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Switzerland

including Liechtenstein Area code 41 Common abbreviation CH Last updated 9-9-2018
Road class Syntax explanation Administrative subordination Sub classes Zones System Remarks
European road E[0-9]<2> Europe See Europe
Motorway (Autobahn/Autoroute/ Autostrada) (A)[0-9]<1-2>{a;.1} national 1-16 sequential Exit numbers: sequential
50-53 mainly Cantonal
Main road (Hauptstrasse/ Route principale) [0-9]<1-2>{[ab]} national 1-/2-d
Administrative numbers: These almost never appears on directional signs, but sometimes on km posts.
National highway (Nationalstrasse/ Route Nationale) N[0-9]<1-2>{[a-c];.1} national
Main road (Hauptstrasse/ Route principale) ({[AJT]}[0-9]<1-2>{[ab]}); ({[AJT]}[0-9]<3>{.[1-6]}) national 1-/2-d 1-30
101-499 increasing to the east
501-599
In addition, the same plus more minor roads have cantonal numbers, see Cantonal route lists.
Kantonsstrasse/ Route Cantonale ({K}[0-9]<1-4>{[a-e]|.[0-9]}) cantonal see region table
General description:
Motorways: The network contains single carriageways (second class motorways or motor traffic roads). The most significant difference between the A and N systems lies in the representation of concurrent numbers: if two numbers follow the same route, both A numbers are displayed on signs, while only one N number was used before (N numbers hardly ever appeared on signs).
Usually a signposted number Ax corresponds to an administrative number Nx. Exceptions are:
A-number (usually signposted) Administrative Section Remarks
A1 N1a/N10 Genève bypass
A1/A4 N1c/N20 Entire N1c
A2/A3 N2 Basel-Liestal The (A)3 will be linked to the German A861 in 2006
A6 T6 Schönbühl-Biel
A50 T7 Entire A50 Signposted as Hauptstrasse 7
A51 N1b/N11 Entire N1b
A52 - Entire road Cantonal only
A53 - Entire road
There are some motorways with two national administrative numbers. The suffixed number is probably older.
Suffixed number Unsuffixed number Description
N1a N10 Genève (Geneva) bypass
N1b N11 Link from N1 to Kloten airport
N1c N20 Zürich bypass
N4a N40 Link between N4 and Hauptstrasse T4
N4b N41 Link between N4 and German A81 (planned, 11 km)
Hauptstrassen: Only 1- and 2-digit numbers (up to 30) appear on signs. Suffixes can be either a or b.
Administrative numbers for Hauptstrassen which are signposted are the same or have prefix A, J or T. The designations A (Alp road, Alpenstrasse, Route alpestre), J (Jura road, Jurastrasse, Route du Jura) and T (Valley road, Talstrasse, Route de pleine) determine federal/cantonal funding percentages. A and J roads have the highest federal funding levels. Roads without A, J or T are Cantonal roads. Many roads have different designations on sections. For example, most of route 7 is just 7, but one part is J7 and another part is T7.
Note that there is a motorway A8 and an Alpenstrasse (A)8, but this is not confusing since the numbers are indicated differently. Both Hauptstrassen and Cantonal road numbers can have any number of digits (up to 3).
Most motorways with numbers under 50 have roughly the same route as the Hauptstrasse with the same number (e.g. A2 and Hauptstrasse 2). Exceptions are A7, A14 and A16.
3-digit numbers can have suffixes consisting of one digit (separated from the rest of the number by a dot). 3-digit numbers over 500 denote roads which are accessible only to vehicles of less than 2.30 m width. Some of them are part of another road:
Road Part of
511 A19
526 248.4
556 A17
558 13
Hauptstrassen can also have a separate cantonal number. Examples:
Signposted Administrative numbers
National Cantonal Section Remarks
4 Hauptstrasse 4 K17 Luzern-Rotkreuz
- Hauptstrasse 295 K275 Baden-Wettingen-Zürich
10 T10 K10 Wolhusen-Littau Green signs
19 Hauptstrasse 511 unknown Furkapass Possibly other cantonal number
Road signs: E and A numbers only appear at important junctions, mostly on signs above the road, and on signs indicating distances (after junctions).
Road/destination type Background Text Road numbers
Class Shape Background Text
Motorways Green White A As in Germany Red White
Other roads Blue White Hauptstrassen Rectangle Blue White
Local destinations White Black None

One of the few signs with N numbers (late 1980's, replaced in the 1990's by a sign indicating just a motorway symbol instead of N1/N7).
Some such signs still exist in Winterthur, e.g.

