Export Knowhow

Customs formalities for temporary export

Do you export goods abroad that are to be used for a limited period of time before being re-imported? Read on to find out what the supervised customs procedure stipulates and which basic requirements must be met in order to re-import the goods duty-free.


The following procedures are intended for domestic goods that are used abroad for a limited period of time and are then re-imported duty-free. These are supervised customs procedures and must meet basic requirements in order to be used. The basic condition for these procedures is that the goods are re-imported in an unchanged condition after temporary use abroad (use is not considered a change).

We recommend checking in advance whether a definitive export with subsequent normal import might be cheaper and easier than exporting on a temporary basis.

1. ATA Carnet

The ATA Carnet is an international customs document that can be used for the temporary import, export and transit of goods instead of the national customs documents that would otherwise be required. With an ATA Carnet, Swiss and foreign customs formalities can be completed with a single form that can be requested from the competent chamber of commerce and industry.

The ATA Carnet is valid for 1 year for any number of journeys.

The most common uses of an ATA Carnet are:

  • Professional equipment
  • Trade fair and exhibition goods
  • Commercial samples for demonstration purposes


  • Allows for quick customs clearance.
  • Possibility of importing the goods duty- and VAT-free in several countries in succession.
  • Possibility of importing and re-exporting the goods on different journeys during the one-year period of validity.
  • Easy to use and requires no special knowledge of customs procedures.


Other important information:

  • An ATA Carnet is not permitted for goods destined for repair or processing.
  • The fields of application may vary.
  • If an uncertain sale is envisaged from the outset or if the intended purpose involves a fee for the temporary use that is subject to taxation, an ATA Carnet is not permitted.

2. ZAVV / Temporary export

Import duties should generally be levied only once. In most cases, the imposition of duties is not justified if the exported goods are re-imported abroad after their temporary use. The customs declaration for temporary admission (ZAVV) was created for such cases.

The customs declaration for temporary admission states that goods can be sent abroad temporarily or for uncertain sale without customs duties being owed.

Nearly all goods can be exported under the ZAVV procedure, but from the outset they must be goods that will only be used temporarily abroad.

The most important categories of goods in the ZAVV procedure are:

  • Professional equipment
  • Exhibition and trade fair goods
  • Certain means of transport (e.g. racing vehicles or ships) and packaging

The time frame under this procedure is generally limited to two years, but an extension is possible.

The application for temporary admission must be made in writing when the goods are exported. This must be done using the following forms, which can be ordered from the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security e-shop:

ZAVV 11.73 – temporary admission

ZAVV 11.87 – temporary admission / closure


  • Low costs (in the case of proper re-importation)
  • Long period of validity
  • No security has to be deposited for temporary export. Because no customs duties are levied on exports from Switzerland, no security is required for an export ZAVV. When importing with an import ZAVV, on the other hand, the import duties are secured by mean of cash deposits or a guarantee on the ZAZ account).


  • Only valid for one-time exports (otherwise multiple border crossings must be requested by the customs declarant)
  • Although the procedure saves duties, it involves considerable administrative work due to complex monitoring measures
  • The ZAVV is a Swiss customs document and has no influence on customs formalities abroad.

Other important information:

  • It must be possible to record the identity of the goods; for this purpose, a meaningful list must be submitted to the customs authority (e.g. photos, description, article number).
  • With this procedure, the border crossing must take place at a specified time and place: when crossing the border, only customs offices for commercial goods may be used during normal office opening hours.
  • The ZAVV is not permitted for goods destined for repair or processing.
  • An electronic solution is being planned.

3. Special customs declarations

In certain cases, temporary admission is possible without formal requirements (without a customs document). Further information on this can be found in Guideline 10-60 (temporary admission procedure).

Source: Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS) (www.bazg.ch)) As of March 2019



The Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Switzerland (CCIS) are each responsible for a canton or region and issue certifications of the non-preferential origin of goods on behalf of the Confederation (Art. 4 VUB) and provide information on the subject. Furthermore, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry issue Carnet-ATAs and offer their members information, advice and training.

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