Highways in Switzerland / Vignettes, toll roads and tolls

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Motorways in Switzerland are of high quality and have one of the densest networks in the world. Virtually every inhabitant of this country lives no more than 10 kilometers from expressways. Swiss highways can be divided into national roads and those passing through individual cantons.

The first ones are paid for travel, while the latter are not.

The toll system in Switzerland dates back to 1985 and is based on vignettes. Unfortunately, with the increase in the exchange rate of the Swiss franc from year to year, the fee for using expressways in this country is more and more expensive for foreigners. The Swiss appreciate simple solutions in every area of ​​life. Also the one related to vignettes, so instead of a few tariffs to choose from, in Switzerland there is only one – annual one.

However, the case only concerns vehicles up to 3.5 tons. Heavy goods vehicles have a different toll system, also based on vignettes, but for this additional taxes and charges are introduced. It all comes down to the Swiss transport policy in their area. Quite high fees for delivery trucks and lorries are, in a way, to deter and limit transit traffic in favor of railways. On the other hand, cars that decide to drive through Switzerland anyway pay sufficiently high fees for environmental damage.

Highways in Switzerland / Highways, tolls and vignettes in Switzerland
Highways in Switzerland / Highways, tolls and vignettes in Switzerland

Highways in Switzerland

Highways in Switzerland are marked with the traditional symbol of a two-lane road on a green background. In addition, if a given town is listed on a green board (signpost), it means that access to it is via the highway. However, if it is blue, it means that we will reach our destination by free roads inside the cantons.

Interestingly, the numbering of motorways also includes expressways. In turn, their symbol is a white car painted on a green background.

See also motorways in Germany.

In Switzerland, we have the following highways, traditionally marked with a capital A and the appropriate number:

– A1 is one of the two main highways in Switzerland. Connects St. Gallen with the French border lead through the largest Swiss cities of Zurich, Bern, Lausanne and Geneva.

– A2 is the second of the main Swiss highways. It runs from the north to the south of this country, from the border with Germany in Basel to the Italian border in Chiasso. It runs, inter alia, through Lucerne, along Lake Lucerne, up to the alpine mountain ranges.

– A3 leads from Basel (from the French border this time) to Sargans (near the border with Liechtenstein).

– A4 connects the commune of Bargen (on the German border) with Altdorf.

– The A5 runs through the municipality of Luterbach to the spa town of Yverdon-les-Bains

– The A6 leads from the Municipality of Lyss to the Municipality of Wimmis. By the way, it is also part of the European expressway E27.

– The A7 connects Kreuzlingen on the German border with Winterthur.

– The A8 leads from the commune of Hergiswil all the way to Spiez.

– The A9 runs from the French border in Vallorbe to the municipality of Gondo on the Italian border.

– The A10 runs from the municipality of Muri bei Bern to Rüfenacht, on the outskirts of Bern.

– A11 is the link between Zurich and its airport.

– The A12 goes from Bern to Vevey, home to the famous Nestle headquarters.

– A13 is one of the most important transalpine highways, which crosses Switzerland longitudinally. It is considered a very attractive scenic and landscape motorway. It runs from the Austrian border at St. Margrethen to Bellinzon.

– The A14 leads from Lucerne to Cham.

– The A16 connects the municipality of Boncourt on the French border with Biel, also known as Bienne. The motorway is nicknamed Transjurane due to the fact that it crosses the Jura mountain range.

– The A18 is another motorway that starts in Basel and leads to the municipality of Reinach.

– The A19 runs from Brig to the Naters commune.

– The A20 leads from Zurich to the North Ring.

– The A21 connects the Great St. Bernard Pass with the St. Bernard Tunnel (link of the Swiss and Italian borders leading under the Alps).

– The A28 runs from the municipality of Landquart to Klosters.

– The A50 is a section within the municipality of Glattfelden.

– The A51 leads from Bülach to the north of Zurich.

– The A52 connects Zumikon with Hinwil.

– The A53 leads from Kloten to Reichenburg.

