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Importing a Vehicle

Switzerland - Importing a Vehicle

Importing a car or other vehicle into Switzerland will involve border customs clearance. With vehicles, as with other possessions, the six month rule applies, i.e. if your vehicle is newer than six months old it will become subject to Swiss sales tax (VAT) and customs duty. Provided you have had your vehicle longer than six months and it forms part of your personal effects that you are bringing to Switzerland as part of your move, you can claim exemption to these taxes. Under the Freedom of Movement Legislation applicable to EU/EFTA you can also import a vehicle from one of the EU/EFTA member states without paying duty. You will need to provide proof of origin from the seller at time of import. Taxes will still apply.

Your vehicle must be registered at time of import. In order to do this, you will be required to report to a border customs office during opening hours. Clearance hours typically are during the working day Monday to Friday, and in certain offices also Saturday morning. The customs office will be willing to issue you with a temporary licence Form 15.25 if you wish to delay full registration until you reach a customs office close to your final destination. This permit is free of charge and will be valid for 2 days. When you report to the border customs office, be sure to have the vehicle registration document, the purchase agreement or invoice to show the car's value, plus your own identity documents. You will also need to complete the import declaration form.

If your vehicle is not exempt from customs duty you will be charged according to the vehicle's cubic capacity and weight. This will be between CHF 12-15 per 100kg for a car and a flat rate of CHF 37 per 100kg for a motorbike. Cars and larger four-wheel motor vehicles also attract motor tax at a rate of 4% of the vehicle's value, but motorbikes are exempt. Finally, the value of the vehicle, any customs duty, plus taxes will be added together and VAT will be charged to the sum at a rate of 8%. Once your vehicle has cleared customs you will need to pay the customs office an additional CHF 20 and will be issued with a stamped inspection report form 13.20A.

A tax sticker known as a vignette is required to drive on Switzerland's motorways and you will be required to pay a large fine if you enter the country and are seen driving on a motorway without this attached. The border police sell vignettes so you will have no difficulty in obtaining this at point of entry. The vignette must be applied to cars, motorcycles and motorhomes. If you have a large motorhome (RV) that exceeds the 3.5 metric tonne limit, or a lorry (truck) you will have to pay extra tax under the heavy vehicle taxation. You will be expected to purchase a separate vignette for your caravan or trailer. Take care with motorcycles and trailers that the vignette can be seen and is not affixed to a part that can be easily stolen.

Once you are settled in your new accommodation, you will need to visit your cantonal vehicle licensing office to begin the process of matriculating your vehicle or trailer. The ASA (F: Association des services des automobiles, G: Vereinigung der Strassenverkehrsämter) website listed below contains the addresses of each office. On your first visit to the vehicle licensing office you will make an appointment to have an official technical inspection (MFK) carried out on your car or other vehicle. At this point you will be issued with the Stammnummer which is a unique identification number for your vehicle. You can use this to apply for Swiss motor insurance.

A month before the technical inspection, you will need to visit the licensing office with the foreign vehicle licence, the Form 13.20A that you purchased from customs on entry (they will keep this so ask for a copy), the exhaust test document (Abgaswartungsdokument AWD) and an insurance certificate from a Swiss motor insurer. You will also need your customs declaration form showing that the vehicle formed part of your personal effects on immigrating. The technical inspection will ensure that your vehicle satisfies Swiss standards for being road worthy, much like the British MOT. Allow from CHF 100-150 for the MFK. It is advisable to clean the engine bay beforehand and you will also need to have a garage conduct a vehicle exhaust emissions test.

Once your car has passed the MFK you will be issued with Swiss plates and at the same time will be required to surrender your foreign plates which will be returned by the vehicle licensing office to their counterpart abroad, e.g. the DVLA in the UK. You may need to buy licence plate holders for the plates to fit your car.

You have up to a year to complete the process (providing you have owned the car for over six months before arrival) and during this time can legally drive using foreign licence plates. Until matriculation is complete you will not be allowed to let anyone else borrow or rent your car, nor can you sell it. Note that this one-year interim period does not apply if you bought the car in a country in which you were not resident for over a year. In this case you have only one month during which you will be permitted to drive it on foreign plates and after that time will either have had to have matriculated your vehicle or take it off the road and hand in the plates.

If you are British, you may be tempted to import your car for use in Switzerland but, unless you intend to later return with it to Britain, you should consider carefully whether this will be worthwhile. You will find it extremely difficult to sell your right-hand drive car in continental Europe, and may have difficulties with repairs and maintenance, not to mention that it will make driving on the right awkward.

If you are importing a boat and have brought it across the border via water, you will need to report to one of Switzerland's customs landing sites which are located on the major border lakes (Geneva (Léman), Lugano, Constance (Konstanz), and Maggiore), and on the Rhine. Contact the Swiss Federal Customs Administration for more information on how to legally bring your boat into Swiss territory.

Useful Resources

ASA: Automobile Services
Contact directory for cantonal motor vehicle testing and licensing offices

Strassenverkehrsamt des Kantons Zürich
Motor vehicle authority for Zurich canton
Uetlibergstrasse 301, Postfach 8479, CH 8036 Zürich
Email: info@stva.zh.ch

Office cantonal des automobiles et de la navigation
Motor vehicle authority for Geneva canton
Case postale 1556, CH 1227 Carouge
Tel: +41 (0)22 388 30 30
Email: secretariat.san@etat.ge.ch

Swiss Insurance & Financial Advisors
Leaflet for the matriculation of foreign vehicles in Switzerland

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