Based on a partial revision of the current Swiss VAT Law
(VAT-L), foreign domiciled companies selling into Switzerland
will be treated the same as companies domiciled in
If a foreign domiciled distance selling company supplies
goods into Switzerland, generally Swiss import VAT is due. The
person (i.e. freight forwarder) responsible for customs
clearance charges the Swiss import VAT due to the recipient of
Due to low materiality and processing costs, the Swiss
Federal Customs Administration (SFCA) does not insist on the
collection of import VAT for the shipments with the import VAT
amount of CHF 5 ($5) or less (low value goods, or LVG).
New regulation as of January 1 2019
If a distance selling company generates the annual turnover
from LVG-shipments of at least CHF 100,000, its supplies are
considered as domestic supplies and the company consequently
becomes taxable in Switzerland. The tax liability arises the
moment the given turnover threshold is reached.
The import of the goods is carried out by the distance
selling company in its own name from the beginning of the tax
liability and can therefore deduct the import VAT as input VAT
accordingly (the distance selling company acts as importer of
Distance selling companies can already voluntarily apply for
the simplified import procedure allowing a foreign domiciled
company to act as importer of record before the annual
LVG-turnover threshold of CHF 100,000.
Each person meeting the conditions for the obligatory VAT
registration must register independently with the SFCA.
The foreign domiciled company/person has to appoint a Swiss
fiscal tax representative as well as apply for a bank guarantee
provided for an unlimited period with a Swiss domiciled bank or
make a cash deposit on the SFCA's bank account.
If a (domestic or foreign) company is already Swiss VAT
registered due to other supplies inland and such a company also
provides LVG distance selling from abroad into Switzerland,
those LVG supplies are still considered as turnover generated
abroad so long as the annual threshold of CHF 100,000 from such
supplies is not reached.
- To decide whether the foreign domiciled
distance selling company is obliged to be Swiss VAT
registered as of January 1 2019 based on the LVG deliveries
to Switzerland, start monitoring the respective annual CHF
100,000 LVG turnover as from January 1 2018;
- To consider the option for the voluntary
Swiss VAT registration prior January 1 2019 based on the
"simplified import procedure" application;
- Most services rendered to Swiss recipients
will become subject to 8% VAT once a company is Swiss VAT
- The distance selling company, once Swiss
VAT registered, should amend the internal pricing
definitions, system set-up allowing for the correct issuance
of invoices and related declaration/payment of Swiss VAT (and
customs duty, where applicable).
Companies that may be affected by this change in Swiss VAT
legislation are well advised to consult with their respective
VAT advisers to ensure compliance with the new legislation.
Benno Suter (firstname.lastname@example.org) and
Tomáš Rodák (email@example.com)
Tel: +41 58 279 6366 and +41 58 279 6364