A distance-related heavy vehicle fee in Switzerland (HVF) has been levied since 1 January 2001. It replaces the previous flat-rate heavy vehicle fee. The brochure 'Fair and efficient' published by the Federal Office for Spatial Development provides a comprehensive overview of the fee (http://www.are.admin.ch/imperia/md/content/are/are2/publikationen/deutsch/112.pdf).
The pioneer character of this capacity-linked tax on heavy goods vehicles has obtained Europe-wide attention, but the target goals can only be achieved with the accordant promotion in and outside of Switzerland.
Changing the system to a distance-related fee should, in particular, contribute to:
- restricting the increase in heavy freight traffic on the roads
- promoting the transfer of goods traffic to rail
- relieving the strain on the environment
The HVF applies to heavy goods vehicles with an admissible laden weight of more than 3.5 tonnes and is calculated according to three criteria:
- number of kilometres covered on Swiss territory
- admissible laden weight of the vehicle
- vehicle's emissions
The effects of the HVF are being constantly monitored and evaluated. The most important results after the first year are a clear change of the trend in kilometres travelled by heavy goods traffic on the roads (decrease of 3% in comparison with increases of around 6% in the preceding years) and increased renewals of vehicle fleets.
The HVF corresponds to the transport policy formulated in the EU Commission's white paper of 12 September 2001 and is supported by international law in the overland transport agreement with the European Union, Germany and Austria are also planning to introduce distance-related heavy vehicle fees. The HVF was introduced without any major problems. The Swiss customs authority is responsible for implementing the fee.
The most important legal bases for its implementation are the 'Schwerverkehrsabgabegesetz' (Heavy vehicle fee act) and the 'Schwerverkehrsabgabeverordnung' (Heavy vehicle fee regulations). Article 85 of the Swiss Constitution provides a legal basis for the implementation of the fee.