Vehicle registration? The fast, uncomplicated way

Woman standing in front of her car and spreading her arms out

Vehicle registration? The fast, uncomplicated way

In Switzerland, liability insurance is mandatory for every motor vehicle on the road. Consequently, the responsible Road Traffic Office only issues the vehicle registration document and license plates once it has received the electronic insurance certificate (eIC). Our guide provides you with key information on registering your vehicle.

How do I register a car?

First, take out motor vehicle insurance. Initially, an oral or written commitment from your insurer without signature is sufficient. The insurance company then submits the electronic insurance certificate to the responsible Road Traffic Office. After this, you or your garage owner go to the Road Traffic Office with the original of the previous vehicle registration document or in the case of a new car with the inspection report. The latter then issues the license plates and the new vehicle registration document. It is often also possible to send the original vehicle registration document by mail to the Road Traffic Office. In this case, you will also receive the plates and new documents by mail. The best way of finding out whether the responsible Road Traffic Office offers this option is on its website.

You will need proof of customs clearance to register an imported vehicle. To register your vehicle with the cantonal Road Traffic Office, the customs office will issue an inspection report form 13.20 A. 

How much time do I have to register my vehicle?

The electronic insurance certificate is valid for 30 days from its date of issue. It serves as confirmation that the statutory liability cover exists. Contact your insurance company if you need more time to register the vehicle. It will provide the Road Traffic Office with an insurance certificate again.

When does the liability insurance take effect?

The insurance takes effect as soon as your car has been registered at the Road Traffic Office and you have the new vehicle registration document and license plates. You can find the precise insurance cover in your insurance contract.

How much does it cost to register my car?

The responsible Road Traffic Office invoices you for the costs. They are between CHF 20 and 50 for the license plates and about CHF 40 for the vehicle registration document. The costs vary by canton. Find out more about this at the Road Traffic Office of your residential canton. 

What documents do I need to register the motor vehicle?

You need the following documents: 

  • ID document: Swiss passport, ID card or foreigner's ID card 
  • Either the original of the vehicle registration document or the inspection (13.20 A) report in case of an imported vehicle
  • Electronic insurance certificate of your insurance company

How do I change my car insurance?

Do you want to change your insurance? First, find out about the notice period of your current motor vehicle insurance. What you need to know: In the event of a loss, you can cancel your insurance at any time. As soon as you have received confirmation of cancellation, request a new offer from the insurance company of your choice and conclude the motor vehicle insurance. The new insurance certificate is sent to the responsible Road Traffic Office. Then go to the Road Traffic Office with the original of your registration document or send it by mail. You will receive a current document with the new insurance company by return.

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