If you've decided to move on your own and pack things up yourself, you'll need to be super organised, channel a lot of Marie Kondo and be quite the clean-up ninja. Not impossible, but no easy task either.
Get informed on customs regulations
Do you want to bring your car to Switzerland? Or perhaps some of your furniture and kitchen appliances?
Once you've been through the clean-up routine and decided which things to donate, gift, throw or place in storage, you'll have to consider the following: for some of the stuff you're taking with you, you will need specific customs clearance forms. This is mandatory for customs clearance and to benefit from tax free and duty free import. When you choose a moving company, they will tell you how to fill them in and handle customs clearance for you. If you're on your own, you'll have to manage filling in forms by yourself and also handle customs clearance. If you don't fill in these forms, Swiss customs might possibly deny entrance, so don't take this lightly. You can get help with customs clearance here.
It is your responsibility as the shipper of goods to make sure that the items you are about to bring into Switzerland are cleared for customs and meet all the requirements before shipping them.
The items you're shipping must have been purchased and in use for at least six months prior to shipment. Customs authorities may request further documents as evidence for exemption of charge. If this condition is not respected, customs authority might ask you to pay customs tax, as your items will be considered new imported items.
If and when possible, attach the invoice to the items that do not have visible signs of use.
Required Documents for Household Goods' Customs Clearance
The list of documents varies depending on the country of origin or your citizenship/permit status:
This is the basic list of required documents for both immigrants from EU/EFTA as well as those from Non EU/EFTA countries:
Application for clearance of personal property (form 18.44) - original in duplicate
Copy of passport
Copy of employment contract or copy of residence permit
List of wines and spirits if included in the shipment
In addition to the documents above, immigrants from Non EU/EFTA countries need to also include a Copy of rental or purchase agreement for a house or residence.
Importing a Used Car as Part of Your Household Goods
If you also intend to bring your car to Switzerland, this is a more complex topic we covered in this guide.
For now, suffice it to say: you'll need an official vehicle license from your country of origin and a copy of the sales contract. Your vehicle must be presented to the cantonal road traffic offices for inspection.
Goods to furnish your secondary residence in Switzerland
Personal property for furnishing secondary residences may be imported duty-free from any country with all the usual documents listed above (form 18.44, passport copy, purchase/rental contract), if the goods have been in use for at least 6 months.
The shipment should arrive within a reasonable time after the commencement of the purchase/ rental of the real estate. -- In human language (not legalese), this means that if you plan to import furniture to decorate your secondary residence in Switzerland, you should do it soon after you buy the house or sign the rental agreement.
Subsequent Shipments (Not Applicable to Second Residence)
You can bring more than one shipment of goods once to move to Switzerland - make sure you indicate this option when your first shipment is imported and cleared through customs.
Subsequent shipments must always be announced in writing during the first customs clearance (on the inventory list).
For subsequently-shipped vehicles, the vehicle document (copy of vehicle license, etc.) must always be submitted at the first clearance.
Importing Alcoholic Beverages as Part of the Household Goods Shipment
Want to bring a taste of home with you? A maximum of 12 litres with an alcohol content of over 25% and 200 litres of wine (alcohol content below 25%) can be imported duty- and tax-free. (Yes, you read right, 200 litres!!) The quantities given are the maximum allowances. The sender must provide a separate list with precise information about the beverages.
Diplomatic shipments to Switzerland have a different process and abide by different rules. For a diplomatic shipment of household goods, a different customs clearance process applies, and a special customs form is required.
For preparation of the form and shipping to the embassy, the precise name and function in the embassy should be known. A detailed inventory list will also be required.
Prohibited and Restricted Items
Relocating with Pets
Want to bring your furry friend along? There are special regulations for bringing your pets with you to Switzerland. Start the process as early as possible, as you need to make sure that your pet has all the required documentation. Take a look at this article to learn about Swiss standards on this topic.
Planning to import firearms?
Weapons and ammunition can only be imported with your household goods to Switzerland with special permission.
Unless otherwise agreed the following items are prohibited to bring with you to Switzerland:
Perishables, such as food
Wood, bricks, cement, rocks, soil
Dangerous goods (corrosive, explosive, flammable, acid) such as aerosol sprays, chemicals, paint
Products derived from endangered species (such as ivory, crocodile leather, etc.)