The “CH” sticker that Swiss drivers must legally put on their vehicles before entering another country might disappear, according to the newspaper 20 Minutes.
The sticker, a distinguishing sign of the state in which the car is registered, must be attached to rear of any vehicle driven in a foreign country1. It is required under the 1968 international convention on road traffic. Under these rules, the distinguishing sign must use Latin characters2, so the red insignia on Swiss plates doesn’t qualify. EU licence plates, on the other hand, have country initials incorporated into them so do not need to add a sticker.
In practice not all foreign countries respond to CH sticker delinquents in the same way. Italian police seem to be the most zealous enforcers, while the French and German police rarely do anything.
An ongoing sticker struggle between fans of the sticker, who claim it is a low cost easy fix, and those who object and would like to see “CH” incorporated into the Swiss licence plate, has resulted in an initiative, which aims to put the issue to a popular vote – initiators have until 5 September 2020 to collect sufficient signatures.
However, in the meantime, a practical numbering issue looks like it might force change in Swiss licence plate design. Swiss plates, which are issued by the canton of residence, consist of six numbers, placing a mathematical limit on the number of plates, a limit which is close to being reached in cantons with large populations.
Before these limits are reached, a new design will be needed, and the new design could incorporate a “CH”. The Federal Council will examine the issue. So far no timetable has been set.
Note: “CH” stands for Confoederatio Helvetica, Latin for Swiss Confederation.
1 Article 37: Distinguishing sign of the State of registration. Every motor vehicle in international traffic shall display at the rear, in addition to its registration number, a distinguishing sign of the State in which it is registered.
2 The composition of the distinguishing sign referred to in this Article, and the manner of displaying it, shall conform to the requirements of Annex 3 to this Convention. Annexe 3 states: The distinguishing sign referred to in Article 37 of this Convention shall consist of one to three letters in capital Latin characters.