Two different scenarios apply for products to be placed on the market in Switzerland:
- Under the “Cassis de Dijon principle”, products that have already been introduced legally in markets of the EU or the European Economic Area (EEA) may be legally introduced in Switzerland, apart from certain exceptions published in a negative list. Similarly, products may be introduced in Switzerland if they fall under the scope of a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) with the EU, EEA, EFTA, Turkey, or Canada.
- Products that do not fall under the scope of an MRA or the Cassis de Dijon principle must comply with Swiss technical regulations to be placed on the Swiss market. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) Portal of Swiss technical regulations, provides information on the relevant regulations.
Many agricultural products require general import permits (GIPs), issued by the Federal Office of Agriculture (FOAG) without charge. They are valid indefinitely and are non-transferrable. Goods such as meat, herbs, fruits, vegetables, potatoes, and dairy products may be subject to tariff rate quotas, and obtaining a GIP is a prerequisite for a producer to be eligible for inclusion in the quota. Animals and animal products must be inspected by the on import or during transit. Some plants and plant products require a plant passport issued by FOAG, or even an import permit which is granted by the Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) in the case of protected plants.
Imported food must comply with applicable Swiss food regulations, which are enforced by the FSVO. Switzerland and the United States concluded an organic food equivalency arrangement in 2015, whereby certified-organic products from the United States may be imported to Switzerland and maintain their organic status. Food produced through agricultural biotechnology is subject to strict authorization and marking requirements in Switzerland, especially if intended for consumption. No import authorization is needed for the importation of spirits, though alcohol duty, VAT, and customs duties still apply.
Information pertaining to import regulations of an array of industrial products (such as transportation equipment, machinery, chemicals, and medical equipment), cosmetics, weapons, pyrotechnics, and precious metals is available through SECO’s .
All goods imported into Switzerland, as well as all that transit through the country, must be declared to the Federal office for Customs and Border Security via a written form or online.