The only sign with the H5b:

N and J numbers sometimes appear on km posts, e.g. N2 and J18.
History:
Motorways: The first Swiss motorway, a 4 km section of the N2 south of Luzern, was opened in 1955. In the next ten years, very few motorways were opened, most were built in the 1970's. In 1996, the former N numbering system was replaced by a new system of A numbers. Most digits stayed the same, but some were changed. The higher numbers 50-53 were assigned to Cantonal motorways near Zürich. The N numbers (Nationalstrassen/Routes Nationales) are retained as an administrative system. In 2013 there were still a few signs with N numbers.
Originally it was planned to complete the entire National road network by 1980. It is now planned for around 2030, though there are plans to extend the N network by a number of minor roads, some of which will then also be upgraded in subsequent decades. 
Exit numbering used to exist only in Basel, with low numbers increasing to the north so they could not be extended along the rest of the road. A new system was introduced probably in 2003, with sequential numbers and symbols similar to those in France and Austria.
Main roads The Swiss Society for the numbering of roads (Société suisse pour le numérotage des routes, SSNR) was founded on 23 november 1912. It designed a road numbering system with main routes 1-19 and a very dense system of 2-digit numbers. See map and route list. They put up signs for some of the routes before World War I. Description of the system:
1-19 the most important main roads
[2-9][0-9] other connecting roads
[0-9]<1-2>.[0-9]<1-2> branches and connections between other roads
Numbers are derived in three different ways:
Connection between two roads, e.g. 2.71 is a link between 2 and 71. Both variants can exist, e.g 31.69 and 69.31. The second number (only) can also be in another country: 8.GC11 is a link between highway 8 and the French GC11.
Both numbers can also be the same for a shortcut or bypass, e.g. 7.7 is a shortcut to highway 7 and 10.10 is a bypass to 10 (Eugstisried - Gams - Werdenberg).
Other branch roads: If one of the numbers is 0 it is a branch road derived from the other nonzero number. Again both 0.4 and 4.0 exist and are randomly assigned. In exceptional cases, a branch road is not linked to one of the roads in the number. E.g. 99.2 is near 99 but not linked to it. 3.2 is just a branch from 3 and has even no relation with 2 at all.
Other special cases:
Many numbers continue through neighbouring countries, e.g. 40 crosses the French border 4 times.
Many of the main roads are still the same as current main roads but almost no numbers have stayed the same. Highway 1 was already the main route Genève - Lausanne - Bern - Zürich - Winterthur but via Luzern instead of Langenthal and Lenzburg. Also it continued to Bregenz instead of Konstanz. Highway 2 has stayed almost the same. There was no main road Basel - Winterthur along the Rhine because there was no bridge across the Aare in Koblenz yet (opened 1937).
Interestingly, there are no numbered roads at all in Graubünden (Grisons). This may be because cars were against the law at the time (until 1925).
There are many routes that are not meaningful as a whole. It is clear that one has attempted to number as many routes as possible with numbers up to 99. For example, route 76 roughly follows three quarters of a circle from highway 3 in the south to Zug, then to Baar and Wädenswil and back to highway 3 at Schindellegi. Then it continues to Oberiberg.
Number 95 is wrongly assigned twice.
In 1934 an administrative road numbering system was designed by the government. It defined 195 numbers for short routes, and was therefore not suitable for motorists.
In January 1937, this was replaced by a more useful system with sequential numbers, main roads were given low numbers 1-47, other roads had numbers over 60. The higher the number, the less important the road. Signs were to be changed until 1938.
In August 1957, the system was changed (e.g. 34 was rerouted to Münsterlingen and the section Kesswil - Amriswil became highway 167) and extended.
Around 1974, the current system was introduced, with new numbers 1-30 for main roads, and 3-digit numbers for other roads, which were not signposted. Examples of changes:
Old number New number Section
11 20 Neuchâtel - La-Chaux-de-Fonds - France
20 11 Entire road except near Château-d'Oex
31 14 Frauenfeld - Schaffhausen
32 14 Entire road
76 11 Entire road Shortcut for old route 20
77 11 Entire road
98 30 Entire road
108 30 Entire road
127 2b Entire road
132 2a Entire road
Note that Switzerland is probably the only country in the world where the network of roads with signposted numbers was much more dense in 1970 than in 2000.

