License plate (Switzerland)
Swiss license plates consist of a two-digit alphabetical canton abbreviation and a number of up to six digits. The rear license plate also shows the Swiss coat of arms and the respective cantonal coat of arms . The rear number plates can be requested either in long or portrait format.
The signs are assigned to the owner and not to the vehicle. Upon request, they can also be used as exchangeable signs for a maximum of two vehicles. If the owner changes vehicle, the same license plate is attached to the new vehicle after the change of registration. If the owner no longer registers a new vehicle, he returns the license plate to the issuing authority . Depending on the canton, it remains reserved for the previous owner for a certain period of time.
- In 1894, the canton of Basel-Stadt stipulated that bike license plates must also be attached to motor vehicles.
- In 1901, the Canton of Lucerne issued license plates for motor vehicles.
- In 1902 the Canton of Zurich decreed that motor vehicles must have a license plate on the front and back.
- In 1905 the cantons decided to distribute numbers according to the scheme below. The signs were black with white writing.
- In 1911 the assigned numbers were partially used up, so a letter was added as a suffix .
- In 1922, some cantons began to have the signs produced in white with black letters because they are less sensitive to dirt.
In 1933, the number blocks assigned, including the suffixes, were soon used up and the license plates that are still valid today were introduced. The front license plates were initially 38 × 11 cm, and since 1972 they have had the current format (30 × 8 cm). The rear license plates were only available in portrait format (31 × 24 cm) until 1959. From 1959, the rear license plates were also given in long format on request. These were initially 44 × 11 cm, later 38 × 11 cm. Since 1987 they have had the current format (50 × 11 cm). The upright rear license plates have been around since 1972 in their current form (30 × 16 cm).
Motor vehicles must have a front and a rear license plate made of sheet aluminum. Exceptions are trailers, motorcycles and small motorcycles, snowmobiles, small and light motor vehicles as well as agricultural vehicles and single-axle motor vehicles. They all have only one rear license plate (with the exception of agricultural vehicles, these generally only have one front plate, which can be attached either to the front or the rear of the vehicle).
Returned license plates are put back into circulation in some cantons after a reasonable period of time. In other cantons, such as Geneva, new consecutive numbers are always assigned. Some cantons allow custom license plates outside of serial numbers. In some cantons five- or multi-digit numbers can be traded, while one to four-digit numbers can only be inherited.
In recent years, many cantons have started selling returned license plates with particularly low numbers (one to four digits) or with particularly memorable numbers (e.g. 100,000 or 22,333) for certain increased fees or to the highest bidder. Many cantons provide corresponding internet portals for this purpose. In the canton of St. Gallen, for example, the city of St. Gallen's fire brigade had to return the numbers “SG 1” to “SG 20” so that they could be auctioned off to the highest bidder . “SG 1” was auctioned for 135,000 francs. The auction serves to improve the canton's financial budget. In 2017, an entrepreneur from Valais bought the number VS 1 for 160,100 francs as a “protest” against the canton.
If the owner changes vehicle, the same license plate is attached to the new vehicle after the change of registration, so it is also possible to purchase a new vehicle and move it immediately with your own license plates (if the insurance company has been informed in advance by telephone). The vehicle registration document for the new and the old vehicle is then sent by post to the relevant road traffic office and the owner receives the new papers by post after a few days. During the transition period, the new vehicle can drive without official papers, but a special document must be carried with you (available free of charge on the Internet), which must be presented at any police check. However, this procedure is only permitted in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Driving in other countries is not recommended as long as there are no papers for the car.
Background colors and formats
|Colours||Vehicle type / use||Format in front||Rear format|
|Motor vehicles and trailers||300 × 80 mm||500 × 110 mm
300 × 160 mm
|Work vehicles||300 × 80 mm||500 × 110 mm
300 × 160 mm
|Exceptional vehicles||300 × 80 mm||500 × 110 mm
300 × 160 mm
|Agricultural vehicles||300 × 80 mm|
|Motorcycles, small and three-wheeled vehicles||180 × 140 mm|
|Small motorcycles and light motor vehicles||180 × 140 mm|
|Motorcycles ( mopeds ), e-bikes over 25 km / h and motorized wheelchairs over 20 km / h||100 × 140 mm|
|Segway vehicles||100 × 140 mm|
|Military vehicles||300 × 80 mm||500 × 110 mm
300 × 160 mm
The license plates for car dealers (colloquially “garage numbers” , “U numbers” ) are only available to registered car dealers and repair shops. These numbers can be used briefly for all motor vehicles for inspection trips and transfer trips, regardless of their engine performance and emissions. The use of the motorway without a motorway vignette is also permitted for vehicles that are suitable for the motorway, but not driving abroad (not even to neighboring countries), as they do not have to be recognized due to the Vienna Convention . The Vienna Convention only requires the recognition of license plates that have been officially assigned to a vehicle. However, garage numbers are not assigned to a vehicle by the authority, but by the garage owner; he is responsible for the vehicle's fitness to drive (since such a vehicle must be roadworthy, but not mandatory). In addition to affixing them to the regular license plate holders of the vehicles, it is also permissible to place these "U numbers" on the bonnet and at the rear, e.g. B. attached under the rear window or in a plastic bag to attach. "U numbers" were introduced in 1977. From 1933 to 1976, dealer signs had the same format as normal signs (without the "U"), but with red letters on a white background.
