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22 February 2021

Entering Switzerland and clearing customs

Some people from abroad see Switzerland as a beautiful winter vacation spot or as an ideal short city trip destination, but others see Switzerland as their new home. Those who decide to move to Switzerland have to declare their belongings at customs. With the following tips, we will help make the customs declaration and thus the first step of the move go smoothly.

Duty-free imports 

In order to be able to import household goods (including household effects such as furniture, crockery, books, clothes as well as any collections, animals or the car) into Switzerland free of duty, proof of a change of residence must be provided (e.g. by means of a deregistration confirmation from the country of departure or a Swiss rental or employment contract). Additionally, a list of the relocated goods must be drawn up. It is important to note that the items must have been in personal use for at least six months and must continue to be used personally after the move.

Customs declaration and border crossing

In order to speed up the customs clearance procedure when crossing the border, the so-called relocation dossier can be sent to the relevant customs office for preliminary examination. The relocation dossier must contain the following documents: 

  • Application form 18.44 household effects (download at;
  • Proof of transfer of residence (e.g. by means of de-registration confirmation from the country of departure, Swiss rental or employment contract. For non-EU/EFTA citizens, it may also be required to show the confirmation from the responsible migration office that they will issue a residence permit);
  • List of items to be imported.

When crossing the border, it should also be noted that in Switzerland vehicles with a permissi-ble total weight of up to 3.5 tons are subject to the national road tax (so-called motorway sticker (Autobahnvignette)). This costs CHF 40 per calendar year and can be obtained both at service stations and at the border itself. It must be adhered in a clearly visible spot on your vehicle's windscreen. 


Some objects or products are either prohibited or may only be imported, exported or carried into Switzerland with a permit (e.g. narcotics, protected animals and plants or weapons).

Road vehicles

If the car being moved to Switzerland has already been in personal use abroad for at least six months and will continue to be used personally after the move to Switzerland, the import is exempt from duty but must still be declared at the customs clearance point. The following documents must be presented at customs: 

  • Official identity card or passport
  • Vehicle registration document
  • Application form 18.44 household effects and proof of transfer of domicile (see title "Customs declaration and border crossing")

The car must then be registered with the Road Traffic Office of the canton of residence. This is generally done within one year. This means that the car can be driven in Switzerland for a maximum of one year with foreign license plates. 

Our immigration team will be happy to answer any questions you may have and provide you with competent support for recruiting foreign workers. 

Co-Author: Dimitra Prandekou

Category: Immigration

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