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Regulations, guidelines and standards

Geologists are required to perform work according to professional standards that are defined in technical documentation, guidelines, acts and regulations.

Gavel, legal text
Technical documentation, directives, acts and ordinances

Clients and the general public expect perfect qualitative work from geologists. For that, they must know the current state of the science, working and research methods, laws, standards and directives.

This page provides links and content:

  • Technical documentation
    Instructions, implementation guides, directives, guidelines, practical assistance or basics
  • Acts and ordinances
    Federal and cantonal sets of rules, geotope protection and more links

The objectives to be achieved within the framework of geological services are set by federal and cantonal law. The overlapping areas include land-use planning, construction, energy, environmental and water protection, as well as coordination tasks. 

In order to prevent lasting damage to property and persons as well as to the environment, geological work must be planned and carried out according to recognized professional standards. In order to assess the feasibility of projects, it is particularly important that geological information and data relating to the subsoil be available in sufficient quantity and quality.

In contrast to surface surveying, however, the norms and standards applicable to the geological subsurface are still largely lacking in Switzerland, which does not guarantee a uniform documentation of the subsurface. This means that the required level of preliminary investigations can vary greatly from one region to another. 

In order to guide the work of professionals, the Federal Offices, in collaboration with the specialized cantonal services and representatives of the private and academic sectors, ensure that specialized documentation is regularly published and updated.

In addition to methodological and technical aspects, this documentation contributes to the clarification of unspecified legal concepts from laws and ordinances in order to guarantee a transparent application of the legislation.

An overview of the most important publications relevant to the provision of geological services in Switzerland is provided by subject area (non-exhaustive list).


The references mentioned below are published by the Federal Office for the Environment.

See also this link for comprehensive documentation on FOEN publications related to the water sector.

Natural hazards

The references mentioned below are published by the Federal Office for the Environment.

See also this link for comprehensive documentation on FOEN publications related to the natural hazards sector.

Works and infrastructures

The references mentioned below are published by the Federal Office for the Environment and the Federal Roads Office.

See also this link for access to FEDRO standards related to national roads (in particular geotechnicalenvironnemental and risk topics).


The references mentioned below are published by the Federal Office of Energy.


The references mentioned below are published by the Federal Office of Topography swisstopo.


Observations and information gathered during geological work constitute basic geodata under federal law. As such, this geodata must be described and structured in accordance with the technical specifications issued by the responsible Federal Offices:

SIA - Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects

The SIA, with its collection of widely applied standards, is at the origin of recognized and indispensable national rules for the art of building in Switzerland.

VSS - Swiss Association of Road and Transport Professionals

The VSS develops and manages the collection of Swiss standards in the field of road and transport.

CHGEOL - Swiss Association of Geologists

CHGEOL develops and publishes factsheets relevant to the profession of geology.

The federal government, in accordance with Art.3 of the Federal Constitution, can only act in those areas in which it has been assigned the relevant authority. There are only a few provisions on the federal level in the field of geology and the subsurface. Geological themes are mostly regulated at cantonal level and reflect the respective conditions and historical development.

However, following the approval of the Energy Strategy 2050 by the Swiss people on May 21, 2017, it was possible to clarify the regulatory framework regarding geological data on the subsurface in the revision of the National Geology Ordinance of January 1, 2018, in view of the growing interest in the subsurface for geothermal energy and CO2 storage projects.   


Classified Compilation of Acts and Ordinances

The portal of the Swiss Government provides a classified compilation of federal and international law, divided into chapters and topics.