Categorized | Geneva, Legal, Lifestyle, Transport, Zurich

Living in Switzerland – Parking and Traffic Fines

Posted on 26 February 2007 by LegalBeagle

To live in Switzerland or to work in Switzerland is to get used to the greater organization and structure of Swiss life. The Swiss are serious about order. Nowhere is this more visible on a daily basis than in parking regulations. In France or in Italy, few people take parking tickets seriously. In Switzerland, the probability is substantial that if you park illegally you will get a ticket. If you are parking illegally in cities such as Geneva or Zurich, you will amlost certainly get a ticket, as these municipalities draw substantial income from parking tickets. In Geneva, CHF 20 million of fines traffic fines are assessed each year.

Ignoring your traffic fines can get very expensive. If the amount owed is substantial, the authorities come to look for you and put you in jail.


The local papers relate the mishaps of those who ignore their fines. Even if you live in neighboring France, the police eventually catch you when you drive across the border. Then you get the choice of prison time (each day equals CHF30 off your debt —

not a very enticing conversion factor unless you’re homeless) or paying your accumulated fines, plus interest, plus administrative penalties. However, by law the maximum amount of time one can be imprisoned for traffic fines is 3 months.

En 2006, the prosecutor’s office in Geneva converted more than 2500 fines into jail terms. The Swiss authorities do this when the perpetrator cannot pay the fines or when the individual is domiciled outside of Switzerland and has refused to settle the fines (and has been caught at the borders or within Switzerland). About 10 days ago a prisoner incarcerated at Champ-Dollon prison for traffic fines committed suicide (the reasons have not been determined).

When you work in Switzerland in urban centers such as Zurich, Lausanne, Lugano, or Geneva, finding parking at or near your work can be challenging (Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich are the worst parking-wise).

Paying parking lots charge on average CHF 20-25 /day and renting a permanent parking place in Zurich or Geneva (which is often necessary if you live in the city center and own a car) costs on average CHF 250/month.

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