The Swiss have customs regulations they want travellers to abide by. It is imperative to declare any taxable merchandise. Import taxes are usually inexpensive mostly for small quantities. However failure to declare your merchandise will result in paying the duty plus a fine that is generally two times the TVA (sales tax) on the goods. Flying is the one of the most common modes of transportation to Switzerland, upon arrival at the Swiss airport you are required to declare any taxable items, otherwise the airport officials may be inclined to walk up to you and pull you aside for questioning.
Similarly, if you adamantly purchase counterfeit and fake goods such as fake and replica watches and fake designer apparel, be advised that the Swiss are strictly opposed to these activities, border guards take their role in the Stop Piracy group seriously. If you’re caught to be in possession of fake trademarked or designer brand products it will be confiscated. You are, however, allowed to make personal copies for your own personal use, as a result DVDs and CDs are not a problem. Switzerland does not, unlike its neighbouring countries, fine you for bringing in counterfeit products: the authorities will only take them from you.
If you are driving to Switzerland, be warned that customs officers continually check that rules on importing goods are being respected, they also request to see identity papers of the drivers. Upon arrival if you have nothing to declare, you can take the green channel, the Customs offices have small booklets with the green octagan and “RIEN A DECLARER” symbol. Simply put this in your front windshield and you have the right to take the green lane. Also you can drive through the red lane and slowdown in case the Customs want you to stop.
All Swiss customs offices are stacked with a small booklet, detailing specific restrictions on goods. The important ones are:
- Cigarettes – one carton
- Cash – no restrictions on the amount of money you can carry, but large amounts can be subject to international crime laws.
- Alcohol – to 15%, which includes still wine, 2 litres (3 bottles) and over 15%, 1 litre, per day per person, tax free. Duty is CHF 0.60 per litre up to 20 litres and CHF3 per litre above that quantity.
- Butter and cream – 1 litre or kg; tax after that is CHF16/kg
- Milk and other dairy products – 5 litres or kg; tax after that is CHF3/kg
- Eggs – 2.5 kg (tax after is CHF3.70)
- Fruits and vegetables – 20 kg per variety, excluding oranges
- Apple, pear and raisin juice and related products – 3 litres (tax: CHF0.90)
- Meat – this is still protected. Each individual has a 500 gram allowance, including children. This makes it possible today to buy a roast in France without asking the butchers to cut it in half. When you exceed your allowance you are liable to SFr20/kg in tax. You can bring in larger quantities of poultry (3.5kg) and other meat such as rabbit and ostrich (20kg) before any additional tax is added.
Swiss customs regulations have some bizarre products on the list of protected food products – like for instance potatoes: spuds themselves and all derivative products (frozen French fries, for example) have an import limit of 2.5kg and there after you pay CHF7.50/kg. It is important that you are fully aware of the regulation regarding importation before setting off to Switzerland.
Check the prices of removals to Switzerland.