“Swissness”: criteria explained

The new regulation on the use of the indication of “Swiss” provenance and the white cross on a red background by companies came into force in January 2017. Here is the process explained. 

“Swiss made” sells. Several studies have shown that the value-added generated by the Swiss brand can represent as much as 20% of the sale price for certain products – and as much as 50% for luxury items – compared to comparable goods from other origins. Services are also affected.

The value of the Swiss label is much coveted and misused, both nationally and internationally, which damages its credibility. To protect the value-added of the label for products made in Switzerland and the logo, a white cross on a red background, the criteria for their use have been clarified and their protection reinforced.

On June 21, 2013, the Swiss Parliament adopted the “Swissness” legislation. The law on trademark protection has been amended and the law on the protection of public coats of arms completely revised. On September 2, 2015, the implementing orders were drawn up the Federal Council. The new regulation entered into force on January 1, 2017.

Indication of “Swiss” provenance 

The following conditions now need to be met for a product or service to be considered Swiss (criteria for determining origin) and therefore designated as such:

  • Natural products (plants, mineral water, meat, etc.). Provenance is defined according to a single variable criterion depending on the product (e.g. the place of harvest for plant products).
  • Foodstuffs. At least 80% of the raw materials used must come from Switzerland. For milk and dairy products, 100% of the milk must be taken into account. In addition, the processing stage which confers on the product its essential characteristics (e.g. the processing of milk into cheese) must be carried out in Switzerland. There are some exceptions, notably for natural products which cannot be produced in Switzerland because of natural conditions (e.g. Cacao) or which are not available in sufficient quantity.
  • Other products, particularly industrial products. At least 60% of the cost price (including R&D costs) must be realized in Switzerland. The stage which confers on the product its essential characteristics takes place in Switzerland. There are exceptions here too: it is possible to exclude – under certain conditions – raw materials and semi-finished products which do not exist in Switzerland.
  • Services. The company's registered office must be in Switzerland and the company must actually be run from Switzerland.

Companies that do not satisfy the above-mentioned criteria have the option of developing certain production stages, on the condition that the specific activity in question takes part, in full, in Switzerland: for example, sausage “Smoked in Switzerland”, furniture “Designed in Switzerland”. Affixing of the Swiss cross is not allowed in these cases.

Special regulations for watches and cosmetics 

In some sectors, meeting additional requirements, such as observing manufacturing or processing principles, is considered a condition sine qua non for exact use of indications of Swiss provenance. Such additional requirements can form the subject of an industry order. 

Currently, the Federal Council has adopted two industry ordinances – one concerns watches, the other cosmetics. In connection with these two categories of products, indications of Swiss provenance or the Swiss cross can only be used if the additional requirements set out in these orders are satisfied.

Use of the Swiss cross 

It will now be possible to affix the Swiss cross on Swiss products, whereas this was only possible for services according to the old legislation. The conditions to be met are as follows:

  • Products: The white cross on a red background can be affixed to products that satisfy the criteria of indication of “Swiss” provenance.
  • Services: Use of the Swiss cross is authorized in connection with services that satisfy the criteria of indication of “Swiss” provenance.
  • Confederation coats of arms: The use of federal coats of arms (which consist of a Swiss cross placed inside a triangular escutcheon) is reserved for public authorities. Private companies are no longer allowed to use them, unless they obtain special authorization.
  • Special bans: Use of the Swiss cross is not authorized in order to suggest alleged relations with the Confederation. The Swiss cross can no longer be affixed on certain goods and services (in the medical sector in particular) if it might be confused with the logo of the Red Cross.


Last modification 01.07.2022

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