An old sign with a 3-digit number on the current route 332.
For more numbers see old Hauptstrassen route list.
In principle, the system extends to Liechtenstein, but the numbers are never signposted there.
Sources and links: Various maps and atlases, personal experience

    Official sites:
  1. Bundesamt für Strassen
  2. Verkehrsdaten
  3. Belastungskarte 2005
  4. Thurgau map of all H and K roads
  5. Anpassung des Bundesbeschlusses über das Nationalstrassennetz SR 725.113.11
  6. Swisstopo historical maps
    Route lists:
  7. Nationalstrassen
  8. Hauptstrassen
    Specific roads:
  9. A1 in canton Fribourg
  10. Basel Nordtangente (A3) Pictures
  11. A4 N4.2.1/2/3 Miniautobahn Andelfingen - Flurlingen
  12. A5 in Biel
  13. A8 in Obwalden
  14. A9 in canton Valais
  15. A12 in canton Fribourg
  16. Stadttangente Bern A1
  17. F21 Frauenfeld
  18. T14
    Other links:
  19. Autobahnen.ch contains links to most motorways
  20. Motorway exit lists
  21. City maps
  22. Road types
  23. Motorway pictures Very large number of pictures. Click on the signs above the pictures to follow the roads.
  24. Motorway rest areas with overview of all exits (contains some errors).
  25. NZZ article about history of road numbering
  26. Les plaques indicatrices dans les communes du Jura
  27. ViaStoria
  28. Société Suisse du numérotage des routes map
    Historical newspaper articles:
  29. Société suisse pour le numérotage des routes Nouvelliste Valaisan 24-10-1914, page 4
    Translation:
    Regarding signposts
    Communicated by the army staff. Several newspapers in western Switzerland have published articles about kilometer posts for motorists, placed in French speaking Switzerland. They assumed that this work was done by a German organisation with headquarters in Lyon, associated with the German intelligence service. This assertion is incorrect in all points. The installation of these posts on Swiss roads is the work of a Geneva organisation, entered in the trade register on 23 November 1912, under the name of Swiss Society for the numbering of roads, whose current director is a Swiss named Bornand, domiciled in Geneva. The founders of that company were French. The comments in newspapers accompanied by misrepresentations are therefore completely unfounded.
  30. Erection of signs in Neuchâtel L’Impartial 7-4-1916, page 5, Chronique neuchâteloise
  31. Erection of signs for routes 9 and 42 Feuille d’avis de Neuchâtel 16-10-1916, page 4
    Translation:
    The numbering of roads – The Swiss Society for the numbering of roads is trying to accomplish a very useful task in our region in collaboration with employees of the Neuchâtel authorities. They are currently numbering route 9 which runs between Le Locle and Basel, via La Chaux-de-Fonds, Sonceboz, Tavannes, Bellelay, Undervelier, Delémont and Laufen. At the same time, the work is done for route 42, which goes from Biaufond to Neuchatel, via La Chaux-de-Fonds, Vue-des-Alpes, Val-de-Ruz. All those who know what excellent services the society for the numbering of roads provides for tourists will be happy to know that this valuable work is being done in our mountains.
  32. New numbers in Valais Le Confédéré 29-1-1937, page 2, Nouvelles du Valais
    Translation of the first part:
    Numbering priority roads. - The Federal Council has designated the main roads with the right of way. They are indicated by a blue sign with white road number. These signs must be placed before 1 March 1938.
  33. Revision of road numbering L’Impartial 7-8-1957, page 6, L'actualité suisse

  34. Other pages within this site:
  35. Europe
  36. Road sign colours
  37. Cantonal routes (preliminary version)
  38. Co-ordinates for km markers csv
  39. Description of road sections
  40. MyMap for kilometerage
  41. Hauptstrassen from 1912 to 1937
  42. Hauptstrassen from 1937 until around 1974

