Tax reclaim when shopping abroad

Tax Refund


Personal shopping

If you shop beyond Switzerland's borders, there are some important things to know about Swiss customs in order not to be (mis)taken for smugglers: first, the customs-free limit on any purchased goods you take back to Switzerland is CHF 300 on the net value. If an item costs more than CHF 300, it is subject to a customs duty. For obvious reasons, dividing the amount of a purchased item among several people to avoid customs duty is not allowed.

Below is an overview of duty-free quantities

For example, if four people purchased one television set costing CHF 1,150 together, they cannot accumulate their duty-free allowances to avoid having to pay the duty of + 8 % VAT on the total purchase amount. Also, regardless of whether you buy one item or several items, the combined value of which exceeds the duty-free limit, you are liable to pay tax on the entire amount and not just on the difference. Please note that even if you do not exceed the duty-free limits, you can still run into problems at customs as certain agricultural products are subject to specially defined maximum amounts by law.

  • Further information can be found HERE

Reclaiming VAT

When you pay VAT at a shop abroad and then bring your goods into Switzerland, you can reclaim the foreign VAT by doing the following:

  • request a completed official form for a refund from the sales person.
  • have the customs officer of the foreign country stamp and confirm the purchase and export.
  • the next time you purchase something at the same shop, bring the stamped and completed form with you and get your refund.
  • if the shop is in a duty-free shopping area, you can get a refund by having the amount credited to your charge card account rather than being refunded in the same shop. The market leader, Global Refund, operates windows at Swiss train stations and airports where you can get money refunded.
  • further information can be found HERE

Online purchases

In principle, whatever you order online abroad is subject to a customs and VAT duty and must be registered at the customs authorities for assessment. When being sent items in the post or by courier, you do not have to do all this yourself. Your service providers (e.g. post office, DHL, UPS, etc.) will do it for you.

Up to the amount of CHF 5, you will not be charged for any customs or VAT duty. This means that goods with a maximum value of CHF 62, including shipping, customs, insurance and customs expenses, etc. (at a VAT rate of 8%) or of CHF 200 (at a VAT rate of 2.5%) do not incur any charges.

The customs clearance fee charged by the Swiss Post depends on the origin and the VAT value (taxable amount) of the goods. For any goods sent from Germany, France, Austria and Italy, the basic fee is CHF 12, for other countries it is CHF 16.50. Also add 3% on the taxable value of the goods (exclusive of import details and customs clearance).