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Transportation in Basel

Expats living in Basel enjoy numerous amenities and an above-average quality of life. They profit from cultural and outdoor activities, as well as a great infrastructure for all areas of daily life. The InterNations guide to Basel introduces leisure, healthcare, schools, and local transportation in the region.

The River Rhine

Since the city owes much of its prosperity to commerce, Basel has always profited from its strategic location on the Upper Rhine. Today, it features excellent transport connections to the rest of Switzerland, as well as Germany and France. However, the three river ports in the cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Landschaft focus on commercial cargo rather than passenger traffic.

There is a riverboat company (the Basler Personenschifffahrt), but it mainly organizes pleasure cruises and excursions to Rheinfelden. Basel's national and international transport links are now by road, rail, and air.

The EuroAirport

The closest airport is located on French territory, and the two countries run this traffic node together. The EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg is Switzerland's third largest airport, with a record number of 6.5 million passengers in 2014. This success is due to its status as a popular point-of-departure for vacation flights by no-frills airlines like EasyJet or Air Berlin.

The EAP provides regular (and some seasonal) connections to Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and several other countries. Situated only six kilometers north of Basel, the airport is easy to reach by car, bus (BVB 50), or tram (line 2). A taxi ride to the city center costs about 50 CHF.

Train Stations in Basel

Basel's three train stations are as important for the city as the EuroAirport. The central station and the (formerly French) Basel SNCF building are part of the same complex nowadays. The French railway company has ceded most of its responsibilities to its Swiss equivalent. In addition to the central station, there is the Basel Badischer Bahnhof in the northern part of the city. It is run by the German Bahn AG, thus providing connections to various German cities.

From Basel's central station, trains depart to major cities in Switzerland, as well as Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, and Russia. Moreover, this station serves as an important stop for regional express trains in the Basel agglomeration (the S-Bahn).

Traveling by Public Transportation

Both Basel cantons (city and countryside) have an efficient and well-organized public transport network (known as BVB in town and BLT in the rural canton). It consists of about a dozen tram lines in Basel, as well as plenty of urban and rural bus lines. They serve all of Basel's neighborhoods and the larger towns in Basel-Landschaft. You can easily plan your journey in Basel City online.

Frequent passengers, especially commuters, benefit from buying the Green Travelcard. It is valid for all public transport connections in northwest Switzerland, beyond the immediate Basel area. Adults living in the region currently pay 76 CHF per month, and an annual subscription costs 760 CHF. However, if you are not a registered local resident (e.g. because you commute to work across the border), you have to pay 101 CHF for the same monthly travel card. Various other tickets are available at multi-lingual vending machines throughout Basel.

You can discover more information in our in-depth article on the Swiss public transportation system

Expat Driving Licenses

Please note that the following regulations only apply to expats in Switzerland. If you live in France or Germany, but want to drive to work in Basel, you have to follow French or German requirements, respectively. Please check the InterNations guides to driving in France and driving in Germany for more information.

If you prefer to drive while living in Basel, you are allowed to use your foreign permit for up to 12 months after moving to Switzerland. At the end of this year, you have to switch to a Swiss license. To acquire a category B driving permit for cars, please take these steps:

  • Do an eyesight test.
  • Fill out the application form and attach a recent passport photograph.
  • Bring along your valid foreign license and your alien ID card.
  • Pay a fee of 140 CHF.

If your foreign permit has been valid for less than a year, though, you will only be issued a probationary license. It is valid for a maximum of three years. During this period, you have to comply with special learner's rules and take additional driving classes.

Information for Drivers and Car Owners

In Basel City, you can get your Swiss driving license here:

Motorfahrzeugskontrolle des Kantons Basel-Stadt

Clarastrasse 38

4005 Basel

3rd floor (2. Stock)

061 267 82 00

info@mfkbs.jsd.bs.ch

If you are a registered resident of Basel-Landschaft, the following office can issue your Swiss driving permit:

Motorfahrzeugpruefstation Basel-Landschaft

Reinacherstrasse 40

4142 Muenchenstein

061 416 46 46

mfpbb@bl.ch

If you consider importing your own car into Switzerland, you should also contact the MFP Basel-Landschaft. For a certain fee, they will examine your vehicle documents and tell you if your car needs any major changes or repairs to comply with Swiss regulations. This service may save you a rude awakening and much hassle later on. Even if you don't have to make any technical changes, though, you may still have to pay customs duties for the import.

You can find even more information in our articles on driving in Switzerland and using your own car respectively

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Andrey Vasilyev

"I was able to connect with other expats in Zurich who enjoy cycling as much as I do and organize weekly rides."

Elin Gustavson

"At the first InterNations event that I attended, I met my wonderful partner. We now live together in a flat next to the Limmat."

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