Swiss retailers to be placed on an equal footing with those from abroad

From 1 January 2019, new regulations will apply to mail order; this will include an adjustment of the VAT Act. As the Swiss Federal Tax Administration writes on its website, the partial revision will ensure that companies based in Switzerland are no longer put at a disadvantage as against those from abroad.

Foreign mail order companies could become liable to pay tax in Switzerland from 1 January 2019
Foreign mail order companies could become liable to pay tax in Switzerland from 1 January 2019

If a mail order company generates over 100,000 Swiss francs worldwide in sales per year sending small consignments to Switzerland from abroad, then these deliveries will be treated the same as domestic ones. The mail order company will therefore become liable to pay tax in Switzerland and must enter itself into the VAT register. As soon as the mail order company is VAT registered, not only will its small consignments count as domestic deliveries, but so will all other consignments for which the import tax amounts to more than five francs.

According to current practice, VAT is not levied on imports (import tax) if the tax amount is five francs or less (small consignments). At the same time, delivery of goods is not subject to VAT in Switzerland. A buyer can thus receive small consignments from abroad without any VAT. However, the same consignment from a Swiss retailer, who is VAT registered, is subject to the domestic tax. This regulation is set to change as of 1 January 2019.

Check tax liability

If a retailer generates at least 100,000 Swiss francs with small consignments in 2018 and expects to continue sending small consignments in 2019, they will be subject to taxation from 1 January 2019 and must become VAT registered.

If a mail order company from Switzerland or abroad is liable to pay tax, it must register independently with the Federal Tax Administration. A foreign mail order company must have a tax representative with a place of residence or business in Switzerland.

Further information about the new mail order regulation can obtained from the Federal Tax Administration.

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