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Customs and Import Duties

Switzerland - Customs and Import Duties

When crossing the Swiss border, it's important to be aware that certain limits are enforced. Goods to a value in excess of 300 Swiss Francs ordinarily become subject to import duties and must be declared, although cash is not restricted. However, provided you are moving to Switzerland you can claim exemption. This must be backed up by the correct paperwork, in most cases an Assurance of Residence Permit. Nationals of certain EU member states are allowed greater flexibility in this and can present alternative proof of intended residence such as a work contract. A completed application form 18.44 (Declaration/Application for Clearance of Household Effects) is required for clearing of goods regardless of country of origin and all administration is dealt with by the customs office at point of entry.

Personal possessions and household goods which are accepted as being associated with removals are those that have been in use for greater than six months in your previous home and that will be used by you in Switzerland. This includes your car, and pets are also granted exemption. Newer goods will attract import duties even if brought into Switzerland as part of a relocation. For this reason it is helpful to have receipts to hand as proof of purchase dates should any items be queried. An inventory list should also be compiled although this can be quite general and can be made on ordinary paper, no forms required. Goods subject to import duties should be detailed at the end of this inventory, along with their respective values.

Special provisions have to be made via the Federal Veterinary Office (Bundesamt für Veterinärwesen) for household goods made from animal skins or ivory. The Federal Police Office (Bundesamtes für Polizei) must be contacted if weapons are among your possessions. The weapons regulations also apply to replica and toy weapons where they bear sufficient resemblance to genuine ones. Certain antique weapons are not regulated to the same extent but it is advisable to take advice from the Federal Police Office with regard to antiques and decommissioned weapons.

The normal customs restrictions apply to other items. Alcohol is restricted to 1 litre if over 15% volume alcohol content, and 2 litres for below 15%. The maximum number of cigarettes allowable is 200. Pirated goods and media and forgeries of any kind are forbidden, regardless of intended use. Animal produce and meats are only permitted if originating from EU or European Free Trade Association member states. There are certain restrictions in place on plants and plant derivatives. The good news is that your house plants won't cause concern if brought in as part of your household effects and originating from elsewhere in the EU. The only exceptions are the shrubs Cotoneaster and the Photinia Fraseri which carry disease and cannot be brought into Switzerland. Phytosanitary certificates are required to import plants from non-European countries.

The exemption on personal effects can only be claimed within 18 months of relocating to Switzerland. Note that any items that are not formally declared under the removals exemption or that have not seen over six months of use prior to moving will be subject to import duties. These are variable rates that are applied according to the nature of the items and calculated on the weight of the goods. Additionally, the Swiss VAT (value-added tax) of 7.6% will be charged.

Most expats take care of customs clearance themselves rather than using an agent. Import agents generally are only employed for large freight imports or for certain international business transactions.

Useful Resources

Form 18.44 (Declaration/Application for Clearance of Household Effects) and Further Information

Federal Veterinary Office (FVO)
Address: Schwarzenburgstrasse 155, CH-3003 Berne
Tel: +41 (0)31 323 30 33
Email: info@bvet.admin.ch

Federal Office of Police (fedpol)
Address: Nussbaumstrasse 29, CH-3003 Berne
Tel: +41 (0)31 323 11 23
Email: Use contact form

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