The regulations and formalities depend on whether you wish to:
Permanently importing into Switzerland
Information on this can be found at Permanent importation into Switzerland.
Using an uncleared vehicle temporarily in Switzerland
Whether you may use an uncleared vehicle in Switzerland depends, among other things, on the purpose for which you intend to use the vehicle and whether you are resident or headquartered in Switzerland or abroad.
Ban on inland transport (cabotage)
Inland transport is when you:
- Both pick up and drop off individuals within Switzerland and a fee is paid for their carriage in any form. The amount paid and who pays it is not decisive;
- Accept/load/hitch goods within the context of an economic activity in Switzerland, as well as drop them off/unload/unhitch them.
In principle, you may not use an uncleared vehicle for inland transport within Switzerland. You must spontaneously declare any such vehicle(s) for permanent importation to the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security at the border. Special regulations only apply in a few cases.
Swiss customs may authorise the use of an uncleared vehicle for inland transport if the applicant proves that:
- no corresponding cleared vehicles are available and the uncleared vehicle is only to be used for a short period of time; or
- the uncleared vehicle is to be used for test purposes.
You must apply for an exemption permit in good time at the relevant District Directorate of Customs.
Further information can be found in the following fact sheet:
Fact sheet 18.98 Inland transport (cabotage) in commercial goods traffic (PDF, 198 kB, 01.01.2022)
Companies with registered office in Switzerland
In principle, you may not use an uncleared vehicle in Switzerland. You must spontaneously declare any uncleared vehicle(s) for permanent importation to the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security at the border. Special regulations only apply in a few cases.
For this, you have to apply for a so-called customs declaration for temporary admission (ZAVV) at a customs office responsible for commercial goods. You have to pay a deposit for the import duties. With a ZAVV for 12 cross-border journeys, you may enter Switzerland with the vehicle 12 times a year. Inland transport is prohibited. You must return the vehicle abroad as soon as the cross-border transport for which it was imported has ended. You must have each border crossing confirmed at the customs office.
You may use an uncleared goods trailer/semi-trailer which is authorised for road transport for cross-border transport if it is towed by a cleared towing vehicle. You may cross the border with the uncleared goods trailer informally (i.e. without customs formalities). Inland transport is prohibited. You must re-export the goods trailer as soon as the transport for which it was imported has ended.
Companies with registered office abroad
You may use an uncleared vehicle only for a limited period of time and only for cross-border transport in Switzerland. You must return the vehicle abroad as soon as the transport for which it was imported has ended.
General information on the temporary use of goods can be found under Temporary importation.
Information on repairing, converting and enhancing an uncleared vehicle can be found under Processing traffic.
If you use an uncleared vehicle in Switzerland without authorisation or do not comply with formalities, you must pay the import duties for the vehicle (customs duty, automobile duty, value added tax) retroactively. In addition, you must be prepared for criminal customs proceedings to be initiated.