Everything that changes in Switzerland in August 2023

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Everything that changes in Switzerland in August 2023
Happy birthday, Switzerland: The country celebrates its National Day on August 1st. Image by Kohji Asakawa from Pixabay

From a new, electronic motorway sticker, to a long list of international films — these are among the changes you can expect in Switzerland in August.


As summer is slowly winding down (but is not quite over yet), this is what you can look forward to in August in Switzerland:

August 1st: Swiss National Day 

As every year, the Swiss will celebrate their National Day on August 1st, marking 732 years since Switzerland as we know it was created. 

The date marks an important and defining moment in Switzerland’s history: August 1st 1291, when cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden pledged autonomy from foreign powers — the promise that has been holding true, and celebrated, ever since.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland celebrates its National Day on August 1st

Nighttime fireworks displays are part of the festivities, but be careful what you buy.

The Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (OFDF) issued a warning recently against buying  potentially dangerous fireworks that are banned in Switzerland.  
“Any violation of the federal legislation on explosives is reported to the competent authority,” OFDF said, adding that anyone who violates this law could be sentenced to up to three years of prison and be fined up to 20,000 francs.

READ ALSO: The rules around fireworks in Switzerland

August 1st: Electronic motorway sticker is launched

The obligatory motorway vignette that must be displayed on a car’s windshield will also be available in the digital form. 

The so-called e-vignette, which will be linked to the vehicle’s registration plate, can be purchased at any time on the website of the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security. 

Just like the self-adhesive paper version, the e-vignette will be valid from January 1st to December 31st of each year, and will continue to cost 40 francs.

Motorists have the option of choosing which type of sticker they prefer, as both will be valid.


August 2nd: Locarno Film Festival

The 2023 edition of Switzerland’s most famous international film festival will be held until August 12th in the Ticino city’s famous  Piazza Grande. 

The importance of this event for Switzerland’s cultural scene is such that open-air screenings are featured on the Swiss 20-franc banknote.

Many other events — whether cultural, sporting, or just general fun — are also taking place throughout Switzerland this year.

READ ALSO: 10 unmissable events in Switzerland in August 2023 

Summer holidays are over, it’s ‘back to school’ time

Depending on the canton of residence and school district, public schools are resuming between August 11th and August 27th. 

The next break kids in Switzerland will get will be a two-week autumn vacation in October.

Students head back to school in August. Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash


Expect chaos on roads and at airports

As holidaymakers return  home throughout August, traffic will be more chaotic, possibly causing delays and other disruptions.

If you are driving, be ready for long queues at entrances to frequently used transit points and tunnels, such as the Gotthard, where lines may exceed 10 km.

The Federal Roads Office as well as motoring organisation TCS  advise motorists to avoid certain motorways during heavy-travel periods.

These are usually the most congested roads in Switzerland:

  • The A3/A1 Basel-Zurich axis
  • The A3/A13 Zurich-Chur-San Bernardino-Bellinzona-Chiasso axis, particularly near Chur and the San Bernardino tunnel
  • The A9 Lausanne-Montreux-Martigny-Brigue mainly near Lausanne and Montreux
  • The Martigny - Grand-St.-Bernard tunnel axis
  • Bern and surroundings (A1/A12/A6 interchange)

You can avoid these bottlenecked routes by taking alternative roads, which may require a detour and are longer in terms on kilometres, but they are likely to get you to your destinations quicker.

If you are returning to Switzerland by air, expect a longer wait for your bags to be off-loaded, given the increased number of flights and a larger volume of luggage.

Your luggage may take a while to arrive. Photo: Pixabay

And speaking of travel…summer strikes in some countries may spill over to August.

Industrial action over wages, pension reform, and other issues has been going on all over Europe, with some walkouts planned for August as well.
You can check the situation at your destination here


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