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Old 17.08.2006, 11:00
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Fact Sheet #1 - Car Registration and Number Plates

This is the first in a series of Fact Sheet Posts I am starting. They are by no means complete, and all members are encouraged to add, correct or update the post.


*Vehicle Registration and Driver Licencing is the responsibility of the respective Cantonal Traffic Authority (Strassenverkehrsamt or STVA).

*Registered vehicles require 5 components to be driven on the street:
  • A valid Registration certificate issued by the STVA (Fahrzeugausweis)
  • A valid insurance policy obtained from an Insurance Company (Versicherungsnachwies)
  • A set of number plates issued by the STVA
  • Current roadworthiness (MFK - Renewable at invitation of the STVA)
  • Current emission control (Abgas Prüfung - renewable every 2 years)
*Registration is based on calendar year. New or cancelled registration and insurance is payable/refundable pro-rata. If you cancel the registration the number plates MUST be returned to the STVA or registered to your next car.

*When stopped by the police you will be required to produce your Registration certificate along with your drivers licence.

*Be careful when applying for insurance. Best is a 1-year policy, but many agents will try to get you to sign 3,5 even 10 year contracts. A contract can be terminated early if you dispose of the car or the premium goes up.

*The relationship between insurance and numberplates cannot be understated. Never even think of driving a vehicle WITHOUT the correct number plates, or dealer plates (see further down).

*As number plates are the critical feature, you can register two cars under same set of number plates (Wechselschild). However you cannot drive these two cars at the same time. This option is normally taken by people who lets say, drive a work van during the week, and then a normal car on weekends.

*Private and business car number plates (Kontrollschilder) are Canton specific. Each has the Swiss and cantonal shields, the two-letter canton prefix and the numeric registration number.

The front plate is smaller and comes in a single long-format. The rear plate can be ordered in long or squarish format.

*You will often see number plates ending in "-U". These plates are Dealer plates and are normally used for test drives, transporting unregistered cars, etc.

*Motor bikes with yellow number plates are under 50cc and are (supposedly) limited to 45km/h and not to be driven on motorways.

*Other plates of little relevance to most us:
  • Blue plates - Cranes, fire engines, etc - generally vehicles that make a nuisance of themselves
  • Brown plates - Vehicles with special construction or conditions
  • Green plate - Agricultural vehicles - no back plate so that they can drop cow manure everywhere and cause traffic delays without being identified.

*Depending on canton, the numeric value of your number plates can be valuable (ie the lower the number, or the more special the combination of numbers, the more valuable it is). For example, in ZH a numberplate in the 30000 range would be worth more than in Schaffhausen. Some STVAs have links to their own plate auctions.

STVA's can be found here: http://www.strassenverkehrsamt.ch/

Insurance is best compared here: http://www.comparis.ch
So sayeth the 'Speed
* I do look like my avatar

Last edited by litespeed; 17.08.2006 at 16:05.
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