both legally and visually, as you travel through the gorgeous Alps, stunning lakes, and charming towns.
To avoid any issues, buy one before you drive; it’s that simple.
Have a safe trip!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much does it cost?
The Swiss vignette costs CHF 40 ( 45 USD) per year. This cost covers all national highways and expressways in Switzerland, giving you unlimited access to these roads during the validity period.
2. Do I need to buy one?
You must have a vignette if you plan to drive on Swiss motorways. It is mandatory for all vehicles, including motorcycles and cars, regardless of their country of registration. You don’t need a vignette for local or regional roads.
3. Where can I buy it?
You can purchase a Swiss vignette at various locations, including at the Swiss border, gas stations, post offices, and online.
As of writing, the e-vignette is now starting to be sold online; it relates to your number plate. It’s best to obtain it before entering Switzerland to avoid any inconvenience.
4. Is there an e-vignette?
Yes!, As of 1st August 2023, the “Via Portal” of the Federal Office of Customs and Border Security (FOCBS) is where you may get your electronic toll sticker (e-vignette).
5. Are there daily options?
Swiss vignettes are only available as annual passes and are valid for the calendar year. There aren’t any daily, weekly, or monthly options available. Therefore, even if you plan to use the motorways briefly, you still need to purchase the annual vignette.
6. Can I avoid tolls?
If you prefer not to purchase a vignette, you can avoid toll roads by taking local or regional roads instead. Remember that this alternative may increase travel time, as these roads are usually slower and busier than motorways. Adjust your GPS settings to avoid highways, and follow the routes marked as “vignette-free roads.”