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Will be in France by Lake Geneva Switzerland. Can u just pop into Switzerland?

Will be traveling in France by Lake Geneva Switzerland. Can u just cross the boarder by car into Switzerland? I heard they are not a EU country so wasn't sure if there would be any problems. Just basically want to cross the border into Switzerland on my travels just to say I've been to Switzerland but no real time to stop as I will be traveling by car to Paris.

Posted by
4174 posts

A Swiss vignette is a sticker that is required on all cars, including rentals, that travel on 1st and 2nd class roads. Here's a link to the info about them: http://www.ezv.admin.ch/zollinfo_privat/04338/04340/index.html?lang=en. If you do not have one, you can be fined heavily. Depending on your route, there could be any number of opportunities for you to be caught without it.

Your rental agency should tell you about them if they know you are going into Switzerland, but you typically cannot get one from the agency unless you rent the car in Switzerland. You have to buy it elsewhere. Be sure to click on all relevant info at the website I linked to find out the rules, where to buy the vignette, etc.

Posted by
33 posts

So I'm definitely not going to buy one of those vignettes as the price is too steep and I'm going to be in there country for like 15 minutes max. Any idea if there would be "checkpoint Charlie" as soon as I enter the country that I would definitely get fined? Or do you think I would be ok if I am in and out so quick? Finally if I am unable to drive a car in because I definitely would be fined, is there anywhere along the French motorway around Lake Geneva Switzerland where I could park my car in France and walk across the border into Switzerland kiss the swiss ground and immediately turn back around go back into France and continue on my journey by car into Paris? I'm sure glad I posted this question because I definitely don't want a fine. If I can't avoid the fine then I just won't bother to go to Switzerland.

Posted by
33301 posts

If you arrive in Switzerland by either a a secondary road or a motorway expect to have your windshield inspected for the the little rust coloured rounded square sticker - Vignette - as you slowly drive through the chicane put there so they can inspect every car. My experience in the last 2 weeks was on all sorts of roads and was stopped on all of them for customs questions and a review of our passports.

Switzerland has considerably tightened its borders recently.

Because of Schengen the checks have been much more about customs.

Lost 40 minutes at Chiasso the other day, not because of the Swiss but because of the Italian customs looking for money smugglers...

Park your car at a station and take a train or a bus, both of which regularly cross between France and Switzerland.

Posted by
3621 posts

I'd suggest you consider taking one of the lake boats from one of the French towns to Geneva or Lausanne, or just for a cruise around the lake.

Posted by
755 posts

The lake boats are lovely. We took one from Evian, France to Lausanne, Switzerland. Also, you can take a scenic boat cruise to the medieval castle of Chateau de Chillon.

Posted by
3791 posts

There is also a ferry service across the lake. I took it from Lausanne to Evian but you could do the opposite route. Also, if you stay on non Category 1 and 2 roads you will not need the vignette.

Posted by
33 posts

Sorry I'm not sure what you mean by non Category 1 and 2 roads. What are the equivant road types in US compared to Switzerland?

Posted by
33301 posts

side streets, and local roads (mostly). Even some local looking roads with only one lane are treated as highways by Swiss.

You may not drive on any road with a green sign. Or a blue sign if accompanied at headlight level by a small oblong green sign with a white graphic of a car.

The Vignette is strictly enforced.

Posted by
33301 posts

Now that I have seen George's post which was at the time as mine, I think he summarizes it well.

Posted by
16894 posts

Switzerland is part of the Schengen borders agreement, so there are no passport checks between Switzerland and any neighbor, or France and any neighbor on the Continent, but the highway police can use their own methods for issues they're watching.

Posted by
33301 posts

What Laura said is basically correct, but I've just been on the ground there in the last 2 weeks...

I drive a UK registered car with a windscreen full of Swiss and Austrian vignettes going back many years and travel with a UK passport. I entered and left Switzerland from Austria, around Bregenz, several times on different roads, out of Switzerland into Italy at Chiasso, in and out of Germany around Konstanz, Basel, Schaffhausen, Singen and secondary areas on various levels of roads - - and every single time we crossed this year we had our passports checked.

We weren't discriminated against because of driving a British car, either. Every other vehicle we could see ahead of us in both directions was being checked too.

Regardless of Schengen, let me let you know that this year they are checking.