Importing a car
Depending on your individual situation, you may decide that you need a car in Switzerland. The first decision is to clarify whether to import your current vehicle or to purchase one locally after arrival.
If you do decide to import your car, there are opportunities for significant financial savings if you plan far enough in advance (6 months or more). If you are considering importing a car into Switzerland as part of your personal move, be sure to take into account the costs of importation and any potentially necessary vehicle modifications to comply with Swiss specifications and pollution / CO2 requirements. These factors can be costly for cars designed for non-European markets. Check the car‘s specifications with a professional and/or a garage specialised in your car brand.
Also bear in mind that in case of repair or accident, obtaining replacement parts for foreign vehicles may also create delays and extra costs.
Similar considerations apply to exporting a vehicle. It is worth contacting a specialist for comprehensive support.
- Assess the most cost-effective option for you
- Inform your household goods mover that you plan to import your car
- If relocating without support, gather and complete all necessary paperwork
Need to know
- In general, you may bring a car into Switzerland free of tax and duty if you have owned and used it for at least 6 months as it is considered to be part of your personal effects
- The car must be mentioned in the inventory of your personal effects and its passage through customs certified at the point of entry into the country
- If you import a car duty free for your personal use you will be liable for paying duty if you sell it within one year of your arrival
- Foreign license plates may be used for maximum one year
- If you have owned your car for less than 6 months at the time of your residency registration, you will be liable for Swiss tax/duty. You will need to provide official documentation confirming the value of the car, its country of origin and a certificate of compliance with Swiss standards
How to proceed
- Request your household goods mover to include your car with your personal effects declaration and provide customs forms for importation, even if you are personally driving it into Switzerland
- Ensure you have the following standard list of required documentation for importation and registration:
- Expert report 13.20A (form obtained from customs when clearing the car)
- Customs authorisation 18.44 (form obtained at customs or from the moving company if the car is part of your household goods)
- Technical data from vehicle (user manual)
- Vehicle license (registration card)
- Number plates
If you plan to buy a car abroad and then import it to Switzerland, then buying a car more than six months in advance is a good idea.
Generally, you may bring a car into Switzerland tax and duty-free if you have owned and used it for at least 6 months, as it is considered to be part of your personal effects.
Where to find help
Reviewing your individual situation properly to assess whether you should import your current vehicle or consider buying a new one (either in Switzerland or in your home country) can be complex and should be carried out by a specialist.
The many factors involved – ranging from import and customs duties, technical inspection, modifications to achieve approval for Swiss roads, and many more details – mean that a full appraisal of your situation is highly recommended from both a financial and a practical point of view.
For professional advice and guidance, and to avoid potentially costly mistakes, it is worth contacting a car specialist who has experience in these issues and who is aware of the legal framework relating to internationally mobile persons.
If you do not already have access to a vehicle relocation specialist through your employer or your relocation services provider, Hello Switzerland and Autociel offers advice and support:
To bring or to buy? Is it easy to do? What are the hurdles?
Let the experts handle it for you
Markus Häfeli founded Autociel in 2002.
Markus and his team of auto experts is here to advise you on all matters related to renting, leasing, purchasing or selling cars.
How much does it cost
- Import duties, if applicable, depend on the specifics of your car
- Possible modification costs for Swiss technical compliance depend on the specifics of your car and can be very costly
- The exchange of licence plates costs approximately CHF 300
- Annual Swiss road tax based on your engine capacity and the canton of residence and lies between CHF 100 and CHF 1000
- Mandatory third party liability insurance varies depending on the specifics of car and driver (see insurance provider for details)