Importing a Car into Switzerland


Basic Info:

We have not yet discovered a link that will provide up-to-date information about importing a vehicle into Switzerland; however the text below was recently obtained from the Swiss authorities:

At the end of this text there is a word or two about importing American cars into Switzerland.

Below there is also new (Jan 98) information on importing a car with Diplomatic Status.


Leaflet from Directorate General of Swiss Customs - dated January 1996 - (Form 15.50 12/95)

ZOLL - DOUANE - DOGANA

REGULATIONS REGARDING THE IMPORTATION INTO SWITZERLAND OF PRIVATE MOTOR VEHICLES AND TRAILERS lN ROAD TRAFFIC

1. Obligation to enter for customs clearance

A person who imports an uncleared vehicle into Switzerland is obliged, without a reminder, to enter it for customs clearance at the frontier.

2. Customs clearance on importation

Normally, import duties are to be paid at the frontier. If clearance is desired at an inland customs office, the frontier customs office will issue a certificate (form. 15.25) with a validity of two days. The customs clearance must take place during the ordinary opening time (in principle Monday - Friday: 8 -12 and 14-17; Saturday: 8 -12).

For the clearance the following documents must be shown to the Customs office:

- the invoice or contract of sale

- the registration card. In addition, for vehicles with German plates the 'Kraftfahrzeugbrief, and for vehicles with Italian plates the 'Foglio complementare'

- a proof of identity (Passport, identity card, driver licence etc.)

- if the preferential rate is requested: the proof of origin for vehicles originating in EFT-Area (EU, EEA, EFTA) and countries with which Switzerland has concluded a Free-trade agreement; a Form A for vehicles originating in developing countries (cf. item 3.1).

3. Import duties and taxes

All duties and taxes are to be paid upon import clearance.

3.1 Customs duty (Rates, see paragraph 6)

The rates of duty are the same for used as for new vehicles. Vehicles manufactured in the EFT-Area (EU, EEA, EFTA), in a country with which Switzerland has concluded a Free-trade agreement or in a developing country and which comply with the rules of origin of the free trade agreements in question, are, on importation from one of these countries, admitted to a preferential rate or, if provided for, duty free. The application of preferential rates or of the duty-free assessment is to be asked for in the import declaration.

end of Page 1

Page 2

It will be granted by production of a proof of origin (EFT-Area; countries with which Switzerland has concluded a Free-trade agreement = declaration of origin from the exporter in the invoice or movement certificate EUR.1; developing countries = form A). Form A and EUR.1 must have been filled in by the foreign exporter and authenticated by the Customs authorities of the export country.

3.2 Value-added tax

The value-added tax is calculated on the value of the vehicle (plus customs duty) at the first place of destination in Switzerland. The rate is at present 6,5 %. The value is to be documented with the invoice or the bill of sale.

3.3 Taxes

For the weighing up a tax of 20 Fr. will be levied and one of 10 Fr. for the issue of the test report form 13.20A for the Road Traffic Office.

4. Special cases

4.1 Vehicles imported by foreign tourists. foreigners staying at health resorts, foreign commercial travellers, seasonal workers, short period residents

Such persons may use a vehicle duty-free in Switzerland so long as they are deemed, under Swiss law, to be non-Swiss residents.

No import formalities are to be observed; the vehicle may be imported without a permit.

Only if the stay lasts more than one year (more than 18 months for short residents), the entry customs office will issue to the driver against presentation of his registration card, a permit for duty-free use of the vehicle. Fee of 10 Fr.

4.2 Vehicles brought in by foreign workers (annual workers) and students (seasonal workers. see par. 4.1)

Such persons are permitted to use a vehicle duty-free for a period of two years from the date of first entry up to the commencement of the employment or study, even if, due to their activities in Switzerland, they also transfer their domicile to Switzerland.

Are to be shown to the Customs office: the Swiss residence permit, the registration card.

At the expiry of the two year period, the conditions of domicile of the holder of the vehicle are clarified and judged on the basis of the criteria laid down in Art. 23 and seq. of the Swiss Civil Code.

Where no transfer of domicile has occurred, which is, as a rule, the case in respect of students, the holder of the vehicle is permitted to continue using the uncleared vehicle. On the other hand, if the holder of the vehicle has transferred his domicile to Switzerland, he must either pay duty on the vehicle or export it definitively, provided that the conditions for duty-free admission as migrants' effects exist. In this case the procedure laid down in par. 4.3 below shall be applied.

end of Page 2

Page 3

4.3 Vehicles brought in by Swiss Citizens returning to Switzerland; vehicles brought in together with household goods by other persons removing into Switzerland

The vehicles are admitted duty-free as migrants' effects if the person concerned proves by means of the foreign vehicle registration document that he had used the vehicle abroad for a period of at least six months before transferring his domicile to Switzerland.

