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How does the road fee work in Switzerland?

I have entered Switzerland by car twice - once from Italy near Lugano without being stopped, and the other time near Geneva, where they wanted 40 eu as a road tax for driving on Swiss roads. Is this only a Geneva thing? If I enter Switzerland from the north, near Basel is there a fee there? Is there an exit fee if you leave from Geneva into France?

Posted by
17881 posts

The fee, as I understand it, is for the vignette that must be stuck (permanently) onto your windshield. It's for use of highways in Switzerland, and I believe it's good for a year. If you were just driving around on local roads, you wouldn't need it. I have no idea how hard it would be to find a road crossing the border that was not a highway and didn't require the vignette.

Posted by
2827 posts

Any car using the Swiss highway system (whether is has Swiss or non-Swiss plates) must have a calendar-year sticker on the windshield. If you drove to Lugano through the regular highway from Chiasso, and didn't have a sticker, you drove in violation of Swiss traffic law and could still be fined if cameras on gantries caught you and didn't locate a sticker (there is manual confirmation before a fine is issued that the windshield was sticker-less).

You also risked heavy fines if caught without sticker.

The sticker can be bought at the border or on gas stations or services areas of neighboring countries just before the border.

Posted by
748 posts

The Swiss vignette is for driving on the Swiss motorways or autobahns, you do no need it to drive on secondary highways. The problem is that a great many of the Swiss motorways are nice two-lane highways that look like good secondary roads. It would be very easy to make the mistake and considering the difference between the cost of the vignette and the fine for getting caught on the wrong road without one my recommendation is just smile and pay the money. Also follow the instructions on where to put it on the windshield, that is part of the law.

Building roads in Switzerland is a difficult and expensive process and their roads are excellent, especially compared to some of the crap we drive on here, so I have always been willing to pay for the use of them.

It's just like the Austrian vignette system except you can't buy a 10 day sticker, you have to pay for the whole year

Posted by
1062 posts

Hi RailRider. Some good info in the responses so far. To answer your specific questions:
- There are hundreds of places to drive into Switzerland from other countries; but only some of the main entry points have a manned checkpoint where your car is checked for a sticker, and you are required to buy one if needed.

- As was mentioned by other posters, you need a sticker only if you are driving on major roads. But it would be an odd scenario to be in Switzerland and not drive on major roads.

- There is no Swiss sticker check or fee when leaving Switzerland.
Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
544 posts

Here's a tip: If you are renting a car from outside Switzerland, but nearby (like we did from Basel Airport, which is actually in France), make sure your rental car has the Swiss vignette on it. If not, you will have to pay the EUR 40, and (hopefully) your car rental company will reimburse you.

Posted by
17881 posts

I'd be very surprised if a car-rental company in France, Germany, etc., reimbursed a renter who bought a Swiss vignette.

Posted by
8889 posts

It's not a "road fee", it is a toll for driving on Autobahns.
Instead of the toll being applies by distance (per Km), it is by time, CHF 40 for one calendar year (NOT € 40).
You buy a "Vignette" for CHF 40, which is a ticket you put in the windscreen, that car is then legal on Autobahns for the whole year.

You don't need to buy one, as long as you keep off Autobahns. When you crossed from Italy, you must have been on a normal road. At Geneva you must have been on an Autoroute/Autobahn. The fee is nothing to do with crossing the border, you still need to pay it to drive on an Autobahn even if the car never crosses the border.
This map shows which roads require a Vignette (in red): https://www.autobahnen.ch/images/vignette_required.jpg

At Basel, again it depends which road you cross the border on, if it is not an Autobahn, and you keep off Autobahns, no Vignette needed. Or you could be lucky and the car already has a Vignette on it from a previous trip.

Some other countries have a similar system, for example Austria. France and Italy use conventional "per Km" tolls

Posted by
31185 posts

Austria also requires a Highway Tax Vignette, and the fines for not having one can be hefty, and are collected on the spot. According to this website, there may also be additional charges for certain highway sections - https://www.tolls.eu/austria .

You may want to read the "Penalties" section of this website before driving in Austria, as the fines can be severe - https://www.german-way.com/travel-and-tourism/driving-in-europe/driving/autobahn/driving-on-the-autobahn/autobahn-tolls-in-austria-and-switzerland/ .

Posted by
82 posts

Thank you. I was using a rental car from Milan and drove up to Luzern. Perhaps it has the sticker.

Thanks for the tips. I guess when I rent a car in France, Germany, or Italy, I should ask if their car has that Swiss sticker. I would assume that if you rent a car in Switzerland or Austria and never leave the country, that you would have the proper stickers.

40 eu is quite reasonable if you were driving often during a year. I thought it was a bit steep just for a single day in Geneva however.

Posted by
7201 posts

If you rent the car in Switzerland it will have the vignette.

Posted by
8889 posts

I would assume that if you rent a car in Switzerland or Austria and never leave the country, that you would have the proper stickers.

Yes, All Swiss rental cars already have the Vignette on them

40 eu is quite reasonable if you were driving often during a year.

It's not € 40, the Swiss Vignette costs CHF 40. They use Swiss Franks in Switzerland, not Euros!