Customs & Immigration Policies
So you’ve made the big decision to move to Switzerland. It’s a lovely country and we’re sure you’ll love it. Switzerland boasts one of the highest standards of living in the world and its cities regularly top the list of the most desirable places to live. Naturally, the Swiss want to keep things this way, so they’ve put some rules and regulations in place for people moving to their country. Don’t worry, they’re nothing too complex, but it’s still important you adhere to them. This article will list the key things you must do before your move to Switzerland and also provide you with resources for further information.
A (Very) Brief Background on Anglo-Swiss Relations
The UK and Switzerland have always been on good terms (in war and trade). They are close trading partners (the UK is the fourth most important market in the world for Swiss investors). Switzerland has also been a popular spot for British tourists since the 19th century (maybe it’s their shared affinity for the rule of law). Many Swiss speak English, but we suggest you brush up on your German (or French, depending on what part of the country you’re moving to). Either way, you’ll have no problem fitting in and will feel welcome in your new home country.
Paperwork for your move
If you’re a British national, you don’t need a visa to enter Switzerland. But as you’ll be living there, it’s mandatory you apply for residency at your local town hall within 8 days of entering the country.
Regarding your personal belongings, when bringing them into the country, Swiss customs will require three sets of accompanying documents. They are:
An inventory of the belongings you are bringing into the country. You must have owned them for at least six months before the move and continue to use them afterwards.
Clearance of Household Effects
An application requesting your personal belongings be exempted from the payment of duties.
Copy of your passport (with visa and the photograph)
The Swiss customs officer will ask for the copy of your passport together with the Swiss visa (your permit to stay in Switzerland) .
A document issued by your Swiss employer confirming your employment. It usually describes the bases on which you are employed.
Proof that you are moving to Switzerland. This can take the form of a tenancy agreement or contract for hire of property in which you intent to live during your stay in Switzerland.
You’ll need to provide the driver with copies of these documents, as he’ll be asked to present them to Customs when crossing the border.
Importing regulated items
If you want to bring your car to Switzerland, you must pay duty on it. The standard rate is 4% of the car’s value. It’s advised you arrange to pay this duty before arriving at the border, because if you don’t, your car will need to undergo an assessment at the border and you’ll have to provide a lot of paperwork for this (more info via links below).
For smokers, you’re allowed a personal limit of 200 cigarettes OR 50 cigars OR 250g of cut tobacco. Anything over these limits will be subject to duties.
For drinkers, you’re allowed up to 2 litres of alcoholic beverages under 15% vol and 1 litre of beverage over 15%. Again, any more than that and you will be subject to duties, based on the amount of litres over the limit, as well as the percentage volume of alcohol.
For most other goods, so long as they total under CHF300 (approx £207), they are duty free. Anything over that will be subject to duty charges, though it’s important to note that everything must be declared to customs, whether it’s within the duty free limits or not.
Where in the UK can I go to get more information?
For accurate and up to date information we recommend you contact the Swiss Embassy in London. They will be able to advise you on everything you need for your move. You can find their contact details here: http://www.swissembassy.org.uk/london.html
Links to online resources:
If you’re more of an Internet person, you can find answers to most of your questions via the following sites:
Swiss Customs Administration
Swiss Federal Office for Migration
Swiss Government Website
UK Government Website
It may appear there’s a lot of paperwork to fill in when moving to Switzerland, but it’s really not too different from moving to any non-EU country. Besides, moving to Switzerland is well worth the effort it takes. It’s a country of great natural beauty, clean picturesque cities, and wonderful people. You’ll be glad you moved.
Contribution by Michael Pawlicki