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How to clear personal goods purchased abroad

How much can you bring through customs duty-free for personal use each day (without having to pay Swiss VAT and customs duties)? How do you pay duty on goods that exceed the quantitative exemption?

Import regulations

The VAT-free limit for purchases is CHF 300. This is based on the total value of all goods, including alcohol and tobacco products. If you exceed the CHF 300 limit, you will have to pay VAT on the total value of all goods.

You are allowed to bring in a certain quantity of other goods duty free, known as an allowance. However, if you exceed the allowance e.g. for alcohol, tobacco or meat, you will have to pay customs duty. Detailed information is available from the Federal Customs Administration:

Customs duties and VAT

Tax-free limits for VAT

Duty-free allowances for food, alcohol and tobacco

Information on duty-free allowances and customs duties on large quantities of foodstuffs (meat, meat products, butter, cream, oil, etc.), alcohol and tobacco.

Electronic customs declaration

Special provisions apply to merchandise and goods used for commercial purposes: they must be declared online according to the relevant customs tariff. This also applies to goods ordered on the internet, or if you import the goods in your own private vehicle.

Information on importing merchandise:

Declaration

Customs tariff

Clearing goods through customs

There are two ways of clearing goods through customs:

  • Verbal customs declaration
    If the border crossing is manned, you have to declare all goods without being requested to do so. A verbal declaration is binding. At airport customs, take the red channel.
  • Written self-declaration
    At certain border crossings with little traffic, customs offices are only manned at certain times or not at all. If no border guards are present, you can declare goods in writing using the forms provided in the declaration boxes. You may only import goods that are not intended for commercial use and which are not prohibited.

Information on declaring personal goods

Written self-declaration

List of customs offices