Buying and registering a vehicle in Geneva
Geneva, Switzerland – If you have taken an international job in Geneva, chances are you may have shipped a vehicle to Switzerland, under the special tax free provisions for international organizations and the diplomatic corps.
If however you are purchasing a vehicle in Switzerland, or otherwise do not qualify for the above exemption, you are faced with seemingly daunting Swiss regulations regarding the inspection, or so called “expertise” of a vehicle prior to registration.
My experience buying a “non-expertised” motorcycle shortly after arriving to Switzerland illustrates how costly this process can be.
When I road tested my bike (left) it drove and stopped well, but was not expertised at the time of purchase.
Let me just say I paid nearly three times the purchase price of the bike (not to mention several times the comparable US value) to bring the bike up to Swiss inspection standards – and the cost to my marriage was astronomical.
Therefore, when we were looking for a used vehicle, I swore to my wife and to myself that I would not consider a car without a valid expertise.
The formula for the canton of Geneva is as follows: if the vehicle is more than ten years old, it must have been inspected/expertised within the last 12 months; for vehicles less than ten years old, the previous expertise must still be in effect.
Why do you want to buy a vehicle with a valid inspection?
Geneva has very stringent inspection guidelines, for example a car must have something like 70% life left on the brake pads and discs to pass inspection (and they do measure with calipers). This is the bad news financially.
The good news is however that if you buy even an older car with high miles, a recent inspection will assure that the car is in relatively good working order.
With this in mind, I set out to find the range of car we were interested in, less concerned about the year and the kilometers logged, than about the date of the most recent inspection.
While vehicles are not inexpensive in Switzerland, you can find a reasonable deal by looking for well maintained older cars with a few kilometers logged.
Our mother-ship turned out to be a 19 year old Volvo – renowned for their longevity – with 258,000 km, but with a complete service history and recent inspection.
The bottom line for the car, including purchase price, registration and insurance comes out to something like 3,000 CHF – a breaking point whereby we calculate that we will get good value out of the car by the time significant repairs are necessary, or by the date of the next scheduled inspection (roughly 18 months).
Regarding where to shop for used cars in Geneva, good bets are the Geneva Home Information online classifieds as well as the Anibis and AutoScout sites, where you will find a wide range of used vehicles from throughout Swiss Romande (and the country), with pictures and detailed information.
Most sites do not offer English language options however the above sites are well laid out and fairly self explanatory. Check also the resources section of GenevaLunch for information on auto sales.