Customs in Switzerland: VAT application

What steps is Swiss Customs taking to ensure that VAT application procedures for goods and services imported into Switzerland are as smooth as possible and that the required information is provided?

All of the following is the Swiss government’s response to a question raised at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Shipments imported into Switzerland must be declared to customs electronically.

It makes no difference whether the imported goods were purchased on a platform or not.

The only difference is that, in the future, the platform will have to be mentioned as being responsible for the payment of the import tax in the customs declaration.

Contrary to what has been applied in several countries and in the European Union, the payment of a VAT at the point of sale will not replace the payment of an import tax at the border.

Nor will the tax exemption for small value goods (goods for which the import tax does not exceed CHF 5) be abolished.

In addition, platforms will have the possibility to use the transfer procedure and declare the import tax to the Federal Tax Administration -electronically and in their standard VAT returns- , instead of paying it to the Federal Office of Customs and Border Security (FOCBS).

However, in order for the FOCBS to authorize the use of this procedure, the authorization number of the platform must be mentioned on the customs declaration.


In Switzerland, the customs authorities are not directly involved in the preparation of the customs declaration.

It is usually the persons transporting the goods who have to fill it in (e.g. postal services or companies such as DHL or Fedex).

The shipper already provides the transport service provider with information about the contents and value of a shipment and which person is to be considered the importer, as far as VAT is concerned.

Nothing will change in this respect with the entry into force of the revised law.

In the customs declaration, the customs declarant will only have to indicate the platform as the person liable to pay the import tax, in addition to the authorization number that enables the platform to use the transfer procedure.

The administration assumes that the parties involved will find the best possible way to transmit the necessary information directly to each other.

Considering that these processes are already well established, the authorities should not interfere in this matter or establish rules that would make the processes run less smoothly.


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