  43. Pictures of motorways / expressways:
  44. A1 in positive direction part 1 Geneva - Berne
  45. A1 in positive direction part 2 Berne - Zurich
  46. A1 in positive direction part 3 Zurich - St. Margrethen
  47. A1 in negative direction part 1 St. Margrethen - Zurich
  48. A1 in negative direction part 2 Zurich - Berne
  49. A1 in negative direction part 3 Berne - Geneva
  50. A4 in positive direction Bargen - Altdorf
  51. A4 in negative direction Altdorf - Bargen
  52. A5 in positive direction Yverdon - Solothurn
  53. A5 in negative direction Solothurn - Yverdon
  54. A6 in positive direction Biel - Wimmis
  55. A6 in negative direction Wimmis - Biel
  56. A14 in positive direction Luzern - Rotkreuz
  57. A14 in negative direction Rotkreuz - Luzern
  58. A16 in positive direction Boncourt - Biel
  59. A16 in negative direction Biel - Boncourt
  60. A52 in positive direction
  61. A52 in negative direction

  62. Pictures of Hauptstrassen:
  63. H1 east
  64. H1 west
  65. H2 north
  66. H2 south
  67. H2a east
  68. H2a west
  69. H2b east
  70. H2b west
  71. H3 east
  72. H3 west
  73. H4 south
  74. H4 north
  75. H5 south
  76. H5 north
  77. H5a south
  78. H5a north
  79. H6 east
  80. H6 west
  81. H7 east
  82. H7 west
  83. H8 east
  84. H8 west
  85. H9 east
  86. H9 west
  87. H10 east
  88. H10 west
  89. H11 east
  90. H11 west
  91. H12 south
  92. H12 north
  93. H13 south
  94. H13 north
  95. H14 east
  96. H14 west
  97. H15 south
  98. H15 north
  99. H16 south
  100. H16 north
  101. H17 south
  102. H17 north
  103. H18 east
  104. H18 west
  105. H19 east
  106. H19 west
  107. H20 east
  108. H20 west
  109. H21 south
  110. H21 north
  111. H22 east
  112. H22 west
  113. H23 south
  114. H23 north
  115. H24 south
  116. H24 north
  117. H25 south
  118. H25 north
  119. H26 south
  120. H26 north
  121. H27 east
  122. H27 west
  123. H28 east
  124. H28 west
  125. H29 south
  126. H29 north
  127. H30 east
  128. H30 west
  129. Zurich various

Region table

Canton Syntax System Remarks
Aargau K[1-4][0-9]<2>
Basel-Land [0-9]<4> 3 zones determined by first digit, increasing from west to east, numbers increase to the south in each zone. There is an obsolete system with syntax K[0-9]<1-2>
Fribourg RC[0-9]<3> unknown
Genève [0-9]<1-2> Sequential
Jura [0-9]<4> The number of zeroes at the end determines the sub class, so the most important roads have a number ending in 3 zeroes.
Luzern K[0-9]<1-2>{[a-c]} Sequential Hauptstrassen with T and A numbers have the same K number, e.g. T10 = K10.
Neuchâtel [123][123][0-9]<1-2> Sub classes: Hauptstrassen with 1- and 2-digit numbers do not have cantonal numbers.
3-d Link roads (routes de liasions) Number is the same as the Hauptstrassennumber, e.g. H170 = Cantonal route 170.
4-d beginning with 1 First class collector roads The second digit indicates maintenance areas (Divisions d'entretien), e.g. numbers 1162, 2187 and 3103 are in zone 1.
4-d beginning with 2 or 3 Second class collector roads
Sankt Gallen [0-9]<1-2> Subclasses: 1-d / 2-d
Solothurn [0-9]<4> The number of zeroes at the end determines the sub class, so the most important roads have a number ending in 3 zeroes.
Vaud [0-9]<1-3>[a-d] Every road number has a suffix a, b, c or d, indicating the sub class:
a Principal highways first class Most roads have sections of different classes. For example, route 54 consists of routes 54b, 54c and 54d.
Route 151 is the only one which has sub sections of all four classes.
b Principal highways second class
c Main secondary roads
d Other secondary roads
Zug [0-9]<3> The number of zeroes at the end determines the subclass. The most important roads are 700, 800 and 900.
The obsolete system:
[0-9]<1-3>{[a-h]} Hauptstrassen Numbers are identical to Hauptstrassennumbers, but most routes are split into sections by adding a letter. E.g. H368 consists of Cantonal roads 368a and 368b.
[A-U] Other roads
Zürich K[0-9]<1-2> unknown A53 = K53

Marcel Monterie

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