Temporary license plates
Since 1960 there have also been temporary signs and customs signs. Temporary signs apply to duty-paid vehicles, which for whatever reason are only temporarily redeemed in the canton where they are located at the relevant road traffic office. In addition to the number, they have an elongated red sticker on which the two-digit expiry year is printed several times in small letters, and above it the expiry month is clearly visible.
Customs license plates
Customs plates are for vehicles that have not been cleared and are temporarily stationed in Switzerland. They are designed like temporary signs, with a "Z" printed in black to the right of the red bar. The numbering of customs signs and temporary signs is treated differently by the individual cantons. There are cantons with arbitrary number series, which are often identical to the number series of the "normal" signs. In other cantons, shield number 1 starts again at the end of a calendar year.
Special series of numbers
- Canton of Graubünden : license plates of the series GR 90 001 - GR 94 999 are reserved for the residents of the political municipality of Samnaun ( Lower Engadine ) for all motor vehicle categories. Samnaun is a duty-free area and the motor vehicles bought there do not have to be cleared either in Switzerland or in Austria near the border. The special numbering of the plates indicates to the customs authorities that the vehicle is not cleared. If such a car is later sold outside Samnaun (but in Switzerland), it must be cleared by the new owner. In contrast to the rest of Switzerland, the Samnauners do not receive a temporary customs license plate with a red bar and the letter "Z" for their duty-unpaid vehicles, but a normal cantonal plate with a special series of numbers.
- Canton of Geneva : Motor vehicles of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, which are not cleared in Switzerland and are only used abroad for the ICRC, have Swiss motor vehicle license plates of the number series GE 901 000 - GE 949 999. ICRC vehicles that are customs cleared in Switzerland and are in use at the ICRC headquarters in Geneva have Swiss diplomatic plates with the code 026.
- Canton of Zurich : The numbers from ZH 796 000 - ZH 800 999 are reserved license plate numbers. The numbers from ZH 801 000 - ZH 859 999 are reserved for trailers. The sign circle ZH 860 000 - ZH 869 999 is used for day signs.
- Rental vehicles : Because the Road Traffic Office in Appenzell Innerrhoden charges very cheap traffic fees, car rental companies in Switzerland have their vehicles registered in this canton or in the equally inexpensive canton of Vaud (VD). The other cantons waive the license plate fee for rental cars, but are compensated proportionally for the tax loss. AI license plates with numbers from 20,000 are used by the car rental company AVIS , Hertz uses numbers from 30,000 , Europcar uses numbers from 40,000 or 50,000 , and Sixt uses numbers from 66,000 . The real Innerrhoder road users can be identified by license plates with low numbers to about 15,500 . Rental cars with VD license plates have numbers from 513,000 to 518,000 .
Avis : AI 20··· AI 21··· AI 22··· AI 23··· Hertz : AI 30··· AI 31··· AI 32··· AI 33··· AI 34··· Europcar : AI 40··· AI 41··· AI 50··· AI 51··· AI 52··· AI 53··· AI 54··· Sixt : AI 66··· AI 67··· AI 68··· AI 69··· AI 70···
The highest numbers from the current series, without the special number series and desired numbers listed above:
|AI||23 896||34 969||54 613||70 470|
|date||1/26/20 ||4/26/20 ||1/12/20 ||1/24/20 |
Diplomatic license plates
Vehicles belonging to members of the diplomatic and consular corps and some international organizations have a license plate issued by the canton where the embassy or consulate is located . It shows two letters “CD” ( French : Corps Diplomatique), “CC” ( French : Corps Consulaire) or “AT” ( French : Personnel administratif et technique), followed by the canton abbreviation and two numbers separated by a point. The first number is a serial number within the mission or organization, with the digits from 1 to 5 being assigned to the boss for company or private vehicles. The number after the point is a code for the international organization or the country of origin of the diplomatic mission. The front plates are the same size as the rear plates (500 × 110 mm).
- Official car of the diplomatic missions in Bern
- Private vehicles of the diplomatic staff of these missions
- Official car of the consular posts managed by a professional officer
- Consular officers' private vehicles
- Separate additional symbol “CC” for a maximum of one car for each honorary post chief of a consular post to which the Federal Council has issued the exequatur . In these cases, the vehicle registration document bears the note “CC mark approved”.
