Duty-free movement of goods
There are numerous goods that can be imported or exported duty free.
Items that serve as samples before ordering. They may be imported duty-free if they have no intrinsic value (possibly rendered unusable). Or because they are imported to be presented, analysed and tested. Their value does not exceed CHF 100 per product type.
Samples may not be sold.
Products imported to check their quality, composition or properties. In order to be imported duty free, samples may not be intended for consumption.
Distinction is made between two types of returned goods:
- Domestic returned goods
may be re-imported duty-free provided that they are declared on export and re-imported unchanged.
These can, for example, be goods that were delivered incorrectly and were not accepted by the recipient abroad.
- Foreign returned goods
do not belong to the effective duty-free category. However, import duties may be refunded if the goods are returned to the consignor abroad within three years due to refusal of acceptance, cancellation of the contract or unsaleability due to a defect or damage.
For products that cannot be released into free customs traffic under current legislation, a refund may also be claimed in case of re-export.
This mainly concerns foreign mail-order companies such as Tchibo or Zalando, who deliver goods form third countries to Switzerland and want to resend them abroad due to returns.
Goods for non-profit organisations and relief organisations
Import duty exemption is granted for practically all products which are not intended for sale. These are mainly donations made by a person living abroad, either directly to the people in need or to the victims of natural disasters or through a relief organisation. Donations must be commensurate with the degree of need or damage suffered.
Donated goods which are intended for sale in Switzerland and only the sales revenue goes to the people in need are subject to tax.
Art and exhibition objects
Works of art intended for public display may be imported duty-free if the recipient commits himself not to release them for free circulation in Switzerland without paying the relevant duties first. Duty-free import must be applied for in writing to the responsible customs district directorate before importation..
Art and exhibition objects that are imported for a limited period of time, e.g. for an exhibition, are generally subject to the procedure of temporary admission. If, on the other hand, the objects are intended for long-term temporary use – lasting several years – they can be imported duty-free. However, the recipient must give a written commitment not to resell the goods in Switzerland.
All items intended for the official use of embassies, consulates, international organisations and missions as well as for the personal use of members with diplomatic status of representations and organisations are be exempt from duty.
Household effects, wedding trousseaux and inherited property
The duty-free import of household effects (relocation), wedding trousseaux (marriage) and inherited property must be applied for.
The prerequisite for duty-free household effects when moving from abroad to Switzerland is that the items must have been used by you personally for at least 6 months and continue to be used after importation. When importing, the completed application form must be presented to the Swiss customs office.
Private traffic and tourist traffic
The allowances and duty-free limits apply to goods in tourist traffic which are imported for personal use or as gifts. These allowances and duty-limits are granted only once per person and day. The current allowances and duty-free limits can be found on the FCA website.