Importing your car from the UK and continental Europe Find the right option for you

It is easy to drive a car across the border into Switzerland, but to import your car properly there are some steps you'll have to take. Autociel advises.

Bringing a car to Switzerland from the UK

If you are thinking about bringing your UK-registered car when you move to Switzerland, there are a few things to consider. The process is not always a straightforward one.

UK drivers who want to import their car will need to adjust to driving a Right Hand Drive (RHD) vehicle on the other side of the road here in Switzerland. This transition can be more difficult than expected. Most people end up deciding to sell their British car and switch to a Left Hand Drive (LHD) car within six months of arriving. There is almost zero demand for RHD cars in Switzerland so they are difficult to resell. Often these cars end up being exported back to the UK for resell, creating extra cost and hassle for the car owner.

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.


If you need to sell your RHD car in the UK prior to leaving for Switzerland, Autociel is able to provide a quick and easy means of doing so. Please contact us for more information.

See the section further down in this article titled Buying and importing a car in continental Europe or the UK for information on when it makes sense to buy a car outside of Switzerland and import it.

Bringing a car to Switzerland from continental Europe

As road standards are mostly the same in continental EU and Switzerland, it is reasonable to consider importing your car from this region. See the below sections for more information on what requirements you can expect to meet in the process.

Import fees

Swiss VAT on car imports is currently 7.7% and customs duties are 4% of the current value of the car. There are quite a few other bureaucratic hurdles to deal with in addition to these taxes. Find more information on the official Swiss customs page.

Autociel is an expert on importing cars and can provide complete assistance.

Carbon dioxide emissions tax

In 2012 Switzerland implemented new law requiring taxation on car emissions. Cars with high CO2 emissions values (cars that pollute more) are charged at a higher tax rate than cars with low emissions. The CO2 Exchange in Switzerland answers questions about the Swiss CO2 car emissions tax and can help reduce the cost of the tax. [link to]

Importing a car to Switzerland tax-free

In some cases, you will be able to import your car to Switzerland tax-free

If you buy your car more than six months prior to beginning work in Switzerland it qualifies as part of your "moving goods", the goods you bring with you as part of your relocation to Switzerland. In this case, you would not have to pay the Swiss VAT or customs taxes mentioned above on your vehicle.

You can also have a Swiss car dealership order a new car for you from a country other than Switzerland, such as the UK or the Channel Islands. Note: this service may be difficult to find as most Swiss car dealerships only procure their cars from official suppliers in Switzerland. Autociel is a recognised expert in this service.

Buying and importing a car in continental Europe or the UK  

In some cases it might be worth buying the car you want in Europe, even if it means paying the 7.7% VAT and 4% customs taxes as well as the CO2 fee.  

Autociel will help you assess whether it is better for you to buy your car inside or outside of Switzerland. If you buy your car abroad, Autociel can help you transport it, make sure it clears customs, pay the CO2-fee, and register it in Switzerland.

Good to know if you are moving from the UK:  

There are brands such as Audi, BMW and Volvo which sell Left Hand Drive (LHD) and tax-free cars in the UK. Autociel has strong relationships with most of these dealers and in many cases benefits from great prices.

Compulsory car testing and vehicle registration

Depending on your car and whether it meets Swiss road standards, you may have to undergo testing by the Swiss car registration authorities. Each Canton has its own road vehicle authority, but they follow a common national standard. You are obliged to use the vehicle authority of the Canton in which you are a registered resident. Following testing, you may need to make mandatory modifications to your car in order to continue with the import. Cars with a European Certificate of Conformity can be imported without tests or modifications.

Cars that qualify as tax-free imports must be registered with Swiss license plates within 12 months of arriving in the country. Be sure to check with your insurance company to find out whether or not they will continue to cover you once you have arrived in Switzerland, and for how long.

Find professional support

Autociel is the Swiss car dealer that specialises in the expat market. Whether you have yet to arrive or you're a long-term resident, Autociel will find you the best car at the best price. We provide advice and support on importing cars to Switzerland from anywhere in the world. Find out more in a range of articles about Autociel's unique services at or visit Autociel's own website at

Autociel services for importing your car to Switzerland

Autociel can provide you with the following support on car imports:

  • Calculating the full cost of importing your car before you start the process
  • Assessing whether your car qualifies as a tax-free import
  • Arranging customs clearing for both taxable and tax-free imports
  • Arranging a reduced CO2 tax fee (if your car is less than six months old) through the CO2 exchange program.
  • Ordering all the necessary paperwork for the car
  • Arranging the mandatory car testing
  • Arranging registration at the Cantonal road vehicle authority
  • Key-in-hand delivery  

We look forward to serving you! 

Author: Markus Häfeli

Markus is an entrepreneur and owns two companies that specialise in catering to the needs of expats in Switzerland. Autociel ( caters to the car needs of expats in Switzerland and includes rental, leasing and sale of quality cars. Markus has worked with expats for over 17 years. He enjoys contact with people from around the world and takes an avid interest in cars, health and fitness. He enjoys spending time with his son.

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