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Transport For Members

How much will I be fined for not having a train ticket in Switzerland?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
How much will I be fined for not having a train ticket in Switzerland?
There are several ways to save money on Swiss trains. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

As the increasing number of people in Switzerland travel on public transport without a ticket, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), along with other transport companies, want to target the dodgers by imposing heftier fines — especially on repeat offenders.

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If you take public transportation often and don’t have your half or full-fare Travelcard, then tickets can get quite expensive.

This could be the reason why people may choose to ride ticketless, hoping they fall through the cracks of random and sporadic checks.

But what happens if you get caught?

No matter what lame excuse you will concoct for not having your ticket, chances that the train inspector will take pity on you and wave the fine are slim to none. They have likely heard all the excuses made up by humankind already.

As Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is a national company, fines will be the same throughout the country.

According to their website, travelling without a valid ticket will cost you 90 francs (in addition to the price of the ticket) if this is your first offence — or at least the first time being caught. For the second and third offences the surcharges are 130 and 160 francs, respectively.

Right now, the penalties are 90 francs for the first offence, 130 for the second, and 160 for the subsequent ones.

However, the SwissPass Alliance, an umbrella organisation for 265 transport companies, is seeking to increase the chronic offender fine to 540 francs — enough to dissuade this practice once and for all.

But that’s not all.

Since 2019, people who travel on Switzerland's trains, trams and buses without a valid ticket have had their details placed in a national register, where they remain for two years.

And it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been caught on a national or regional mode of transport: fare evasion data is shared among all the operators in Switzerland. For instance, if you got caught traveling without a ticket on a SBB train, and then again on regional transport a few months later, this will be considered a repeat offence and a surcharge will apply.

READ MORE: Swiss pensioner fined 90 francs for buying train ticket one minute late

What about fare dodger fees on regional transport?

About 120 transport companies are currently operating throughout Switzerland.

No matter if you travel on a local train, bus, tram, or ferry, regional transport company will fine you for riding without a ticket and include your name in the digital database.

Though the amount of fine varies somewhat from one city to another, one rule remains the same: the more often you get caught, the higher the fine.

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These are the fines you will receive in Switzerland’s four largest cities on any mode of transport that is operating in that particular area:

Zurich

In addition to the price of ticket, you will have to pay 100 francs the first time you are caught without a valid ticket, 140 the second and 220 the third.

Geneva   

In addition to the price of ticket, you will be charged 100 francs for the first offence, 180 for the second and 210 for the third.

Basel

Fare-dodger rates here are the same as those charged by SBB:  90 francs, 130, 160, respectively.

Bern

Here you will pay 100 francs for the first offence, 140 for the second, and 170 for the third.

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Why you should never, ever travel without a ticket?

The most obvious answer is that this practice is illegal, and being a good citizen means obeying the law.

Secondly, ticket dodgers are responsible for substantial losses of earnings in the public transport system — losses which eventually are passed down to the public in the form of fare increases.

Can being included in the national register of fare evaders diminish your chances of getting Swiss citizenship?

There are no statistics available that show specifically whether being in the offender database impacts naturalisation.

But if you are a foreign national and are applying for naturalisation, travelling without a ticket — that is, knowingly breaking the law — does not bode well for you.

That is  because “respect for public safety, security and order” is one of the conditions of becoming a Swiss citizen.

And if you think this would be much too trivial to count, think again: Swiss municipalities had rejected naturalisation requests for lesser ‘offences’ — for instance, complaining about cow bells, or for wearing sweatpants in public.

READ MORE: Travel: This interactive map shows direct trains from every Swiss city

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