He will have to undertake, however, to continue using the passenger car himself for a period of one year and during this period not to dispose of it to a third party within the Swiss customs territory, either for valuable consideration or free of charge, without having first notified the customs authorities and paid the conditionally waived duties, the amount of which is then reduced in relation to the age of the vehicle.

Are to be shown to the Customs office: the registration card, the declaration / application form for migrant's effects form. 18.44 (available in the Swiss representations abroad or at the Customs offices). In addition, for vehicles with German plates the 'Kraftfahrzeugbrief' and for vehicles with Italian plates the 'Foglio complementare'.

If the vehicle has not been used abroad by the person concerned for period of at least six months, it is not regarded as migrants' effects for customs purposes. On the other hand, the holder of the vehicle is permitted to use it duty-free for a period of two years, provided that he will be gainfully employed in Switzerland. Persons not gainfully employed are granted this benefit only if they can prove that they transfer their domicile to Switzerland for a period not exceeding two years. In both cases, however, it is a condition that the person concerned uses the vehicle exclusively for private use. Before expiry of the permit, the vehicle must be definitively re-exported or customs cleared (see par. 3).

Are to be shown to the Customs office: the Swiss residence permit, the registration card.

4.4 Vehicles belonging to persons who have been staying abroad for a period of at least one Year without transfer of domicile

The vehicles are admitted duty-free as migrants' effects, if the holder proves, by means of the vehicle registration document, that he had used the vehicle abroad for a period of at least six months before his return to Switzerland.

He will have to undertake to continue using the vehicle himself for a period of one year and during this period not to dispose of it to a third party within the Swiss customs territory either for valuable consideration or free of charge, without having first notified the customs authorities and paid the conditionally waived duties, the amount of which is then reduced in relation to the age of the vehicle.

Are to be shown to the Customs office: the registration card, the declaration/ application form for migrants effects form. 18.44 (available in the Swiss representations abroad or at the Customs offices). In addition, for vehicles with German plates the 'Kraftfahrzeugbrief' and for vehicles with Italian plates the 'Foglio complementare'.

If the vehicle has not been used abroad by the holder for a period of at least six months, import duties will have to be paid (see par. 3).

end of Page 3

Page 4

4.5 Vehicles belonging to emigrants

Such persons are permitted to use, for a period of three months, an uncleared vehicle which they purchase in Switzerland prior to the transfer of domicile to abroad.

4.6 Vehicles imported by persons domiciled abroad for staying in Switzerland

Persons domiciled abroad in the meaning of Swiss law are entitled to import in Switzerland an uncleared vehicle in order to use it personally for their own purposes and to stay it there for a pre-determined period which does not exceed three years. In such a case, the border customs office shall issue an authorization form. 15.30 for the use (stay) of the vehicle in Switzerland (fee of 10 Fr.). Before expiry of the authorization, the vehicle must be definitively re-exported or customs cleared (see par. 3).

Are to be shown to the Customs office: the proof of residence, the registration card.

If the vehicle is intended to stay in Switzerland for an undetermined period or for more than 3 years, it is to be declared to the border customs office, already on the first entry, for definitive customs clearance (see par. 3).

5. Questions regarding licence plates

5.1 With what plates can an uncleared vehicle be brought in?

Three possibilities exist:

- importation with the foreign license plates;

- importation with Swiss interim plate;

- importation with Swiss commercial plates through an authorized person. The question whether these plates may be used abroad is governed by the law of the foreign country concerned. Information may be obtained from the foreign competent authorities.

5.2 For what length of period may a vehicle be used in Switzerland with foreign licence plates and registration papers?

Foreign motor vehicles and trailers must be provided with Swiss vehicle registration certificates and Swiss license plates:

a) if they have been located in Switzerland for more than one year without interruption of more than three consecutive months **2);

b) if the holder has been staying in Switzerland for more than one year without interruption of more than three consecutive months and he has been using the vehicle here for more than one month;

** 2) Information in this respect can be obtained from the cantonal offices for road traffic

end of page 4

Page 5

c) if the holder with domicile in Switzerland has been staying abroad for less than 12 consecutive months and he has been using the vehicle here for more than one month;

d) if they are not or no longer entitled to drive in the country of registration or if the period of validity of the foreign driving license or the international certificate for motor vehicle or the license plates has expired.

