Import: Customs/VAT

 

Why are there levies to be paid for the delivery of import consignments?

Every consignment from abroad is generally liable to customs duty and VAT. The recipient of such a consignment must pay the levies; VAT is levied on the value of the goods, customs duties on the gross weight. Further levies may also apply (see additional chapters on levies). These levies are not to be confused with the shipping costs.

 

What mail items must be registered?

As a general rule, all items must be registered, with the following exceptions:

  • Postcards which contain only personal or business communications
  • Letters which contain only personal or business communications
 

What is the minimum value to be liable for customs duties or VAT on import consignments?

Every consignment from abroad is generally liable to customs duty and VAT. There is no special tax-free limit as in tourist travel but only a duty-free threshold, whereby the levies after a calculated value of CHF 5.00 per customs declaration are imposed. Customs and VAT duties are considered separately.

The upper limit of the goods value (including shipping costs) for an import exempt from VAT is:

  • 8% VAT (standard rate): CHF 62.50
  • 2.5% VAT (reduced rate): CHF 200.00

The weight limit for a duty-free import differs on the basis of the weight and the customs tariff number, which is based on the product group (see:  http://xtares.admin.ch/tares/login/loginFormFiller.do;jsessionid=P9T5VBMJ1hbLm9jBwhzWngvLp1xBtfFCPtLV8ThKKY70LQQfMrQr!1663280449?l=en)

 

How is the value of goods calculated on which VAT is to be paid?

Examples of an import consignment from Germany with the corresponding items:

   
Invoice amount CHF 123.50*
- Foreign VAT (only if shown/calculated) - CHF 23.50
- Rebate -
- Discount -
- Deposit on packaging -
+ Credits -
+ Commission -
+ Licence rights -
+ Shipping costs + CHF 15.00
+ Import and customs duties (BVU, PMC, etc.) -
+ Customs clearance + CHF 14.95
= VAT VALUE of the consignement = CHF 129.95 rounded to CHF 129.00

*The amount invoiced is converted from a foreign currency to Swiss francs using exchange rates provided by the customs office and updated daily (always on the basis of the previous day's exchange rates).

 

How are the shipping costs calculated?

There are several options for determining the shipping costs:

  • If the shipping costs are evident from the shipping documents, then the amount indicated is used for the calculation
  • If the shipping costs are indicated on the shipping documents as part of the value of the goods, no additional shipping costs will be included in the VAT amount.
  • If no shipping costs are evident from the shipping documents, then the postage stamp value is used for calculation (postage stamp values are average shipping costs calculated by
    Post CH Ltd for consignments from abroad into Switzerland. There are different values for letters and parcels)
  • For gift consignments with a value of up to CHF 100.00, the transport costs are not included in the VAT value.
 

What are stamp values and how are they calculated?

Stamp values are average shipping costs calculated by Swiss Post for a consignment sent to Switzerland from abroad. Stamp values are different for letters and parcels.

 

What is the VAT rate in Switzerland?

In Svizzera si applicano le seguenti aliquote per l’IVA:

Type

VAT rate

Normal rate on taxable deliveries and services 8 %
Reduced rate on taxable deliveries and services (e.g. books) 2.5 %

 

Why is VAT levied on services?

As a general rule, all services relating to an import consignment are subject to VAT. All services which are provided before and during effective customs clearance are to be taken into account in the VAT amount in accordance with customs regulations, and are to be taxed accordingly (e.g. the customs clearance itself, see also the Law on VAT, article 52).

 

What consignments can be imported as gifts and what are the requirements for doing so?

Gift consignments are not subject to customs duties, provided the following criteria are met:

  • Private sender and private recipient
  • For personal/private use
  • Value up to CHF 100.00
  • Declared as a gift (on the shipping documents), or clearly recognizable as a gift

In the following exceptional cases however, customs clearance is carried out:

  • Tobacco products
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Other gifts that are subject to non-customs legislation (see point Details, non-customs legislation)
 

Is there a charge for registering duty-free consignments?

No, registering a duty-free consignment for customs is free of charge.

 

How is VAT charged in the case of a replacement consignment?

Evidence that it concerns a replacement consignment must be supplied to the customs authorities. This is done by submitting the appropriate import and export documents including waybills with correct data. With these documents it is possible to request a VAT refund.

