Customs clearance on import

Customs clearance procedures are followed using e-dec, a system enabling its user to declare goods intended for import, export or transit online.

Note: the use of electronic assessment decisions (DTe) is mandatory since March 2018

With a view to applying the Confederation’s e-government strategy, the Swiss Federal Customs Administration (FCA) has made electronic assessment decisions (DTe) through the e-dec customs clearance system mandatory in March 2018. Find out more here

In the case of final importation, goods are declared using the e-dec online declaration system provided by the Swiss Federal Customs Administration (FCA)

Once the information is submitted, the customs computer system decides which consignments are immediately released and which consignments are to be subject to additional customs controls (formal or material verification) based on criteria defined by the FCA. In principle, the declaration is prepared before the goods move to customs.

Tax-free imports

Some goods can be tax-free. These include samples, prototypes, returned goods, goods intended for welfare institutions or charity works, or artworks and exhibition items. Most of these are also exempt from VAT. The VAT Act (RS 641.20; Art. 53) defines the terms and conditions of exemption. These goods must be subject to a customs declaration, sometimes using special forms.

Placement in a customs bonded warehouse

Some goods may be stored temporarily in a customs bonded warehouse without being cleared for customs or taxed. This is the case of goods for which the destination is not known and of those subject to a quota or high duties. They are the subject of a declaration of transit between the customs office and the customs bonded warehouse.

Temporary importation

In principle, only goods imported permanently into Swiss territory are subject to duties. Most goods intended to be re-exported are therefore not affected by import duties. This practice is regulated by the temporary admission procedure.

To benefit from this, a written application must be sent to the customs office at the time of importation of the goods into Swiss territory. This application is submitted using a document called the declaration for temporary admission (DTA). It must be possible for the nature of the goods to be established.

The main goods which can be the subject of temporary admission are:

  • Professional equipment
  • Goods intended for exhibitions and fairs
  • Certain means of transportation
  • Packaging

The duration of temporary admission is, in principle, limited to two years, but it can be extended by one year up to three times.

In some cases of temporary importation, it is also possible to present the ATA carnet as a customs declaration. This is an international document for the temporary admission of durable consumer goods exempt from duty (goods for fairs and exhibitions, professional equipment, samples for display, sports equipment). This carnet can be obtained from chambers of commerce and industry. Its main advantage is to accelerate customs clearance at the border.

Transit

Companies wishing to transit goods through Switzerland can be exempt from the duties usually due. The main international transit procedures are:

  • The common transit (CT) procedure
  • The TIR procedure (Transports Internationaux Routiers – International Road Transport)

The transit procedure operates using the New Computerized Transit System (NCTS). The aim of this system is to simplify exchanges with customs offices.


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Last modification 27.09.2019

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