Vignettes & Road tolls in Switzerland (2024)
What you need to know about vignettes (stickers), e-vignettes (digital), violations and toll-free roads in Swiss Confederation
Imagine planning your road trip in Switzerland, ready to get lost for a few days amidst the country’s nature, beauty and luxury it has to offer. Before embarking on your new adventure, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the traffic regulations on Swiss roads. In this article, we will explore tolls, vignettes, fines and road fees, as well as where to stop during your journey and the must-visit destinations if you want to discover the true essence of Switzerland.
The Swiss Vignette – motorway pass sticker
Let’s start with the Swiss highway vignette, which is a mandatory pass you must have on your vehicle in order to travel on Swiss highways without incurring additional unexpected costs. It’s a one-time-use sticker that you’ll need to affix inside your car, and it’s essential for highway travel. It’s important to note that once applied to your vehicle, you cannot remove and transfer it to another car as it will lose its validity.
How much does a Swiss vignette cost?
The vignette costs a total of CHF 40.00 (CHF = Swiss franc), has a validity of 14 months, and starts on December 1st. You can purchase it at Swiss gas stations, post offices, and customs offices, or in countries like Italy at ACI offices. Typically, you’ll find vignette sales points just after crossing the border. If you have rented a car, motorcycle, or a vehicle weighing less than 3.5 tons, the vignette will suffice. However, if you are towing a trailer, unlike the laws in other countries like Austria, you will need to obtain a specific additional sticker for your trailer.
Buying Swiss vignette online – e-vignette
If you prefer to buy it online, you can get the electronic vignette, valid from August 1, 2023, on the following website:
- Visit the official Swiss e-vignette shop.
- Select the vehicle category and the country of registration.
- Enter the plate number and confirm it.
- Select “publicly viewable”. No private info is shared (only the plate number and e-vignette validity). This is optional.
- Click “add to cart”.
- Follow the payment process and you’re all set.
- You will receive a confirmation email with your vignette information
Driving without vignette in Switzerland
You can avoid paying the vignette fee by driving on cantonal roads, which are smaller, slower roads that are not subject to the vignette requirement. However, cantonal roads can be more scenic and can take longer to travel. Be aware of the signs that indicate the start and end of motorway sections. The start of a motorway section is marked by a blue sign with the motorway symbol and the number of the motorway. The end of a motorway section is marked by a green sign with the motorway symbol and the name of the next exit. If you are caught driving on a motorway without a vignette, you will be fined CHF 200.00 (approx. USD 220.00). If you are caught multiple times, you may be fined an additional CHF 100.00 (approx. USD 110.00) for each subsequent offense.
Exploring Switzerland by rental car
Starting from the north, e.g. Zurich, you have a few options. One of the best routes can be to make a detour to the north near the German border to visit the stunning Rhine Falls, a must-visit if you’re in the area. The falls are reachable in less than an hour via highways A1 and A4. If you want to avoid tolls, you can use Irchelstrasse and reach the falls in approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes. Then, back in Zurich, if you prefer the mountains, you can head down to St. Moritz. On this route, you can visit Lucerne by taking highways A4 and A14 in about 45 minutes. The city has a medieval feel, known for its charming old town and the breathtaking view of the lake. Need to stop and relax? There are some luxury accommodations like the recently renovated Park Hotel Vitznau, renowned for its elegance and stunning views of Lake Lucerne. As someone searches for a more authentic experience, it’s possible to avoid the highways. The distance doesn’t increase by much, just about 45 minutes, by taking Route 4 and Albistrasse, allowing you to enjoy the Swiss scenery.
Heading south, you’ll find one of the main attractions of the Swiss landscape. If you love driving, you absolutely can’t miss the San Gotthard Pass. Calling it a unique experience is an understatement. From Lucerne, taking highway A2, you’ll reach the beginning of the pass in just about 1 hour and 20 minutes, from where you can descend while admiring the enchanting and peaceful Swiss landscape. San Gotthard Pass is drivable, but if you’re into adventures, you can traverse the Tremola route by bicycle, with a preference for mountain bikes, to fully enjoy the scenery.
Want an even more authentic experience? For the romantics, there are the legendary San Gotthard stagecoaches, horse-drawn carriages that will transport you back in time and create unforgettable memories! As always, highways are not the only option. Avoiding tolls, the route to the beginning of the pass significantly extends to over two hours via Route 2 and Gotthardstrasse. However, you’ll get to enjoy the landscape more, passing along Lake Lucerne and other picturesque towns along the way.
From San Gotthard Pass, it takes about three hours via highway A13 to reach the final destination, loved by both skiers and those who simply want to relax at high altitudes: St. Moritz. It offers three high-level ski resorts (it has hosted two Winter Olympics, after all): Corviglia, Corvatsch and Diavolezza. The resorts will open their slopes on November 25, 2023, and prices may vary. If you’re not into skiing, you can spend your day at the beautiful spas in the city. Among the most well-known is the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel St. Moritz with a breathtaking view of the mountain panorama and all the amenities you’ll need, whether it’s winter or summer. Tennis courts, pools, saunas, and massage centers mean you won’t have a dull moment in this establishment. There are thousands of places to visit in Switzerland, but this is one of the most traveled options for tourists and adventure lovers.