Car import and re-registration

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Car import Switzerland: exhaust maintenance, Swiss driver's license and vehicle registration

Import of the car into Switzerland and treatment as removal goods

If you want to bring your car from your home country and drive in Switzerland, there are a few things you should consider. If you can prove that you have owned the vehicle for at least 6 months, you can and should declare it as a removal item when you move.. With the confirmation you get from customs, you have one year to declare the car, otherwise it has to be imported and customs cleared. By importing the car as removal goods, there is no taxation, as this counts as your own belongings. If possible, the car should be re-registered at the same time as the driving licence.

Change of registration and vehicle inspection

For the re-registration of the car, one gets an invitation to the vehicle inspection. The vehicle inspection is also known in Switzerland as MFK. This invitation also says that the vehicle should be presented cleaned and is meant to be cleaned and no joke. It is best to have the underbody and the engine compartment thoroughly cleaned before the inspection. Since the inspectors look at everything carefully, they expect a cleaned vehicle without fail. The interior is not so important. The inspection is a bit stricter than the normal inspection at MFK. Since the car is being registered for Swiss road traffic for the first time, the inspector understandably takes a closer look. After the examination you will either get a list of defects to be corrected or, if everything is fine, the new license plates. The vehicle should be in good condition for the inspection.

Important documents for re-registration:

  • Customs documents
    • For new cars inspection report form 13.20A
    • For removal goods Form 18.44 (for most of them the case)
    • For equipment goods Form 18.45, inheritance goods Form 18.46
    • Or form 15.30 / 15.40 for duty unpaid vehicles
  • VAT receipt for direct imports with recipient address (not necessary for removal goods)
  • EEC certificate of conformity (COC document)
  • Proof of insurance from a Swiss car insurance company
  • Exhaust document with exhaust maintenance performed by a brand representative (Not applicable for vehicles with OBD and good emission standards. More details under the point exhaust maintenance)
  • Foreigner's identity card (Ausländerausweis)
  • Original Vehicle registration document
  • Original vehicle title    

License plate

For the new license plates you usually need new license plate holders, because the formats are often different in Switzerland. You can get them in every well sorted garage (workshop). With Swiss license plates, the two letters at the beginning stand for the canton where the vehicle is registered and the following number is consecutive. In other words, normally the numbers get bigger and bigger over the years. There are also desired number plates, but they are not available for small money. The lower or more popular the number the more expensive. This can be from a few hundred francs up to several thousand francs. If this is important to you, you can find out the price from the road traffic office. The number plate belongs to you and not to the car. Therefore, if you sell the car, you can keep the license plate number and use it for the new purchase.

MFK - Official inspection

All vehicles in Switzerland are subject to an official inspection (MFK). You will be invited to this as when you register your vehicle. So you do not need to think about the date yourself. The vehicle must also be presented cleaned (underbody and engine compartment). If only minor defects are found, there is no need for a new demonstration; the signature of the workshop that has repaired the defect is sufficient as proof. Only in the case of serious defects does the vehicle have to be presented again. The first official inspection is carried out 4 years after the first placing on the market, the second inspection is carried out 3 years later and then the inspection is carried out every 2 years.

Exhaust gas maintenance

For the official inspection, exhaust gas maintenance every two years is no longer required for vehicles with on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems since 01.01.2013. The prerequisite is that an emission code B03 or better is noted in the vehicle registration document for petrol vehicles and B04 or better for diesel vehicles. It is therefore essential to check the vehicle registration document after the transfer. However, the new regulation also requires that, after the indicator light of the on-board diagnosis system lights up for the first time, the vehicle must be driven to the workshop for repair within one month. Likewise, maintenance by the garage according to the manufacturer's specifications is still necessary. Vehicles without a diagnostic system must still be serviced every 2 years and vehicles without a catalytic converter every year.

Speed limits

The speed limit in Switzerland should be adhered to as far as possible. Lightning is a common sight. When measuring speed, a tolerance of only 3 - 5 km/h is usually deducted. For example, exceeding the speed limit of only 1-5 km/h costs CHF 40 (half the cost on the motorway), doesn't sound like much, but it can add up quite a bit. In general, the traffic rules in Switzerland are similar, but there are a few important differences. You should definitely learn them beforehand.

Vehicle registration document and vehicle title

For vehicles registered in Switzerland, the vehicle registration document and the exhaust gas maintenance certificate must be carried along and presented if required. Switzerland does not have a separate vehicle title and vehicle registration document, which separate the owner and driver, there is only the vehicle registration document. 

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