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 2023 vignette is valid from 1 December 2022 through 31 January 2024. If you need a vignette for a trip in December, it's best to buy the one 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. For example: a car plus caravan requires two vignettes.
The Swiss motorway vignette is for vehicles with a weight 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:
at gas stations near the Swiss border in Austria, France, Germany and Italy;
at the Swiss border: pick the lane for cars without a vignette;
online. You can take your time to apply the vignette to your car properly, and cross the border using the fast lane.
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 is also 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 be unnecessary.
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 are 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. Also, more concentrated driving 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 40 minutes via the motorway south of the lake and 75 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 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 the 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 clearly 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. It must be sticked 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 rubbing 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.
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 to 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, trains, 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.
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, so it can't be copied or sold to someone else. It can't be exchanged for a sticker.