Customs regulations of Switzerland

General rules

The general principle of Swiss customs taxation is quite unusual. Switzerland is one of the few countries in the world to levy import duties based on weight, volume or number of units. There are no restrictions regarding the import or export of Swiss and foreign banknotes. On duty-free and tax-free items, you have a daily allowance of CHF 300.– worth of goods purchased abroad per person for your personal use. For this, a child is treated in the same way as an adult. If the total value of goods exceeds CHF 300.–, then all goods become taxable. This limit is not cumulative for people traveling together, so you will have to pay duty on a new television worth CHF 400.– even if there are two of you crossing the border together. In this duty-free and tax-free allowance, you can include the quantity of special items listed below.

Alcoholic beverages (minimum age 17):

With an alcohol content by volume under 18%: 5 litres With an alcohol content by volume over 18%: 1 litre

Tobacco (minimum age 17):

250 cigarettes or 250 cigars or 250 grams of other tobacco products

Meat (only within the free value limit of CHF 300.–):

Any type of meat, fresh, frozen, salted, dried, smoked, fish or game is limited to one kilo per day and person. Duty per additional kilo is CHF 17.–.

If you plan to bring in several bottles of wine, it is worth noting that customs duty rises according to how much you import. Up to 20 liters, the duty is CHF 2.00 per liter, but each additional liter costs a further CHF 3.–.

Keep your sales receipts, as they can be requested to prove the place of origin and the price you paid. Also, keep your customs declarations in the event that they are required for verification. Remember that the CHF 300.– limit includes everything, even car repairs made outside Switzerland.

More information: www.ezv.admin.ch

Household effects

Fortunately, for household goods there is a different rule. If you import your own possessions and articles – which you have owned and personally used for at least 6 months prior to your change of residence – and you do not intend to sell them in Switzerland, their import into Switzerland is duty-free and tax-free. Of course the moving of your household and importation of goods into Switzerland must take place within a reasonable period after the change of residence.

In order to import your goods duty-free into Switzerland you will have to present the following documents to the Swiss customs office:

  • a list of the goods to be imported; articles which do not fulfill the conditions for duty-free clearance should be itemized at the end of the list as «goods for normal customs clearance»
  • the Swiss residence permit or assurance of a residence permit (for foreign immigrants coming to Switzerland)
  • proof that a house or an apartment has been purchased or rented or evidence that this is available the Swiss customs application form 18.44

Please note that subsequent shipments are possible, but they have to be declared with the inventory when importing the first shipment. Detailed provisions and Swiss customs application form 18.44 can be found online under: www.ezv.admin.ch

Please be aware that for goods which do not fulfill the provisions, import duties and VAT have to be paid.


A cat, dog or bird can be imported or re-imported if you are able to show a certificate proving that it was vaccinated against rabies not fewer than 30 days and not more than 360 days before moving. Dogs younger than 5 months cannot be imported if they have their tail and/or ears cropped. If you import more than 3 pets at the same time, a check-up at the vet‘s before leaving may be necessary. For all other animals, please contact the Swiss customs authorities. In all probabi- lity, an import license and a sanitary check will be required.

Motor vehicles

Cars, boats, aircrafts etc. can be imported with their foreign registration cards and foreign plates. To be considered as part of your removal goods (and therefore duty and tax-free) a motor vehicle must have been in your possession for at least 6 months before the move. The foreign registration card will have to be presented with the application form 18.44 to a Swiss customs office (see also details under Point 2.1.2). In addition to this, you will have to sign a declaration stating that you do not intend to sell your vehicle for the next year. If you decide to sell the vehicle within the 12-month period, or if you have owned the vehicle for fewer than 6 months, the import will be treated as a «standard» import, and then import duties, VAT and taxes will be levied.

Alcoholic beverages

Included in the moval goods, you can import tax-free a quantity of alcoholic beverage that is estimated reasonable and appropriate to your lifestyle. By this, the Swiss Customs Authorities mean up to 200 liters of wine or beer per person. Otherwise, the usual duties and taxes will be levied, which can be quite high.

For strong liquor (over 25% alcohol), the maximum quantity that can be imported duty-free is 12 liters, and for more, heavy duties and taxes will be levied.

Plants and fruits

A number of ornamental, aromatic and medicinal plants can be imported without a phyto-sanitary examination (the list can be found on the website of the Swiss Customs Authorities) – up to 20 kg per person per day. For other plants, fruits and vegetables, phyto-sanitary inspections are required, and the import of many overseas plants is forbidden. For precise information, contact the Swiss Customs Authorities.

Arms and ammunition

All arms, weapons and ammunition as well as their parts must be declared with Swiss customs during import, export or transit. When you are preparing to move, it is strongly advisable to check with customs on what you plan to import.

Some weapons and their parts are forbidden and will not be allowed into Swiss territory.

If you need more detailed information, the website of the Swiss Customs Authorities is very useful:www.ezv.admin.ch

Source: The Swiss Institute of Management and Innovation

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