- Official vehicles of permanent missions or other representations in intergovernmental organizations as well as motor vehicles of the members of the diplomatic staff of these missions
- Official vehicles of institutional beneficiaries such as intergovernmental organizations, international institutions, secretariats or other bodies set up by an international treaty, independent commissions, international courts of law, arbitration tribunals and other international bodies that enjoy privileges, immunities and facilities.
- Private vehicles of the highest-ranking officials of these institutional beneficiaries who enjoy diplomatic status in Switzerland.
- Private vehicles of the administrative and technical staff of the diplomatic missions
- The serial numbers each start with 51
3 × × - International disarmament talks (× × = country code, e.g. 309 = USA)
Military vehicles (vehicles of the army and administrative vehicles of the defense department), vehicles of the border guard , the customs investigation authorities, armasuisse and the federal intelligence service are registered by the Road Traffic and Shipping Office of the Army (SVSAA) with military control plates (Art. 28 Para. 1 VFBF) .
Military license plates show the Swiss coat of arms followed by an "M" (abbreviation for "Militaire") and the number in white letters on a black background. From 1925 to 1961, all military license plates were two-line, with the Swiss coat of arms and the "M" in red on top and the number on the bottom. Since 1961 there have been single-line front plates and the "M" in white. The current format was introduced in 1973.
The M numbers are assigned according to vehicle type and procurement tranche and are consecutive in the procurement series, e.g. B. Pz 87 ( Leopard 2 ):
- 1st series: 35 pieces: M77101 to M77135
- 2nd series: 120 pieces: M77136 to M77255
- 3rd series: 225 pieces: M77256 to M77480
- Relaxation tank 65: 69 pieces: M78631 to M78699
In the case of prototypes , the number 0 is used first after the M, both for vehicles that are included in the Swiss Army (e.g. prototype relaxation tank 65 : M0870) and for vehicles that are not mass-produced ( e.g. 35 mm Flab Panzer B22L : M0888 and M0889 or the Panzerkanone 68: M0871, M0872, M0898, M0899). The shield looks similar to the Liechtenstein license plate, but it bears the princely coat of arms and the abbreviation "FL".
In many cantons, the register of license plates can be viewed by the public, in some cases via online owner inquiries on the Internet, unless the owner has requested a corresponding information block. In addition, new books with a list of license plates and the corresponding holder can be purchased every year.
License plate types that are no longer used
- From 1977 to 2000 rental vehicles had license plates with the letter “V” (rental) to the right of the number. Since 2001, just like before 1977, rental vehicles have had normal cantonal vehicle signs again. Most of the car rental companies in Switzerland have their vehicles registered in the tax-efficient canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden or in the equally inexpensive canton of Vaud (VD). All other cantons waive the license plate fee for rental cars, but are compensated proportionally for the tax loss.
- Federal civil vehicles used to have the Swiss coat of arms followed by an "A" (abbreviation for "Administration") and the number with black characters on a white background. They also did not have a cantonal coat of arms. The first digit of the five-digit number stood for the department to which the vehicle belonged. These license plates are no longer used. The offices are now receiving normal canton's license plates. The only exceptions are the Defense and armasuisse areas within the DDPS, which use the army numbers with the Swiss coat of arms and a white "M" on a black background.
- Post, telegraph and telephone (PTT) and the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) were part of the federal administration until 1997/98, their vehicles bore the Swiss coat of arms followed by a “P” (abbreviation for “Post”) and the number with black characters on white , yellow or blue background. The Post and SBB remained after independence entirely in federal ownership and could the P-signs for the time being continue to use, however, had the vehicles of Telecom's range, from 1 January 1998 to partially privatized Swisscom belonged, immediately switch to cantonal license plates.
|P • 1xxxx to P • 7xxxx||Swiss Post|
|P • 8xxxx to P • 9xxxx||Swiss Federal Railways|
All Post and Federal Railways vehicles had been converted to normal cantonal signs by December 31, 2003. The road traffic office of the canton in which the respective department is based is responsible for the issue.
- Systematic collection of laws: Ordinance on the admission of persons and vehicles to road traffic (VZV) (legal basis, Art. 82-87a VZV)
- morger.net: Vehicle license plates in Switzerland (history etc.)
- linker.ch: Autoindex (collection of links to determine the vehicle owner based on the license plate number)
- Interest group for Swiss license plates
- Road Traffic Act (SVG) (PDF; 365 kB)
- Vehicle license plates in Switzerland . morger.net. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
- Canton of St. Gallen: General terms and conditions for auctioning license plates on the Internet ( Memento of the original from August 25, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , October 1, 2013, accessed August 25, 2016
- Art. 8bis of VIII. Addendum to the Introductory Ordinance to the Federal Road Traffic Act of the Canton of St. Gallen
- Tages-Anzeiger: 2.6 million profit thanks to lower car numbers , accessed on February 23, 2013
- 20 minutes: «He auctioned« VS 1 »only out of protest», http://www.20min.ch/schweiz/romandie/story/Er-ersteigerte--VS-1--nur-aus-Protest-10185129 ( accessed on March 16, 2017)