Vehicle Roadworthiness in Switzerland

The compulsory roadworthiness test for your car or other motor vehicle in Switzerland: why, when, where and how to get it done...

Before a vehicle can be registered in Switzerland it has to undergo a technical inspection, which will be carried out by the Automobile Services of the canton it is to be registered in.

Each new car must also have a thorough test (examen) to check that it works properly before it can be driven out of the showroom.

Vehicles not yet approved in Switzerland must undergo extensive testing before they can obtain their registration documents.

Technical Inspection

All vehicles in Switzerland (cars, motorbikes, quad bikes and motorised tricycles) must have a technical inspection (contrôle technique) four years after they first go on the road, and then every three years thereafter to the age of seven.

All vehicles seven years and older must be tested every two years.

The technical inspection must be carried out by the cantonal Road Traffic Office (Service des Automobiles et de la Navigation) where the car is registered.

The Road Traffic Office will send written notice when a vehicle is due for inspection. Any requests for a change of date must be made without delay.

Sale of a used car

A technical inspection is mandatory when selling a used car over ten years old, if the last inspection took place over 12 months ago.

Documents needed for the contrôle technique

  • Vehicle registration documents
  • An up to date certificate (fiche d'entretien) proving that the emissions test has been carried out (see below).
  • Any certificates regarding modifications to the car's specifications making it non-standard including the addition of a tow bar or changing the wheel specifications.

Once a technical inspection has been passed, a roadworthiness stamp (issued by the inspector) must be attached to the inside of the windscreen. The driver of a vehicle that is not roadworthy will be fined.

Test

Vehicles are checked for - among other things - correct paperwork, fully operational lights, signal lamps and brakes, good wheel alignment and tracking, the condition of the chassis and engine noise and emissions.

Frequent reasons for failure include:

  • worn tyre tread
  • lights not all working
  • emissions too high
  • shock absorbers faulty/worn
  • faulty/worn brakes
  • wheel alignment faulty
  • some aspects of damaged bodywork, for example if a door cannot open
  • some aspects that could impair safety, including the condition of the mirrors, windscreen and wipers

Both the Automobile Club of Switzerland and the Touring Club of Switzerland (TCS) will inspect a car before it has the official contrôle technique by the Road Traffic Office.

  • Information from the TCS (in French)

Emissions Inspection

All vehicles should be emissions tested regularly (Contrôle antipollution). Responsibility for doing this falls to the vehicle owner - no reminders are sent by the canton.

The test needs to be carried out every two years for diesel cars and cars equipped with catalytic converters. All other cars should be tested annually.

It is recommended that the test be carried out during the regular (annual) car service. It can be done at a garage or at certain technical centres of the TCS. Failure to carry out the emissions test can lead to fines from CHF 20 to CHF 200.

The anti-pollution certificate (fiche d'entretien) issued by the testing station must be kept in the car at all times, and must be presented during the compulsory roadworthiness test (contrôle technique).

  • Information from the TCS (in French)