Switzerland - Country Commercial Guide
Temporary Entry
Last published date:

Switzerland’s Federal Customs Administration offers a temporary importation procedure for cases in which goods are used in Switzerland only for a limited period of time and which are not to be released into free circulation. Common purposes include exhibitions, tests and trials, sporting events, and professional and contractor equipment. This circumstance requires a customs declaration for temporary admission form (ZAVV) or the international customs document ATA Carnet (described below). In a temporary importation case, no import taxes are levied against the product, though a security deposit is collected in the amount of the applicable duty if the goods were to be permanently imported. Payment can be made in the form of a cash deposit or a surety bond. The deposit is ultimately refunded once the goods in question are re-exported in their entirety in the given time frame, which is generally two years.

Goods that can be temporarily imported must be exported unaltered. If the transporter wants to repair or process the goods, Swiss inward processing procedures allow for duty free importation. In some cases, the goods may be exempted from value-added tax (VAT).

For goods transiting Switzerland, there are two main procedures: the Common Transit Procedure (CTP) and the Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) procedure. The CTP, an electronic procedure which allows for a simple and cost-efficient way to transport goods through multiple countries, is currently applied to all modes of transport in the EU and EFTA countries as well as Turkey, North Macedonia, Serbia, and the UK. A deposit must be paid in the country in which the procedure begins and will be refunded once the goods reach their destination. Upon initiating the procedure, the system generates a customs document that must accompany the goods until they reach their destination within the designated time frame. TIR functions similarly but encompasses more countries and only applies to road transportation. The TIR carnet functions as the customs document and must accompany the transit. In both cases, no transit duties or fees are levied.

The ATA carnet is another international customs document that can be used in Switzerland for the temporary importation, exportation, and transit of goods. With an ATA Carnet, no deposit must be paid upon entering the border, and the goods in question may be imported tax-free for up to one year before re-export. Most often, the ATA carnet is used for goods for exhibitions and trade fairs, professional equipment, and commercial samples.

More detailed instructions in English on how to handle temporary entry goods and transit through Switzerland are available at the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security.