 

How is VAT taxed in the case of a repair?

There are various types of repair traffic, which are handled differently:

The goods are imported in order to be repaired in Switzerland (active repair traffic = repair in Switzerland):

  • Goods of Swiss origin are processed duty-free, provided that the VAT value is not above CHF 1250.00
  • Goods imported for repair originating abroad are cleared for customs as normal.
  • A VAT refund may be requested after the re-export of the repaired goods, or a pre-tax deduction process may be claimed (for a fee)

The goods were repaired abroad and are being imported again into Switzerland (passive repair traffic = repair abroad):

  • VAT applies only to the new material and to the wage costs, which must however be clearly disclosed in the commercial invoice.
 

Why would an import consignment be blocked?

False or inadequately declared import consignments are blocked from being imported into Switzerland, because the missing details prevent customs clearance. The recipient will be issued a notification card on which to provide the missing information. Two options present themselves:

  1. The recipient provides all the necessary details and thereby releases the consignment; the additional processing fees become due directly at the delivery
  2. The recipient does not want to pay for the mistakes of the sender and refuses the delivery. The consignment will then be returned to sender.

Further details on the current fees can be found under Details, Fees/Surcharges (Inspection, Value Declaration and Storage).

 

How are consignments that consist of several parcels handled (MPS)?

Bulk shipments cannot be processed logistically in sequence by Post CH Ltd. The sender is required to enclose a correct commercial invoice with each parcel on which the exact value of the parcel is indicated. If the details are sufficient and it is clear that it concerns an MPS, then the value of the goods is adjusted accordingly (e.g. with the remark “One of five parcels”; the commercial invoice is then divided by five).
 

What happens if an MPS is not recognized?

Swiss Post applies to the customs authorities for reimbursement of the fees. What is important is that the number of pieces be recognizable on the commercial invoice.

 

How can import levies be debited via the Swiss Post monthly bill?

This offer can only be used by legal persons who have a billing relationship with Post CH Ltd. For the debiting of import levies via the monthly bill, registration must be carried out at:  www.swisspost.ch/import.

 

Can the import charges be booked directly to the importer’s ZAZ account?

The ZAZ account can be registered via the Internet account of Post CH Ltd. The customs and VAT levies will accordingly be debited from the respective accounts, and the customs clearance fees will continue to be charged via the monthly bill. The ZAZ details can be entered at the following address:  www.swisspost.ch/import

 

How is the customs clearance fee calculated?

The customs clearance fee depends on the origin and the VAT value of the consignment (the consignment’s taxable value). In the chapter Information, Value of goods, you can read about how the VAT value is calculated.

For consignments from Germany, France, Austria and Italy, the basic fee is CHF 11.50 while for consignments from all other countries the basic fee is CHF 16.00 A supplement corresponding to 3% of the taxable value of the goods is then applied (not including import duty and customs control).

Calculation Examples:

Parcel from France with a value* of CHF 100.00:
Basic fee: CHF 11.50
Surcharge: CHF 3.00 (3% of the value of the goods)
Customs clearance price: CHF 14.50

Parcel from the USA with a value* of CHF 300.00:
Basic fee: CHF 16.00
Surcharge: CHF 9.00 (3% of the value of the goods)
Customs clearance price: CHF 25.00

*Value; VAT value

 

Why do the customs clearance fees depend on the country of origin and the value of the consignment?

Firstly, the customs clearance fees are dependent on costs ( = lower prices for consignments from neighbouring countries, which are usually easier to process); secondly, they are in accordance with consensual agreements between Swiss Post Ltd and the Federal Price Control (these are attractive for many of our customers).

The Federal Customs Authority directly requests the applicable customs and VAT levies, and for this reason Post CH Ltd pays in advance for the receiver; the applicable account and interest charges are settled by means of the 3% surcharge on the value of the goods.

 

On what value is the surcharge of 3% levied?

The surcharge will be charged on the basis of the value of the goods (including shipping costs) declared on the commercial invoice or other customs forms.

 

What is the fee for “Inspection, value declaration and storage” and when is it charged?

This fee is charged

  • if a consignment cannot clear customs due to missing, unreliable or incomplete customs documents and must therefore be opened
  • if, due to missing or incomplete customs documents or due to the contents, a consignment must be placed in storage until the missing information is received or until the recipient or customs authorities take the decision concerning customs clearance.

