Import/Export in the European Union

Import/Export in Switzerland and the European Union (EU) is regulated by a free trade agreement. This agreement was complemented by Bilaterals I and II in 1999 and 2004.

The free trade agreements entered into between Switzerland and the EU allow Swiss companies to import and export certain industrial products without customs duties. The import/export of agricultural products is the subject of several bilateral agreements.

The Free Trade Agreement between Switzerland and the European Union

The Free Trade Agreement entered into in 1972 between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Switzerland forms part, and the European Economic Community (EEC) allows Swiss companies to import and export, duty-free, certain industrial products from and into the EU.

Only goods satisfying the conditions of origin within the meaning of the Agreement and which are accompanied by a movement certificate for goods are concerned. So a product manufactured in China, imported into France then resold in Switzerland by the French supplier will be liable to customs duties at the time of its import into Switzerland.

Bilateral agreements on agricultural products

Agricultural products are excluded from the 1972 Free Trade Agreement between Switzerland and the EU. Their exchanges, however, are facilitated by the Agreement of June 21, 1999, signed in the context of Bilaterals I. This agreement provides in particular for:

  • Import quotas and removal of customs duties, mainly in the cheese, fruit and vegetable, horticulture and specialist meats and wines sectors.
  • The removal of technical barriers (non-tariff barriers) to trade for several groups of products, including wines and spirits, organic agriculture, plant protection, animal feed, foodstuffs of animal origin and seeds. Veterinary checks at borders were also abolished in 2009.

Free Trade Agreement on processed agricultural products

The tariff treatment of processed agricultural products like chocolate or coffee is regulated by Protocol No. 2 to the 1972 Free Trade Agreement between Switzerland and the EU. Protocol No. 2 removes customs duties for a large number of these products. For more information about this, please refer to the text of the Agreement.

Agreement on simplification and customs security

On January 1, 2011, the EU introduced a provision stating that imports and exports of goods with non-Member States must be declared in advance (the 24 hour rule) for security reasons. However, thanks to the revision of the agreement on simplification and customs security of 1990, Swiss companies are not required to follow these new rules. 

Help and information

A wealth of information about trade relations between Switzerland and the European Union is available on the websites of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE).


Last modification 27.02.2020

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