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Transportation in Geneva

Are you considering living in Geneva? International and welcoming, this city has a lot to offer both in terms of facilities and infrastructure. With this InterNations Guide, you will find an overview of the key aspects of expat life, including education and transportation.

Other Means of Transport

Other means of transport in Geneva include taxis and boats. The former can be difficult to catch on the street, so people tend to pre-book taxis when possible. This can be done online at the Céntrale téléphonique de taxis à Genève, or by phone under 022 33 141 33.

Apart from a small fee for luggage, there shouldn’t be any charges on top of the amount displayed on the taxi meter. VAT is included, and tips are not expected. Just for reference: A trip from the airport to the city center should cost between 35 and 45 CHF.

Ferries on Lake Geneva are operated by two companies: Mouettes Genevoises runs shuttle services across the end of the lake which reaches into the city, and the Compagnie Générale de Navigation sur le lac Léman offers boats to destinations further away.

Want to Drive Your Own Car?

Foreigners can import their car to Switzerland free of taxes and customs duties for a maximum period of two years. If you are staying for less than one year, you can drive your car in Geneva without declaring it as long as you have sufficient insurance cover.

Non-permanent foreign residents staying longer than a year must contact the customs office for a tax exemption, which can be granted for up to two years. If you have a used car that is imported solely for personal use, you may be permanently exempt from customs duties.

Getting Ready to Drive

Driving in Geneva is free and easy. However, in order to use the Swiss motorway system, it is imperative that you purchase an annual permit, the so-called vignette. A vignette is available at all border checkpoints, gas stations, garages, and post offices for the price of 40 CHF.

To avoid queues at border checkpoints, you can buy a vignette before entering Switzerland from most national automobile associations and in some cases online.

In addition, the vignette must be correctly affixed to your car’s windscreen, otherwise you might incur a fine. It is always valid for the current calendar year, no matter when it is bought. Therefore, even if you purchase the 2018 vignette in November 2018, it is only valid until January of the following year, i.e. 31 January 2019.

A Green City — Care for the Environment

Geneva, like the rest of Switzerland, is a very environmentally conscious place. Swiss drivers tend to switch off their motors when waiting at traffic lights or in traffic jams. There is a “bonus and malus” system with vehicle tax calculated on the basis of your car’s CO2 emissions.

Cycling is strongly encouraged by the Geneva City Council. You can obtain a free cycling map of Geneva and environs at the Espace Ville de Genève (Pont de la Machine, 1204 Genève). Please note that, if you intend to use your bike regularly in Switzerland, you should have liability insurance cover in case of an accident.

A lot of Geneva’s electricity is produced locally, and the rest is imported from renewable sources. Citizens of Geneva are expected to recycle their household waste whenever possible. You should do so by taking glass, paper, aluminum, and plastic to public recycling sites. They can be found in every neighborhood. Communities may also charge for waste collection which serves as an additional incentive for green living.


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