Driving For Members

Reader question: Must I have a Swiss car insurance if I own a vehicle but don't drive it?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Reader question: Must I have a Swiss car insurance if I own a vehicle but don't drive it?
If you're on the road, it means you have to have insurance. Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

There are strict rules in Switzerland pertaining to operating motor vehicles. The requirement to have insurance is one of them.


It is illegal in Switzerland to drive without the third-party vehicle liability insurance, which covers damage caused to other drivers and their cars.

You are free to take out upgraded insurance coverage that also covers your own vehicle — as most people do — but the third-party one is the only one required by law. 

Whether you drive your car or it just sits in your garage or driveway is irrelevant, because every vehicle registered in Switzerland (as all cars must be) needs to have the third-party insurance — regardless of whether it is driven or not.

READ ALSO: What insurance is obligatory in Switzerland?

There are, however, some exceptions to this rule.

Say you are leaving Switzerland for an extended period of time. Or maybe your health temporarily prevents you from driving. Or perhaps your licence was suspended for traffic violations, and you have no right to drive until you get it back.

Whatever the reason, if you (or anyone else) will not be using the vehicle, you can let your insurance lapse — but only under certain conditions.

In such a case, you have the option of depositing your number plates.


What does this mean?

You can remove the front and back plates and deposit them at a vehicle licensing office in your canton of residence.

The office will notify your insurance company that you have turned in your plates and your car insurance will be put on hold.

You will not have to pay vehicle tax either for the period that your number plates are deposited.

READ ALSO: What costs do drivers face in Switzerland and where might you pay more?

Keep in mind though that once your car is stripped of its number plates and is no longer insured, you have no right to operate it, whether on public roads or even in your own driveway.

Interestingly enough, while driving without insurance is illegal, being on the road without number plates is not — at least under some circumstances.

For instance, if you lose your plates, or someone steals them and you report this to the police, you are allowed to drive until your new plates arrive.


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