Driving For Members

'Clean the car' - What you need to know about Swiss vehicle inspection rules

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
'Clean the car' - What you need to know about Swiss vehicle inspection rules
Car inspection may find problems you never knew your vehicle had. Photo by Photo by Artem Podrez/ Pexels

If you have been living in Switzerland for more than a couple of years, you’ve probably gone through the vehicle inspection process. As one reader recently found out, there is more to it than many people realise.


The fact that the Swiss are safety-conscious and sticklers for rules and regulations is not a surprise to anyone living here. This attitude extends to car inspections as well.

Reader Anna de Cleene from Geneva found this out recently when she brought her nine-year-old vehicle for inspection. This was the first time she had done this in Switzerland so her learning curve was steep. “I had no idea what the process would entail”; she told The Local.

She had to pay 70 francs upfront, but then inspectors found the vehicle did not meet all the required safety standards.

As Anna explained it, “my vehicle failed for three reasons: there was a phone holder on the windscreen, the tax disc displayed was more than one year old, and the winter tyres were not the original car manufacturer’s”.

She had to get a “certificate of conformity”, for the tyres which cost 80 francs.

For people who have never had their vehicles inspected in Switzerland, “these are easy mistakes to make”, she said.

After everything was brought up to scratch, Anna had to take her car for a second inspection, for which she paid another 70 francs.


Car inspections at a glance

Like almost everything else in Switzerland, cantons, rather than federal authorities, set testing rules.

One thing they all have in common though is that cars must meet criteria for maintenance and safety.

Generally speaking, all motorised vehicles must be inspected four years after purchase, and then every three years up to the age of seven. After that, they must be tested every two years.

This is how it works

Your cantonal inspection office will send you an “invitation” (more like summons, actually) to bring your vehicle for inspection, suggesting day and time.

If that date is not convenient, you can reschedule, either online or by calling the traffic office.

The location of the inspection will be the one closest to your place of residence.

So far so good.

However, as Anna and many others have found out, sometimes just bringing your car in is not enough.

It may be a good idea, if you can afford it, to bring the car for pre-inspection to a garage  to service the vehicle and fix whatever is not up to par.

This is not cheap; prices vary from one garage and region to another, and depend on the condition and roadworthiness of your car, but will likely cost you several hundred francs.

The advantage is that you can be sure the car will be ready for inspection and will pass it quickly and easily. If some flaw is found regardless, then the garage, not you, will be responsible for fixing it.

An important thing to keep in mind is that your vehicle has to be totally clean inside and out, including the underside. If it is not squeaky clean, the inspector may refuse to test it.


What are the fines for failing to bring your car for inspection?

Again, this depends on the canton and the reason you do not show up at the inspection location on a date and time assigned to you. without cancelling the appointment first.

This official site provides useful information about inspections, including a link to all the cantonal traffic offices.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How visitors to Switzerland can avoid driving penalties



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