The "Graciosa" container boat on the Rhine
Switzerland enjoys freedom of navigation on the Rhine.

Switzerland has a maritime commercial fleet, under the responsibility of the Swiss Maritime Navigation Office (SMNO) of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). The SMNO, based in Basel, also maintains the register of all Swiss ocean-going yachts and small boats.

Switzerland enjoys freedom of navigation on the Rhine and its tributaries and, thus, duty-free access to the sea. Switzerland is a member of the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR), headquartered in Strasbourg.

Swiss Maritime Navigation Office (SMNO)

The right to commandeer ships

If need arises, the Confederation may commandeer Swiss commercial ships to ensure the country's economic needs. It was for this reason that the Swiss maritime fleet was established in 1941.

Indeed, ensuring the country's supply of essential goods in time of crisis or conflict is still why a merchant fleet operates under the Swiss flag, although these ships are privately-owned and used according to market needs in peace time.

Last update 26.01.2022


FDFA Swiss Maritime Navigation Office - SMNO

Elisabethenstrasse 33
4010 Basel


+41 58 467 11 20

FDFA/PSD, Science, Transport and Space Section

Bundesgasse 28
3003 Bern


+41 58 463 43 75

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