Distance-related heavy vehicle fee (HVF)

A distance-related heavy vehicle fee (HVF) has been levied in Switzerland since 1 January 2001. It replaces the previous flat-rate heavy vehicle fee.

The switch to a distance-related fee system was aimed at:

  • limiting the increase in heavy vehicles on the road
  • encouraging the shipment of freight by rail (road-to-rail policy)
  • relieving the strain on the environment

The HVF applies to heavy-goods vehicles with a permissible laden weight exceeding 3.5 tonnes and is calculated on the basis of three criteria:

  • number of kilometres covered on Swiss territory
  • permissible laden weight of vehicle
  • vehicle emissions

Rate of charge

An initial rate of 1.68 centimes per tonne-kilometre (tkm) was charged upon introduction of the HVF. This rose to 2.44 centimes per tkm in 2005 and 2.70 centimes per tkm on 1 January 2008. This rate reflects the uncovered costs imposed and total number of tonne-kilometres driven by heavy road vehicles (calculated according to permissible laden weight).

Use of revenue

  • One-third of net revenue goes to the cantons
  • Two-thirds of net revenue goes to the federal government

The cantons use their allocation mainly to meet their share of the uncovered road transport costs. The federal government's share is primarily used to finance the following major public transport projects:

  • Rail 2000
  • New transalpine rail routes (NEAT)
  • Links to the European high-speed network
  • Rail noise control programme

International context

The HVF is supported by international law through the Overland Transport Agreement with the European Union. Three years after Switzerland, on 1 January 2004, Austria also successfully introduced a distance-related heavy vehicle fee, with Germany following suit one year later. In both countries, the fee is essentially limited to vehicles using the motorways. The Czech Republic also introduced a heavy vehicle fee for motorways and clearways on 1 January 2007. A similar solution is planned in the Slovak Republic.


The impact of the HVF is continuously monitored and analysed by the ARE. The principal result has been a significant reduction in road use by heavy-goods vehicles. After a steady increase in the years prior to introduction of the HVF, the distances travelled fell sharply in the two subsequent years. At the end of 2005, the figure was still 6.5% down on 2000. Other important knock-on effects included a noticeable surge in the renewal of vehicle fleets and a movement towards concentration in the road haulage sector.

Legal basis

The key legislation for enforcement of the HVF comprises the Federal
Heavy Vehicle Fee Act (Schwerverkehrsabgabegesetz) and the Federal Heavy
Vehicle Fee Ordinance (Schwerverkehrsabgabeverordnung). Article 85 of
the Swiss Constitution provides the constitutional basis. The HVF was
introduced without any notable problems. Its enforcement is delegated to
the Swiss Federal Customs Administration.