The Swiss may be a peculiar people when it comes to imposing bureaucracy in order to fix trivial things. This tendancy has resulted in a variety of weird Swiss laws - some of which have taken on a life of their own as they have been passed around online forums for years...
I would loosely categorize these "laws" into "social mores" (frowned upon by society), rules and "actual laws" - for the lack of a better term. So here are 11 weird Swiss laws for your enjoyment (and debate):
1. Animals may not be kept by themselves but only with a companion.
The 2008 addendum to the Swiss animal rights code specifies for each animal how many others of their kind are required by law. In other words, a guinea pig requires at least one companion, and so does a mouse or a ferret!
A fairly recent push for a law stated that all animals should have the right to be represented in court by a court appointed attorney. To the best of my knowledge, no other country on earth has similarly advanced animal rights - yet. I really liked this 2010 popular initiative which unfortunately did not pass. Back then, a case of illegal "catch & release" fishing stirred up a debate about animals' rights.
I guess that court cases by Angry Birds and Grumpy Cats were too much for the voters to take. The policy from 2008 is still in effect though which makes it illegal to flush goldfish down the toilet or keep hamsters by themselves.
2. A man may not relieve himself while standing up after 10 PM. Also, you are not supposed to flush the toilet after 10 PM.
Depending on an apartment building's posted rules, these basic actions may be prohibited. Although thanks to modern building techniques and proper insulation, the gushing sound of sewage or shower water has become less of an issue these days. Although there is no particular paragraph in Swiss law restricting tenants from these things, the Swiss Homeowners' Society (HEV) leaves it open to the owner to set those rules.
Article 257f of the Swiss renters' law (OR) contains some generic language about considering others. It states that a tenant must be mindful of other tenants and neighbors, so draining a bathtub after 10 PM might be considered borderline...
3. Among the 408 official traffic laws, there are several weird ones when it comes to cars. For instance, it is unlawful to slam a car door after 10 PM. And if you switch from one time limited parking spot to another without entering traffic in between, you could get fined.
4. And if you forget to activate your parking break, you might get fined, too!
Paragraph 37 article 4 of the Swiss road law states that "A driver must appropriately secure their vehicle." In other words,
leaving a key inside an unlocked car forgetting to put it in gear and to activate a parking break on a slope is a no-no in the eyes of the law...
5. It is against the law for any man to unilaterally declare war on another country.
6. It is considered an offense to mow your lawn on a Sunday because it causes too much noise.
See #2 above.
7. Despite being a country of record recycling rates, you are not allowed to drop your empty bottles and cans into the public recycling bins on Sunday.
See #2 above.
8. It is illegal to ski down a mountain while reciting poetry.
Now this one sounds plausible, right? But probably not quite a law, either...
9. It is required that every car with snow tires has to have a sticker on its dashboard which tells that the driver should not drive faster than 160 km/h with these tires.
10. Clothes may not be hung to dry on Sunday.
Because who wants to see white socks waving in the wind during their Sunday stroll?
11. You may not wash your car on a Sunday.
Washing a car on Sunday in a car-wash is no problem. In fact, some car washes are so remote that nobody would even notice!
However, it becomes a problem when someone decides to wash a car in their driveway - on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday... You get the picture! Local Swiss laws prohibit the use of a power washer altogether, and there is concern that the detergent would pollute the ground water and thus the environment.
Update: Check out our list of 10 Strangely Legal Things in Switzerland!
Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.
Latest posts by Dimitri (see all)
- Our stay at Hotel Villa Orselina was 100 percent pure bliss - May 24, 2017
- 8 unique traditions you’ll not find outside of Switzerland - May 8, 2017
- These pictures prove that spring in Ticino is the best - April 24, 2017