How to determine Duties and Taxes for shipments imported / exported into SWITZERLAND

Published on August 7, 2015 by Maria J

>Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos

When shipping packages or goods from the United States into Switzerland, the biggest unknown is typically the cost associated with the duties and taxes. Every country has different regulations and policies to follow, Switzerland is no different. But as a general rule, most goods imported into Switzerland are required to pay for:

  • 1) Duties (Ad Valorem Duty)
  • 2) VAT (Value Added Taxes)
  • According to the Swiss Customs Administration, there are two general steps to find out whether or not you will have to pay duty and VAT and how much you will have to pay:

  • 1st Step: Does the total value of all goods exceed CHF 300 ($310.21)?
  • --> YES: Liable to VAT
    --> NO: Exempt from VAT

    The VAT rate is based on the value of the shipment, the insurance cost plus the duty amount payable. The Swiss standard rate of VAT is 8%. Although, there is a reduced rate of 2.5% for certain goods such as food products and books.

  • 2nd Step: Does the amount exceed
  • A) 1 kg meat and meat products, with the exception of game?

    B) 1 kg/l butter or cream?

    C) 5 kg/l oil, fats or margarine for human consumption?

    D) 5 l alcoholic beverages of up to 18% vol.?

    E) 1 l alcoholic beverages by volume of more than 18% vol.?

    F) 250 units/g cigarettes/cigars?

    G) 250 units/g other tobacco products?

    --> YES: Dutiable. Customs duty is levied on excess quantities

    A) CHF 17 ($17.58) per Kg

    B) CHF 16 ($16.54) per Kg/l

    C) CHF 2 ($2.07) per Kg/l

    D) CHF 2 ($2.07) per l

    E) CHF 15 ($15.51) per l

    F) CHF 0.25 ($0.26) per unit

    G) CHF 0.10 ($0.10) per g

    --> NO: Duty Free

    Here is a diagram that describes the process

    swithzerland duties and taxes

    Other taxes and customs fees
    Excise duty is payable on tobacco and alcohol products


    1) Product: Dress, value CHF 20 ($20.61)
    --Duties: 0
    --VAT: 0
    --Total Cost: CHF 20 ($20.61)

    2) Product: Computer, value CHF 700 ($723.82)
    --Duties: 0
    --VAT: (700*.08) = 56 ($57.71)
    --Total Cost: CHF 756 ($779.06)

    3) Product: 2 Kg of Butter, Value CHF 50 ($51.70)
    --Duties: (16*2) = CHF 32 ($32.98)
    --VAT: 0
    --Total Cost: CHF 82 ($84.50)

    Additional Tips:

  • Discounted shipping rates of up to 60% can be obtained via

  • Swiss users can take advantage of services such as to buy or import commodities from the United States.

  • *Harmonized System (HS): is an internationally standardized system of names and numbers which the Swiss customs uses for the tariff and classification of goods subject to Duty.
    *CHF: Swiss Franc
    *Exchange rate used: CHF 1 = 1.03 USD

    One thought on “How to determine Duties and Taxes for shipments imported / exported into SWITZERLAND

    1. Juan says:

      Excellent post on switzerland’s complicate duties and tax system

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