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All ready to travel by car

Finally, it’s summer holiday time again. Due to the current situation, holidaying by car in Switzerland or the surrounding countries would be a good choice. Different countries, different requirements: do you have all the necessary documents? Has your car been checked for possible faults? Here you will find some useful information for a carefree getaway.

13 July 2020, text: Mirjam Arnold, photo: Deposit

In the picture, you can see a boy sitting on a suitcase next to a car and laughing as he raises his arms in the air.
All ready for your holiday by car? Different countries, different requirements: find out the essentials before you go and enjoy a carefree getaway.

Your holiday by car starts as soon as you switch on the engine and drive off. To maximize the enjoyment and minimize the stress (apart from possible traffic jams), you should prepare accordingly before you go and take some organizational steps and safety precautions.

Preparing correctly

To avoid any unpleasant surprises on the road, you should review the condition of your vehicle before you go. To do so, you should check the following components and functions among others:

  • Tyres: tread depth, signs of wear, air pressure
  • Lights
  • Oil, brake fluid and coolant levels
  • Windscreen wipers: windscreen washer fluid level and clean wiper blades

Your vehicle should also have the standard equipment, consisting of a first aid kit, warning triangle and at least one high-visibility jacket per person. Secure your luggage before you go and find out about filling stations and rest areas along your planned route. 

Travelling abroad

CH stickers are mandatory on all motor vehicles being driven abroad. It is generally known that the United Kingdom and Ireland drive on the left. But did you know that you have to have a fire extinguisher in your car in Poland, for example, and a tow rope when driving through Serbia? Different countries – different laws: that applies both to speed limits on motorways and to alcohol limits or mandatory lights. Therefore, it is worth finding out about the guidelines on driving in countries you will pass through. TCS has put together an overview of the main rules in European countries (in German).

Several European cities and municipalities also require eco stickers. If you drive without these stickers, you may be fined. Different countries have different regulations governing emissions stickers and environmental zones. The stickers can mostly be ordered online or purchased at the last minute at filling stations.

International Insurance Card

The International Insurance Card («Green Card») proves that a vehicle is covered by third party insurance. There is no need for an International Insurance Card when entering countries with an agreement on registration plates (shaded light green in the following graphic). It is necessary to carry an International Insurance Card in other countries (shaded dark green).

The International Insurance Card can be requested directly from the insurer. If countries are excluded from the cover, the related abbreviations are crossed out. Also check the Card’s period of validity before starting your trip.                                                                                                                                                                    

Documents and insurance

If you are travelling by car in Switzerland, you must have your driving licence and vehicle registration document with you. When driving outside Switzerland, you should have the following documents with you:

To be on the safe side, you can carry backup copies of important documents separately from the originals.

Car insurance: valid worldwide

Your vehicle does not need any additional insurance for trips outside Switzerland: as a rule, your car insurance is also valid in the rest of Europe as well as in non-European Mediterranean countries and Mediterranean island states. Assistance insurance for motor vehicles is also valid outside Switzerland.
But be careful: your Helvetia car insurance is not valid in Russia, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan or Iran. In Kosovo, insurance does not cover liability.

It is advisable to note down the insurance cover’s emergency number and the relevant policy numbers and take them with you on your trip.

Travelling in a third-party vehicle

If you travel in a car that is not registered to you, you should check whether it would be wise to have an add-on for driving third-party vehicles under your personal liability insurance. Also note that, when crossing a border, you need authorization to use the vehicle. A statement of authorization signed by the owner of the vehicle will suffice.
But be careful: if the vehicle is registered abroad, it may not generally be driven by anyone who lives in Switzerland. Otherwise, it is regarded as imported, requiring duty and tax to be paid on it.

Whether holidaying in Switzerland or beyond: with the right preparations and our tips, you will be travelling without a care in the world.

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