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Swiss car number plates consist of a two letter code for the canton followed by up to 6 numerical digits. The rear plates also contain small shields representing the flags of Switzerland and the canton. For official vehicles, the two letter code is replaced by a one letter code, A, P or M, meaning respectively Federal Administration, Public Authorities (such as Railroads) or Postal Service, and Military. The front numberplate is a smaller version with the same code as the rear.

Cantons


Colors


In most cantons, it is possible to find any license plate with the same number in different colors. The colors are different kinds of use or vehicle types.

  • Standard white: Motor vehicles, motorcycles, small three-wheeled vehicles and trailers.
  • Blue: Utility vehicle, such as construction vehicles or firefighting vehicles
  • Brown: Exceptional vehicles (large size, weight or dimensions) such as mobile cranes or excavators
  • Yellow: Light motor vehicles and small motorcycles limited to 45 km/h
  • Green: Agricultural vehicles and machinery
  • White on black: Military vehicles (a singular "M" replaces the cantonal abbreviation, followed by 5 digits. No cantonal shield is present)

Nationality stripe


According to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, a distinguishing sign of the country of registration must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle when driving outside the country of registration. This sign may either be placed separately from the registration plate or may be incorporated into the vehicle registration plate.

Swiss plates are close to reach the mathematical limit in cantons with large populations. Before these limits are reached, a new design will be needed. The Federal Council will examine the issue, and the new design could incorporate a “CH”.

There is also an initiative from those who would like to see “CH” incorporated into the Swiss licence plate who aim to put the issue to a popular vote. The initiators have until 5 September 2020 to collect sufficient signatures.[1]

Special uses


  • U - Dealer plate
  • Z - Import plate (Limited validity)
  • V - Rental plate (No longer used)
  • Year bands - Temporary plate

Only official car dealer / car repair companies can use the "U" plates. Usually they use this plate for only a few days on one vehicle. This "U" plate can be used on trucks and cars no matter what engine power or pollution rating the vehicle has. The plate can be placed on the standard position as like a car plate is based on a vehicle, but it is also possible to fix it with a magnetic device on the hood and on the vehicle's rear. Because of a European regulation that identification as a rental car should not be possible, the plates with "V" are no longer in use. Today, rental cars usually have common car plates with the canton codes VD or AI. Temporary duty unpaid vehicles use "Z" plates and year band while Temporary duty paid plate have year band on the right. Taxi cabs are generally given three- or four-digit registration numbers. This is to allow telephone reservation customers easy identification of the promised car when it arrives for the pick-up.

Military vehicles


Military vehicles (Vehicles of the Army and government vehicles the Department of Defense), vehicles of the Border Guard, the Customs investigation authorities and the Swiss Armed Forces by road traffic and shipping offices of the Army (SVSAA) with military license plates registered (article 28 paragraph 1 VFBF). This flag bears the Swiss coat followed by an "M" (short for "Military") and the number of white characters on a black background. The M numbers are assigned according to vehicle type and procurement tranche and are continuously in sourcing series. e.g. Pz87 (Leopard 2):

  • First Series 35 pcs: M77101 to M77135
  • Second Series 120 pcs: M77136 to 77255
  • Third Series 225 pcs: M77256 to 77480
  • Entpannungspanzer 65 69Stk: M78631 to M78699

For each prototype, the number 0 is used in the first place according to the M, both in vehicles, the Swiss army found (e.g. Entpannungspanzer prototype 65, M0870), as well as in vehicles which are not in any of the series (e.g. 35mm Kan flab Pz B22L, M0888 and M0889, or M0872 M0898 M0899 tank gun 68). These black plates are similar to the Vehicle registration plates of Liechtenstein.

Obsolete types


Civilian Federal vehicles got the Swiss shield followed by "A" (short for "Administration") and the number. The first digit of the five digit number indicated the department to which the vehicle belonged to. These plates are no longer used and were replaced with cantonal plates. But the black numbers for the Swiss Army remain untouched (see above).

The number series were:

  • A 1XXXX

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

  • A 2XXXX

Federal Department of Home Affairs

  • A 3XXXX

Federal Department of Justice and Police

  • A 4XXXX

Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport

  • A 5XXXX

Federal Department of Finance

  • A 6XXXX

Federal Department of Economy

  • A 7XXXX

DETEC Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication

Post, Telegraph and Telephone (PTT) and the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) were part of the federal government until 1997/98. Their vehicles had a registration plate with the Swiss coat followed by a "P" (short for "Post") and the number. After Post, Swisscom and SBB became independent companies, the P-plates were phased out and replaced with cantonal plates, depending on the location of the individual vehicle. Replacement was completed by the end of 2003.

  • P 1XXXX to P 7XXXX were attributed to PTT
  • P 8XXXX to P 9XXXX were attributed to SBB

Diplomatic plates


Vehicles by members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps and several international organizations enter the location of the embassy or the consulate State issued license plate on the model (Article 84 paragraph 4 and 86 VZV).

  • Character "CD" on a green background: Official car of the diplomatic missions Motor vehicles of members of the diplomatic staff of the missions
  • Characters "CC" on a green background: Official car, headed by a career consular officials Motor vehicles of biometrics

Separate suffix "CC" for a maximum of one car every honorary head of post of a consular post, which the Federal Council has given the exequatur. The vehicle pass should in such cases have the words "approved CC characters."

  • Character "CD" on a blue background:

Company car permanent missions or other representations to intergovernmental organizations, and motor vehicles of members of the diplomatic staff of the missions

  • Official car institutional beneficiaries as intergovernmental organizations, international institutions, secretariats or other established by an international treaty bodies, independent commissions, international courts, tribunals and other international bodies (Article 2 para 1 lit. A, B, I, J, K, L, and M are the Host State Act), the privileges, immunities and facilities, as well as motor vehicles of the highest-ranking officials of the institutional beneficiaries who have a diplomatic status in Switzerland.
  • Characters "AT" on a green background: Administrative and technical staff of the embassies located in the Bern canton.

The characters "CD", "CC" and "AT" are followed by the Canton shortcuts and two numbers separated by a space of the second digit which indicates the block and sending the first block is a sequence number for the vehicles of that state.

The diplomatic plates reflect the mission to which that particular plate has been assigned. For example, CD VD 79 035 would be a CD plate from Canton Vaud, for a diplomat who belongs to the international organisation 035. The number 79 is a sequence number within the same organisation. The first numbers of the serial number are reserved for the head of the agency or organization and his deputies. The second numbers of the serial number are the country of registration:

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