In Switzerland, industrial products include all goods except agricultural products (including processed agricultural products and animal feed) and fishery products. The abolition of customs duties on imports of industrial products therefore affects all goods in chapters 25 to 97 of the customs tariff, with the exception of some goods in chapters 35 and 38, which are considered agricultural products.
As a result of these new regulations, these products will no longer be subject to customs duties when imported into Switzerland from 1 January 2024, regardless of the origin of the goods.
Simplified Swiss customs tariff
In parallel with the abolition of industrial customs duties, the Swiss customs tariff has been simplified. The tariff headings have been reduced from 9,114 to 7,511, since the fine subdivision that allowed differentiated customs duties to be levied is no longer necessary in the industrial sector.
No change to customs procedures
The abolition of industrial duties will not result in any changes to customs procedures. The obligation to make an import declaration, including the correct indication of the tariff numbers of the goods to be imported, remains in force. Other taxes and duties continue to exist (e.g. tax on mineral oils, motor vehicles, incentive tax on VOCs, etc). Please note that import VAT will continue to be levied at the new rates that came into force on 1 January 2024.
New rules from 1 January 2024
From 1 January 2024, industrial products will be imported into Switzerland duty-free (exemption from customs duties at the time of import taxation). This means that it will no longer be necessary to rely on a free trade agreement (FTA) or the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) to import industrial products that it is established at the time of import will remain or be consumed in Switzerland.
Switzerland has concluded free trade agreements with various countries. However, the preferential treatment provided for under these agreements only applies to goods that comply with the provisions governing origin and procedure. Preferential origin allows goods imported from a third country (which is not part of Swiss territory) to benefit from a reduced or zero rate of customs duty. Following the reform that came into force on 1 January 2024, there are no longer any import duties to be paid on industrial products, and it will therefore no longer be necessary to provide proof of the products' origin.
No further proof of preferential origin will therefore be required for these products, except for imports of goods that will be processed in Switzerland and then re-exported.
Despite the abolition of customs duties on industrial products, Swiss exporters must continue to provide proof of import of goods with preferential origin in order to draw up preferential origin certificates for export. Without proof of origin, international returns lose their preferential status.
In view of this, we recommend that you continue to request proof of preferential origin from the sender (foreign supplier) even after 1 January 2024. In this way, you will avoid having to pay any customs duties abroad if the goods are re-exported from Switzerland.
For goods temporarily exported from Switzerland, it is possible to optimise flows by using a specific customs procedure. In practice, "temporary" customs procedures are not often applied, even though additional costs could be avoided.
Exceptions to the exemption from the requirement to provide proof of preferential origin at importation
Preferential proof of origin, or prior proof of origin, will still be required at the time of import in certain cases, for example :
Import of goods considered to have undergone sufficient processing in Switzerland solely through the application of cumulation within the meaning of the relevant FTA and which will be re-exported under the same FTA as goods with Swiss preferential origin.
Import of goods that will be re-exported unaltered as goods with preferential origin in free trade partner countries that allow cumulation of origin.
- The preferential proof of origin is used as a basis for a non-preferential proof of origin on re-exportation:
Import of goods that will be re-exported unaltered and for which a preferential proof of origin will serve as the basis for a non-preferential proof of origin.