transferable license plates
Everyday Money

Interchangeable License Plates in Switzerland

December 8, 2021 - Daniel Dreier

What are interchangeable license plates and how can you use them to save money in Switzerland? Get informed in this guide.

If you own two or more cars but only use one of them at a time, transferable or interchangeable license plates offer a way to save money on car insurance and road taxes in Switzerland.

1. What are transferable license plates?

Interchangeable license plates are vehicle license plates which can be used for multiple vehicles. The license plates must be physically removed from one vehicle and attached to another. Only the vehicle which bears the set of license plates at any one time is licensed to use public roads.

Sharing interchangeable license plates is limited to vehicles in the same category (two light passenger vehicles or two motorcycles, for example). You can use one pair of interchangeable license plates for a maximum of two regular vehicles. For trailers, utility vehicles and classic cars, on the other hand, a single set of plates can be used for unlimited vehicles in a given category.

2. How can I apply for transferable license plates?

Applications must be made at your local cantonal road traffic office. You have to specifically request transferable plates, or traffic offices will issue regular single-vehicle license plates by default.

You have to provide both the original ownership papers and proof of insurance for the two vehicles when you apply.

It is important that you tell your insurer that you plan to use transferable license plates when you take out insurance for a second car. Besides the fact that interchangeable plates affect your insurance premiums (more on this below), your proof of insurance will state that you are using transferable license plates. Without this, you will not be able to get interchangeable license plates.

3. What are the advantages of interchangeable license plates?

The benefits of using interchangeable license plates are purely financial.

Firstly, when you register two cars under a single set of license plates you only pay road taxes for the car with the higher tax rate.

Secondly, when you use interchangeable license plates you are only obligated to get one compulsory third-party liability car insurance policy instead of two. Both cars will be insured, but you will only pay for the car which commands the higher insurance premiums.

When you deregister one of your cars, your insurance premiums and road taxes will be adjusted to match the remaining car.

4. What are the disadvantages of using interchangeable license plates?

The obvious disadvantage of interchangeable license plates is that you can only drive one of your cars on public roads at any one time. That makes them unsuitable for couples, families or drivers which use both of their cars simultaneously.

You pay the traffic office an annual flat fee for the use of transferable license plates each calendar year. This fee typically costs between 50 and 70 francs, depending on the canton. The full fee applies even if you only register the car late in the year.

Another obvious disadvantage is that the license plates must be removed from one car and placed on another every time you want to switch cars, which is somewhat impractical. It is worth noting though that you can get special Swiss license plate holders which are designed specifically for quickly and easily exchanging transferable license plates.

5. How much money can one save by using interchangeable license plates?

The amount you can save depends on which canton you live in and what type of cars you drive. Savings can exceed 1000 francs per year, compared to using separate license plates.

This could be the case, for example, if you have two powerful cars with high insurance and road tax costs. But even if you own one small-engined and one high-powered car, the savings can still come to hundreds of francs.

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Editor Daniel Dreier
Daniel Dreier is editor and personal finance expert at
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