Administrative vehicle

Traveling with original Swiss license plates ?

If you want to travel the world with a Swiss motor vehicle and the original Swiss license plates, the vehicle must remain registered with the relevant road traffic office and cannot be deregistered. This has the following consequences:

  • road tax must be paid
  • Compulsory liability insurance must be retained
  • the heavy vehicle charge can be waived for stays outside the Swiss borders
  • The technical tests must be carried out in accordance with the specifications of the Road Traffic Office

Heavy motor vehicles with caravan-type bodywork must be tested for the first time 4 years after they are first placed on the market. The second examination is mandatory after a further 3 years and every two years thereafter. Our MAN, which was first put on the market in 2001, must therefore undergo a technical inspection at the road traffic office every two years.

These examinations are mandatory and cannot be suspended even for a trip around the world. However, if you drive around the world with the original Swiss plates and simply ignore the summons to the test date, an international police alert will be issued. This means that you are wanted by the international police …. with devastating consequences.

Unfortunately, there is still no legal solution to this problem, even though the road traffic authorities are aware of the problem.

In plain language, this means that you can take a new expedition vehicle on a long-term trip abroad for up to 4 years with the original license plates and legal registration in Switzerland. After that, the duration is reduced to a further 3 years and then to 2 years.

Traveling without original license plates

Anyone intending to travel with an older vehicle for longer than the prescribed inspection intervals in non-European countries must develop their own concept for how to do this. In any case, vehicles can rarely be redeemed abroad unless you live there.

There are people who drive in non-European countries with license plate copies. However, nobody knows what risks this approach entails, even though Swiss liability insurance is not valid in these countries anyway, as they are outside the scope of the green insurance card.

Unfortunately, the Swiss license plates do not belong to the vehicle, as is the case in Germany, for example. The Swiss license plates must be deposited with the road traffic office if you do not want to pay road tax and liability insurance in Switzerland or avoid the periodic vehicle inspections (which is understandable if you are on a long-term trip abroad). However, the license plates can only be deposited for 12 months (in the canton of Zurich), with an application this can be extended to 24 months, but after that it is over and you “lose” your license plates, unless you redeem your vehicle in time.

If the Swiss license plates are merely deposited, i.e. the vehicle is not deregistered, the original vehicle registration document is retained. However, there may be difficulties if the vehicle is or was driven with an interchangeable plate. With an interchangeable plate, the larger vehicle is taxed and the liability premium for the larger vehicle is due and the plate cannot be deposited for one of the two vehicles.

Return to Switzerland

If you drive back to Switzerland without the original plates, things can get complicated:

  • If the vehicle is shipped back to Europe, you fly back to Europe anyway and can use this opportunity to legally redeem the vehicle at the road traffic office and pick it up at the port of arrival with the original plates. Of course, in this case the next technical inspection at the road traffic office is due immediately. However, it may be possible to reschedule the appointment in discussion with the road traffic office – for example, together with an appointment with an official representative of the vehicle brand that you drive. If necessary, the vehicle can also be picked up at the port with day plates. However, it is unclear whether the day plates are recognized abroad.
  • Returning to Switzerland by land is a little more complicated, as in this case the vehicle has to be parked in the last non-European country (which is outside the area of validity of the green insurance card) and you have to fly to Switzerland to collect the original plates.

If it is necessary to negotiate with the Road Traffic Office to postpone the inspection date or to redeem the vehicle, it would certainly be advantageous to be able to present all repair and service receipts from foreign manufacturers’ workshops to prove that the vehicle has been well maintained in the meantime.

Vehicle liability insurance

Compulsory Swiss liability insurance is invalid outside the area of validity of the green insurance card, i.e. generally outside Europe. It is therefore not really needed outside Europe. It is only needed if you want to travel with the original license plates. In this case, negotiate with the insurance company whether the sum insured can be reimbursed if proof is provided that the vehicle was outside the area of validity of the green insurance card (e.g. shipping documents).

In many countries outside Europe, you are often required to take out country-specific liability insurance at the border. This means that you are covered by vehicle liability insurance in this country. However, it remains to be seen whether these insurance policies will actually pay out in the event of an incident. But at least the legal requirements have been met. If you would also like to insure your vehicle against third party liability, you can, for example, use
in Hamburg or on
Assurantiekontor Alessie
in the Netherlands.

in that the processing of the insurance contract was very speedy and uncomplicated. For Africa, please contact TourInsure by phone or email.
Alternatively, the insurance application and premium table can be downloaded via this link:

Please note that persons aged 65 and over must submit a simple, informal medical certificate confirming their fitness to drive with their application.

Fully comprehensive vehicle insurance

Is it worth taking out fully comprehensive insurance? Is it even possible to take out fully comprehensive insurance with worldwide validity? The question is, if the vehicle is completely lost or totaled (accident, fire, etc.), whether or not I can afford a new vehicle afterwards.

We intend to take out worldwide comprehensive insurance through our “house insurance”,Schweizerische Mobiliar. We have already been promised the insurance. The basic requirement is, of course, Swiss residency. Moreover, Mobiliar only enters into this business with long-standing, good customers.

Shipping is included in the worldwide fully comprehensive insurance – even if the ship sinks. This saves on expensive shipping insurance, which puts the insurance premium into perspective.

Optionally, fully comprehensive insurance via
would be possible.

COMESA Yellow Card for East and Southern Africa

The “Comesa Yellowcard” exists for the African crossing on the eastern route. This cross-regional insurance is currently valid in the following countries, listed from north to south:

  • Sudan – Eritrea – Ethiopia – Kenya – Uganda – Rwanda – Tanzania – Malawi – Zambia – Zimbabwe – as well as Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Djibouti

The COMESA Yellowcard is an association of many national insurance companies under the umbrella of COMESA “Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa”.

The COMESA Yellowcard should therefore be available from any national insurance company participating in the program. So coming from the north in Sudan, coming from the south in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Exact addresses are not (yet) known. But at least the
link to the COMESA Yellowcard.


I was able to find the following insurance company in Sudan, but have not yet received confirmation that they also sell the COMESA Yellow Card. United Insurance of Sudan

Carnet de Passage

> Information will follow as soon as the relevant clarifications have been made.

If you have practical experience with the topics “Swiss vehicle on long-term trips abroad” and “Vehicle insurance on long-term trips”, I would be grateful if you could add to the above information. Thank you!

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