Will I need to drive my own vehicle to conduct my everyday life (work/school/shopping) at my destination?
Public transport in Basel is superb and parking is very scarce so it is actually better to not own a car.  In the suburbs, though, you will most likely need to have one. 
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How can I legally drive a vehicle in this city?
In order to drive legally in Switzerland, you must be at least 18 years old. You can drive using a foreign driving license for up to one year. After this time, however, you need to exchange your license for a Swiss license at your local traffic police (Motorfahrzeugkontrolle).

When changing a foreign license to a Swiss license, you will be required to take a test, unless you are from a country with which Switzerland has an agreement. These countries are:

Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Iceland,  Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco,  Morocco, Norway, Netherlands,  Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, St. Martin, Sweden, and the United States.

International driving permits are also available to people over the age of 18 who hold valid full UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) driving licenses. An IDP is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
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What side of the road do people drive on?
People in Switzerland drive on the right side of the road. 
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Describe typical public transportation an expat might use to get around the city.
As mentioned earlier, the public transportation system in Basel is superb. There are many ways to get around the city, including:

  • Trains – The railway network in Switzerland is one of the most extensive in Europe. However, due to price increases, it is recommended that you purchase special tickets, excursion fares, family discounts and holiday package deals in order to travel more economically. The Swiss railway system is known for its efficiency and punctuality.
  • Trams and Buses – Basel is served by a comprehensive regional public transport system, which includes trams and buses. Many people use these reliable and comfortable forms of transportation.
  • Ferry – Instead of crossing the Rhine river by using a bridge, you can board one of the four ferries (faehri) that carry people across the river. This is a popular and fun way to travel.

Another very popular way to get around is cycling. Cycling is strongly promoted in Basel for environmental reasons and to reduce traffic. As a result, Basel is seen as one of the most cycle-friendly cities in Europe.  The city is clearly marked with a network of cycle routes, paths and bicycle parks. As with cars, bikes (velo) must also adhere to certain safety standards and must have a headlight, rear light, front and rear reflectors and good brakes.
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Could an expat also use public transportation to get out of the city—to surrounding towns, recreation areas or suburbs? If so, list options.
Yes, many travel via trams and buses because they serve the suburbs very well. There are also regional trains that travel to surrounding towns.
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In regards to transportation, are there any safety issues I should be aware of?
Driving tips:

  • Watch out for the many cyclists and trams in the city.
  • Always give way to vehicles coming from your right.
  • Traffic flows counter-clockwise in roundabouts, and cars to the left have priority.
  • Post buses always have the right of way, and drivers must sound their horns when approaching blind turns or corners.
  • Only hands-free headsets may be used while driving!
  • For insurance reasons, summer and winter tires (tyres) should be changed each season.
  • You must carry a red breakdown triangle.
  • It is prohibited for children under 12 years old to sit in the front seat.
  • Switzerland has similar drinking-and-driving laws to the UK, only allowing 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per liter of blood.
  • Seat belts front and rear are obligatory everywhere.
  • Speed limits, shown below, are implemented rigorously. Radar traps are frequent.
  • Remember - Speeding and other traffic offenses are subject to on-the-spot fines.

Speed limits


Open Road


Alcohol % in blood


120 km/h

80 km/h

50 km/h


It’s a good idea is to invest in some literature on how to drive in Switzerland. A useful guide in English is Living and Working in Switzerland.

Some helpful driving terms:
Umweg - detour
Eingang - entrance
Ausgang - exit
Benzin - gasoline
Parken verboten - No parking
Einbahn - one-way
Polizei - Police
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Where do I buy tickets/tokens/etc. for the major public transportation?
You can buy tickets at any of the stations or at the machines located by every bus or tram stop.
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Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.