A condition for the application of these periods is, however, that foreign licence plates and registration papers show a corresponding period of validity.

For the registration in Switzerland, the vehicles have to meet the Swiss provisions governing their construction and equipment. For the vehicles imported after the 1.10.1995 the conformity with these provisions (noise, exhaust gas, etc.) can be proved by means of a conformity certificate of the EC. In this case the technical examination of the vehicle can be waived; only a function check of the main equipments (steering, brakes, lighting etc.) will be carried out. The vehicles already registered abroad are governed by the Swiss regulations which were in force in times of their first registration. Information about the admission regulations and the documents to be shown can be obtained from cantonal offices for road traffic.

5.3 When the foreign driver's license must be substituted for a Swiss driver's license?

The foreign car driver has to apply for a Swiss driver's license if:

a) he has been staying in Switzerland for twelve months without staying abroad for more than 3 consecutive months **1);

b) he is working as professional driver of motor vehicles registered in Switzerland and requiring a driver's license of the categories C, D or D1;

c) the validity time limit of the foreign driver's license has expired.

The Swiss driver's license is delivered to the holder of a valid foreign national license for the same category of vehicles if he proves, through a driving examination, that he is acquainted with the driving regulations and he is able to drive safely vehicles of the categories for which the license should be valid.

The motor vehicle drivers have to pass the driving examination using a vehicle of the category allowing him to drive all vehicles of the categories mentioned in the license. If the holder of a license is furthermore entitled to drive motorcycles a driving examination will not be required for this category.

The Swiss driver's license allowing to drive professionally motor vehicles is delivered to foreign drivers only when, regardless of the driving examination, they prove through a theoretical examination to be acquainted with the regulations applicable in Switzerland to such drivers.

**1) Special provisions apply to short period residents

end of page 5

Page 6

The driver's licenses issued in the EU and the EFTA-countries or in certain other States **2) entitle the holder to obtain the Swiss driver's license without prior driving examination nor a theoretical examination.

While delivering a Swiss driver's license the Authorities withdraw the license issued in the EU or EFTA States and send it back to the issuing authority. In the license delivered by other States they write down that they are not valid in Switzerland. The content of foreign licenses is to be recorded.

**2) Information in this respect can be obtained from the cantonal offices for road traffic.

end of page 6

Pages 7-8-9-10 (tables combined in one)

    Tariff No Preferential Normal
      Rate Rate
6.10 Motorcycles      
  Motorcycles (including mopeds) and cycles fitted with an auxiliary motor, with or without side-cars: side-cars: 8711 Fr Fr
  With reciprocating internal combustion piston engine of a cylinder capacity not exceeding 50 cc 1000 0 43.60
  With reciprocating internal combustion piston engine of a cylinder capacity exceeding 50 cc but not exceeding 250 cc 2000 0 43.60
  With reciprocating internal combustion piston engine of a cyl capacity exceeding 250 cc but not exceeding 500 cc 3000 0 43.60
  With reciprocating internal combustion piston engine of a cyl capacity exceeding 500 cc but not exceeding 800 cc 4000 0 43.60
  With reciprocating internal combustion piston engine of a cylinder capacity exceeding 800 cc 5000 0 43.60
  Other 9000 0 43.60
         
6.20 Motorcars      
  Motorcars and other vehicles principally designed for thetransport of persons including station wagons and racing cars. 8703 Fr Fr
  Vehicles specially designed for travelling on snow; golf cars and similar vehicles 1000 53.00 65.00
  Other vehicles, with spark ignition internal combustion reciprocating piston engine:      
  Of a cylinder capacity not exceeding 1,000 cc 2100 53.00 65.00
  Of a cylinder capacity not exceeding 1,000 cc but not exceeding 1,500 cc

22

53.00

65.00

  Of a cylinder capacity exceeding 1,500 cc but not exceeding 3,000 cc      
       
  ***1200 kg or less 2310 53.00 65.00
  *** Over 1200Kg upto 1600 kg 2320 67.00 81.00
  *** Over 1600 kg 2330 81.00 96.00
  Of a cylinder capacity exceeding 3,000 cc      
  *** 1600 kg or less 2410 67.00 81.00
  *** Over 1600 kg 2420 81.00 96.00
         
  Other vehicles with compression ignition internal combustion engine (diesel or semi diesel):      
  Of a cylinder capacity not exceeding 1,500 cc 3100 53.00 65.00
  Of a cylinder capacity exceeding 1,500 cc but not exceeding 2,500 cc:      
       
