Permanently importing into Switzerland

When importing vehicles into Switzerland, you must comply with certain formalities and pay various taxes and duties.


Customs declaration

Vehicles that you wish to import permanently into Switzerland must be spontaneously declared for import at a customs office responsible for merchandise.

Bring all supporting documents that are necessary for the assessment, e.g.:

  • Invoice and/or contract of sale
  • Vehicle/vessel registration document and/or registration certificate (even if already cancelled)
  • Proof of identity (passport, identity card)
  • Import customs declaration (e-dec declaration)
  • Proof of origin from seller if available 

Taxes and duties

Customs duties

Vehicles are subject to customs duties. Customs duties vary according to the type of vehicle and are calculated on the basis of its weight.


The rates of duty are the same for used and new vehicles.

Details of the customs duties can be found at Customs Tariff - Tares.

Vehicles originating from countries with which Switzerland has concluded a free trade agreement may be imported duty-free or at reduced rates (customs preference). For this you must present a valid proof of origin. Questions concerning the issuing of certificates of origin must be addressed to the authorities of the exporting country. Further information can be found here: Free trade agreements, origin


Automobile tax

The importation of passenger vehicles and certain light commercial vehicles is subject to the automobile tax. The rate amounts to 4% of the value of the vehicle. Further information can be found under Automobile tax


Value added tax on imports

You must pay value added tax (VAT) when importing a vehicle. The VAT for vehicles is 7.7%. The assessment basis is generally the consideration payable or paid for the vehicle in question. This includes the purchase price including the value of any exchange vehicles or other goods given in payment. The invoice or contract of sale forms the basis.

Otherwise, VAT is calculated on the market value, e.g. for gifts. The market value corresponds to the sum a buyer would have had to pay for the imported vehicle.

The assessment basis also includes all costs up to the destination in Switzerland (customs duties, automobile tax and fees).

Prices or value details in foreign currencies are converted into Swiss francs using the exchange rate (forex sell rate).

The customs office can estimate the value of the vehicle in the event of missing or questionable information.

Further information is available at Value Added Tax


CO2 penalty for passenger cars

You have to pay a penalty for certain passenger cars if they exceed a specific CO2 emission value. This penalty is not imposed by Swiss customs but by the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) (small importers) or the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) (large importers). Further information can be found at CO2 emissions from passenger vehicles (FEDRO) (only available in French and German). 


Payment of duties

In principle, you must pay the import duties directly to the customs office.

If you mandate a customs agency or a freight forwarding/logistics company to handle the customs formalities, they will usually pay the duties and then invoice you for them. We have no influence on the processing fees of such companies. Before importing, clarify who you would like to instruct to carry out the customs formalities. We cannot give you any recommendations in this regard. 


Proof of customs clearance and traffic licensing

The customs office will issue you with a proof of customs clearance for traffic licensing with the cantonal authorities. 


The issuing of a customs clearance certificate by the customs office costs CHF 20.

If you have any questions about traffic licensing (registration), it is best to contact the competent cantonal vehicle licensing office (road vehicles) or the competent cantonal water transportation office (watercraft). This applies in particular to questions concerning type approval, noise and exhaust regulations, construction and equipment of the vehicle as well as admission of leasing vehicles. 


Number plates for road vehicles

If you want to import vehicles from abroad on their own axles, in principle you must use foreign temporary number plates. Enquire with your exporting country or with your dealer about the possibilities for transfering your vehicle. 


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