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Renting a Car in Switzerland

Renting a car for use in Switzerland is generally a simple and organized procedure but there are a few points that drivers should take into consideration.  A general rule of thumb is to learn and understand the traffic regulations as to not violate local laws.  Fines are easy to come by in Switzerland so strict adherence should apply.

Driving in Switzerland

It is also common in Switzerland for traffic lights to flash amber outside rush hour times. This means 'proceed with caution' and to remember to lookout for cyclists. On narrow mountain roads, vehicles travelling uphill assume the right of way, which, incidentally, is also the rule in the US. Unlike neighboring Germany, the maximum speed allowed on Switzerland’s highways is 120kph or 74mph and 50kph 31mph within the cities. If you are caught for speeding or for another traffic offence, fines are normally payable on the spot for all non-resident drivers. Also, Switzerland is particularly strict regarding drinking and driving. The law is very strict, random testing is carried out and if convicted you will loose your license, receive a heavy fine and may be imprisoned. If you hold a driving license and are travelling in a car with a drunk driver, you are equally responsible under Swiss law.  In order to drive on highways you must purchase a small sticker pass to be displayed on your windshield.  This pass which is valid for the year costs about $30 but temporary stickers may be available. You can purchase this at gas stations and some convenience stores.   The minimum driving age in Switzerland is 18 years of age but in order to rent or drive a rental vehicle, most major rental car companies require you to be at least 25 years of age.  Some of the smaller companies allow you to rent a car at 21.

Be sure to apply for an international driver’s license prior to your departure. 

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Parking in Switzerland

Parking designations are clearly marked and regulations are strictly enforced.  In the major cities, parking is often an issue unless you are willing to pay for expensive parking. Most cities have blue zones that require you to display a parking disc on your dashboard indicating time of arrival and allowing restricted parking time. You can purchase these discs at gas stations and convenience stores. Parking on the sidewalks is illegal in Switzerland. White Zones (white road markings): means permit free unlimited parking. Red zones (red road markings) allow you to park up to 15 hours for free, but you must have a red parking disc. If you use a multi-story car park, remember you must pay before you go to your car at one of the ticket machines, as generally you can’t pay at the exit.
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