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News: changes in Swiss customs law 2024

No longer import duties on industrial goods

As of 1 January 2024 Switzerland will no longer levy import duties on industrial goods. The abolition of industrial tariffs covers goods in Chapters 25-97 of the Swiss Customs Tariff, with the exception of some products in Chapters 35 and 38, which are classified as agricultural products.

Together with the abolition of industrial tariffs, the legislative change also provides for the simplification of the customs tariff structure for industrial products, which will further reduce administrative costs.

Background

On average, prices for goods and services are significantly higher in Switzerland than in neighbouring countries. This is mainly due to the high level of wages and costs in Switzerland, as well as to various tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade that enable companies to foreclose the Swiss market and charge higher prices in Switzerland than abroad. For those reasons, the Swiss government adopted the "Import Facilitation" package of measures in order to reduce these trade barriers. The abolition of industrial tariffs is part of this package of measures.

Will documents of origin still be needed from 2024 onwards?

General

The following points should be observed for the use of documents of origin:

  • proof of origin is no longer required for customs duty-free imports.
  • if a valid proof of origin is available, preferential treatment under an free trade agreement is still possible, even if it does not lead to a change in exempt status (as is the case for tariff categories for which exempt status already applies now).
  • If a product originating from a free trade partner country (e.g. the EU)
  • is re-exported unchanged with proof of origin (e.g. to the EU) or
  • will be used in Switzerland as material for cumulation (e.g. for installation in a machine to be exported to the EU with proof of origin), then

the origin of these imported goods must be proven. This also applies mutatis mutandis to goods for which a supplier's declaration must be issued in the domestic territory.

  • the origin of these goods can -as before- be proven
  • if a preferential assessment took place at the time of importation: with a copy of the levy decision ("Veranlagungsverf├╝gung") showing the preferential treatment, or
  • with the original on paper or a copy of the corresponding valid proof of origin (movement certificate / declaration of origin / certificate of origin).
  • such proofs of origin may also be digitally archived and must be capable of being produced up to 3 years (FTA with Korea: 5 years) after the issue of the proof of origin for which they are considered supporting documents.
  • proof of origin is not required for imports if it is already clear at the time of importation that
  • no proof of origin is issued for the unaltered re-export; or
  • although a product is used as a raw material for a product for which a proof of origin must be issued, the origin is also achieved without applying cumulation with that raw material.
  • proof of origin is obviously not required for imports if the imported goods remain "definitively" in Switzerland. However, it should be noted that the above principles apply in the case of unplanned re-exports (e.g. as returned goods or when sold abroad after a certain period of use).

Recommendations for issuers of proofs of origin/supplier's declarations

Furthermore, it is recommended to observe the following points:

  • if you import goods for which you rely on proof of origin due to re-exportation, ensure that your foreign suppliers continue to provide valid proofs of origin even if they do not affect the customs value.
  • instruct your customs agent accordingly if you wish to claim preferential treatment on importation.

These rules also apply mutatis mutandis if the non-preferential origin of a product is to be certified on the basis of its preferential origin when the product is re-exported in unaltered state.