Vignettes in Switzerland / Where to buy? What price? Road tolls and prices / Source: Wikipedia
Vignettes in Switzerland / Where to buy? What price? Road tolls and prices / Source: Wikipedia

Vignettes in Switzerland

It is worth noting at the beginning that the purchase of a vignette in Switzerland is not obligatory. You can travel in this country on completely free roads. It will not be so easy, fast and comfortable, but it is possible. For example, if we only travel from Austria to Italy using route 27, we do not need to buy a vignette. It will definitely be useful when we want to visit Switzerland itself or we are going to France. Then the purchase of a vignette is a reasonable option.

See also highways in Austria.

As already mentioned, in Switzerland the toll system has been simplified to a minimum. There is only one yearly vignette available for purchase. Of course, people who only want to cross this country and their journey through Swiss territories is not too long find it a loss.

The Switzerland vignette itself has a minimalist look. This is a small colored sticker that must be placed on the windshield of your vehicle. The entire system covers mainly passenger cars up to 3.5 tons, as well as motorcycles. However, owners of caravans are forced to purchase a separate vignette.

Road tolls – vignette price in Switzerland

The price of an annual vignette in Switzerland has not changed over the years and is equal to 40 Swiss francs (37 euros).

The vignette purchased in 2020 will be valid until the end of January 2021. In Switzerland, annual vignettes are valid for 13 or even 14 months, depending on when you buy them. For example, regardless of whether we buy a vignette in January, March or August 2020, it will be valid until the end of January 2021. However, if we bought it in December 2019, it will be valid for 14 months. You just have to remember that vignettes for the next year are sold no faster than on December 1 of the current calendar year.

In Switzerland, vignettes can be purchased at petrol stations, official points of sale and at the post office. However, the easiest and, according to the reports of people traveling to Switzerland, the cheapest option is to buy a vignette at the border. You just need to stand at the appropriate gate for people who do not have vignettes. When it comes to the payment itself, this is where we will pay for it, not only in Swiss francs, but also in euros or British pounds. Payment cards are also accepted – debit and credit cards.

Before entering the motorway, the purchased vignette must be affixed to the windshield of our vehicle. It can be the upper or lower left corner, or the place behind the mirror. The sticker should be visible from the outside and, importantly, it cannot be re-applied to another car. Motorcycle owners must affix the vignette to the inside lower part of the windscreen or any other visible part of the machine that cannot be replaced.

The penalty for not having a vignette in Switzerland is quite severe at 200 Swiss Francs. In addition, we are forced to purchase it immediately. It is worth bearing this in mind, as the police in Switzerland carry out frequent checks on highways. The same penalty (200 CHF) will be imposed if we put the vignette in the wrong or invisible place in our car.

Highways in Switzerland and vignettes / Highways and tolls.
Highways in Switzerland and vignettes / Highways and tolls.

What else is worth knowing about highways and expressways in Switzerland?

Driving on highways and expressways in Switzerland is extremely comfortable. Even the slightly more winding routes located in high mountain areas are safe and can be easily avoided using railway platforms, transporting cars through tunnels. When traveling on Swiss roads, it is worth remembering that pedestrians have absolute priority here.

As for the speed limit on highways and roads in Switzerland:

  • we do not drive more than 120 km / h on motorways
  • on expressways we accelerate to a maximum of 100 km / h
  • we drive up to 80 km / h on national roads
  • if we travel with a trailer, we can reach the maximum speed of 80 km / h
  • while in built-up areas we do not exceed 50 km / h

In Switzerland, seat belts must always be fastened and the dipped headlights must be on all year round. There must be a warning triangle in the car, and even two when towing a trailer. However, the first aid kit or fire extinguisher are only recommended equipment. The permissible amount of alcohol in the blood of a driver in Switzerland is 0.5 per mille. The use of anti-radar devices is strictly forbidden and punishable by a fine of up to 1,000 Swiss francs. It is also better not to stay overnight in highway car parks and in places where it is not allowed.

See also highways in France.

Children under the age of seven must travel in child seats appropriate for their age and height. You must not talk on the phone while driving. Unless we have a hands-free kit. Winter tires are obligatory in winter, and snow chains may also be useful in mountainous regions. The alpine passes are open roughly from June to October, depending on weather conditions. Some mountain villages are completely pedestrianized. Then you should leave your car in the parking lot.

Important telephone numbers in Switzerland

  •      117 police
  •      118 fire department
  •      144 ambulance service
  •      1414 helicopter emergency
  •      140 roadside assistance

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