  ***1200 kg or less 3210 53.00 65.00
  *** over 1200 kg up to 1600 kg 3220 67.00 81.00
  *** over 1600 kg 3230 81.00 96.00
  Of a cylinder capacity exceeding 2,500 cc      
  ***1600 kg or less 3310 67.00 81.00
  *** over 1600 kg 3320 81.00 96.00
  Other:      
  *** 1200 kg or less 9010 53.00 65.00
  *** over 1200 kg up to 1600 kg 9020 67.00 81.00
  *** over 1600 kg 9030 81.00 96.00
         
6.30 Trailers      
  Trailers and semi-trailers: 8716 Fr Fr
  Trailers of caravan type, for housing / camping 1000 0.00 22.60
  Trailers for the transport of goods:      
  *** Tanker trailers 3100 0.00 14.40
  *** Other 3900 0.00 14.40
  Other trailers 4000 0.00 14.40
         
  Information can be obtained at the:      
  - District Directorate, Basel tel. 061/287 11 11
  - District Directorate, Schaffhausen   053/ 83 11 11
  - Investigabon office, Zurich   01 /298 10 33
  - DistrictDirectorate,Lugano   091/ 284811
  - District Directorate, Geneva   022/818 42 42
  and from any main Customs Office..      
Jan. 1996 DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF SWISS CUSTOMS      
         
1) European Free-trade area (EU, EEA, EFTA), developing countries, Turkey, Republic Czech, Republic Slovak, Israel, Poland, Bulgana, Romania, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania

2) other States


Importing American Vehicles into Switzerland

Successful discussions between officials from US Embassy, Bern and the Swiss Federal Office for Police Matters have led to new procedures which will greatly facilitate the importation of American - made cars, sport-utility vehicles and mini-vans.

After the car arrives in Switzerland, the sole testing requirement is a noise test, which can be performed at one of four testing stations in the cantons of Zurich, Vaud, Geneva, and Ticino, for Sfr 240. For model year 1995 and thereafter, the EPA label on all US-manufactured passenger cars will satisfy Swiss exhaust emission standards, with the exception of some vehicles that bear the EPA light-duty truck label. These are classified under the most stringent Swiss and EU exhaust emission standards. Parking lights and turning signals, should conform to Swiss standards, the speedometer must indicate Km/Hr, tires should conform to the top speed of the vehicle, and windshields must be laminated. The owner is also responsible for providing certain data on the engine and dimensions of the car. Apart from these requirements, no additional testing is required.

In October, 1995, legislation was passed that enabled EU approved vehicles to be more easily imported into Switzerland for both personal use and public sale, with no further testing or special procedures other than the normal roadworthiness inspection. In response, the US Embassy began discussions with the Swiss to secure the same unfettered market access for US-made automobiles. After several discussions, including some involving representatives of the US auto manufacturers, an agreement was reached easing provisions for direct import of US manufactured/standard automobiles by private persons residing in Switzerland. Under the new regulations, it will be much easier for a Swiss citizen or resident to import a US-manufactured car.


Importing a car with Diplomatic Status.

1. Upon arrival, a request has to be immediately made for diplomatic plates. Nothing else can be done until the plates are obtained.

2. When the car is cleared through Swiss customs, the Swiss customs officials will provide you with a "numéro de matricule" which is required to obtain car insurance and to make an appointment for a technical inspection (point below).

3. The next step is to make an appointment for a technical inspection. Depending on how busy the "automobile services" department is, this could take between one to three weeks. Luckily, I was able to secure an appointment within a week.

4. The "automobile services" department will provide you with the diplomatic plates at the same time as the technical inspection.

5. For new vehicles, there is no problem in passing the technical inspection. The technical inspection takes about 40 minutes.

6. The cost for the diplomatic plates and the technical inspection is 305 Swiss Francs, cash only.

7. I didn't particularly find the process that straightforward, although it was much easier for me since I had somebody at the Mission help me along the way.

8. From the time you arrive in Geneva, it would take you about 3-4 weeks before getting your vehicle, assuming of course everything goes well.

9. People with diplomatic status should also apply for a gas card as soon as possible. This can only be done once you receive the plate numbers from the Swiss authorities. It takes 2-3 weeks to get the card. The gas card offers you a 60% savings over the listed prices which are very expensive. Gasoline here is 1.17 Swiss Francs a litre.

10. With regard to car insurance. I dealt with "Winterthur" and the agent's name is Régis Anderegg and his number is 722-1108. I found him to be very helpful and cordial.



Copyright © Mission and Project Support / Société d'appui aux missions et projets - 1996 - 2007