Customs provisions for import and export as well as for value-added tax

E-commerce is the part of e-business which is geared towards the processing of legally binding business transactions. As a rule, e-business includes the processes between business partners, employees and customers via electronic media. Systems to support e-commerce are also called customer relationship management (CRM).

Customs provisions for import and export as well as for value-added tax
Customs provisions for import and export as well as for value-added tax

If traders regularly purchase or sell goods abroad, it is worth cooperating with a logistics and freight forwarding company. The most important document for clearance is the customs declaration. Invoice, weight indication and original confirmation of the exporter must be enclosed with this form. Switzerland levies import duty on foreign goods which end up in the country. The customs duty is normally 7.7 per cent of the value of the goods. This is a value-added tax on domestic consumption. The value-added tax obligation applies only on delivery, service and own consumption domestically of more than CHF 100,000 per year. If, however, companies procure taxable services or goods abroad costing more than CHF 10,000 per year, they are also liable to pay value-added tax.

In Germany the standard value-added tax rate is currently 19 per cent, in Austria it is 20 per cent, in France it is 20 per cent, in the UK it is 20 per cent, in Italy it is 22 per cent and Spain it is 21 per cent. As most EU countries – contrary to Switzerland – do not have any sales limits for VAT liability for foreign companies, the exporter must be registered in these countries for value-added tax purposes. See also the document from S-GE regarding the taxation on services provided electronically.

If invoices are issued for taxable service recipients as well as for buyers domiciled abroad they must contain the following details:

  • Name and address of the supplier or service provider in accordance with the registry entry for entities liable to pay VAT or the role in the business transactions/commercial register entry as well as VAT number.
  • Name and address of the recipient of the delivery or service in accordance with the role in the business transactions/commercial register entry.
  • Date and period of the delivery or service.
  • Type, subject and scope of the delivery or service.
  • Fee for the delivery or service.
  • Tax amount applicable to the fee called VAT as well as the tax rate; the designation "incl. VAT" as well as the tax rate on invoicing, including VAT.
  • Note: All amounts may be stated in foreign currency only.

EU customs clearance:
As a rule, the same regulations apply in cross-border online trade as with the traditional exporting of goods and services. EU customs clearance specifies import tax in the country of entering the EU (transit country) with subsequent tax-free delivery within the community to another EU country (country of destination). In these cases no import sales tax is levied on import to the country of entry of the EU. Swiss companies can thereby supply their customers in the EU under the same tax conditions as their competitors from an EU country. Details on the requirements: Details on EU customs clearance: S-GE/SwissVAT.

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