The fee is CHF 13.00 excluding VAT and is charged only once per consignment; for duty-free consignments no fee is charged.

To avoid this fee, both the consignment contents and the value of the goods including shipping costs must be visible either in a CN22/CN23 customs declaration or in a commercial invoice. The customs documents must be affixed on the outside of the consignment.

 

How can I avoid the inspection, value clarification and storage supplement?

Advise the sender that the postal item must be adequately declared. The contents of the consignment and the declaration of the value of the goods, including shipping costs, for customs clearance purposes must be indicated on the consignment either in the form of a customs declaration CN22/CN23 or as a commercial invoice. The customs documents must be affixed on the outside of the consignment.

 

What is the surcharge for the import customs clearance preliminary agreement and when is it levied?

The surcharge is levied when preliminary agreements for the import customs clearance are effected (only on a mandate basis, registration via the Swiss Post customs clearance customer service) or when required permissions (e.g. for weapons/medicine) have been provided.

The surcharge amounts to CHF 13.00 including VAT.

 

When is the supplement charged for the "customs clearance of consignments which are subject to an order not prescribed by customs law or a surcharge?

The supplement is charged if the import of a good is subject to an order not prescribed by customs law (e.g. precious metals, CITES) or a surcharge (alcohol, tobacco).

The supplement will cost CHF 13.00. 13.00 excluding VAT

 

What are orders not prescribed by customs law?

The Swiss Customs Authority cooperates in enforcing federal orders not prescribed by customs law. Should a consignment of goods be subject to a regulation passed by the Confederation, then additional details must be provided at customs clearance; where necessary, visual inspections may be carried out. These orders not prescribed by customs law apply in numerous areas, including:

  • Security
    Munitions, weapons, blasting material, pyrotechnics, nuclear energy, goods for civil and military use, etc.
  • Intellectual property, trade and culture
    precious metals, trademark protection, design law, copyright law, patent law, low-voltage products, lotteries and bets, transfer of cultural goods   Further details on cultural goods at:  http://www.bak.admin.ch/kulturerbe/04371/04386/index.html?lang=en
  • Economic and financial measures
    Limitation and observation of import and export, autonomous original, export contributions for produce from agricultural products
  • Import quotas
    Agricultural import regulation, wine regulation, egg regulation, free trade regulations
  • Health
    Food, animal and animal products, narcotics and precursor chemicals, radioactive substances, corpses, medicaments and doping
  • State and other monopolies
    alcohol, mail, telecommunications, coins, bank notes, salt
  • Environment
    Animal disease, protection of animals and of animal species (CITES fauna), wild animals, fisheries, protection of plants and plant species (CITES flora), dangerous substances and plant protection products, rubbish, etc.

For further details, see:  http://www.ezv.admin.ch/dokumentation/04027/04031/index.html?lang=en

The supplement will cost CHF 13.00 per case excluding VAT.

 

What is the fee for a customs inspection and when is this charged?

The customs inspection fee is charged when the Swiss Federal Customs Administration orders an inspection of the consignment in question, i.e. when the consignment is inspected.

The customs inspection fee can also be charged on duty-free consignments.

The fee is CHF 13.00 including VAT.

 

What is the surcharge for additional customs tariff numbers and when is it levied?

The surcharge is levied when the customs clearance of a consignment comprises more than five customs tariff numbers. From the sixth customs tariff number onwards, a supplement of CHF 10.00 is charged per additional customs tariff number.

Calculation example:

For the customs clearance of a consignment with eight customs tariff numbers, a surcharge of CHF 30.00 (excl. VAT) is charged

 

When is the EMK (precious metal control) presentation fee charged? When is the CITES presentation fee charged? When is the plant protection presentation fee charged? When is the GTU (border veterinary examination) presentation fee charged?

This fee is charged if the Precious Metal Control Office demands delivery of a parcel.

This fee is charged if the consignment has to be delivered to the CITES control office due to applicable regulations.

This fee is charged if the consignment has to be delivered to the Plant Protection Control Office due to applicable regulations.

This fee is charged if the consignment has to be delivered to the border veterinary surgeon due to applicable regulations.

 

Who should I contact if I have any questions concerning customs clearance?

For questions concerning customs clearance of all types of postal consignment: +41 848 639 639