Guidelines for customs and cross-border trade

Experience has shown that customs questions are a problem for many Swiss SMEs. The practical information available from Switzerland Global Enterprise and its wide-ranging network of experts in Switzerland and abroad provides active and local support for Swiss and Liechtenstein companies. The following provides an overview of the available support.

Leitfaden Zoll und Warenverkehr
Leitfaden Zoll und Warenverkehr

Customs tariff number 
To ensure that no time is lost when passing through customs, important basic information needs to be available. This includes inter alia the product’s customs tariff number pursuant to the harmonised system (HS). Internationally the first six digits of the customs tariff numbers are harmonised in over 200 countries. The following digits may vary from country to country. The Swiss customs tariff number consists of eight digits.

If the customs tariff number of certain goods is not known, this can be found by searching key words on www.tares.ch. Binding information is provided by the General Directorate of Customs, Customs Tariff Department. (For form, see under «Documents».)

In the «Worldwide customs tariffs» chapter, the import duties of other countries can be searched by entering the customs tariff number.

It is important, when engaged in export activities, to clarify any possible import declarations and/or certificates of the country of destination in advance, and if necessary to have these issued. As a rule, an importer can provide key information about the current import regulations, as importers will be familiar with the local conditions.

This also includes CE marking. In order to facilitate the free trade in goods and services within the EU, directives exist in the EU which set out basic safety, health and environmental requirements. CE marking (CE, originally «Communauté Européenne») shows that the labelled product fulfils the basis requirements of these directives, and has passed a defined process to obtain this mark (see chapter «CE marking».

Country of origin certificate 
A country of origin certificate identifies the country of origin of goods. The authorities of many states require goods which are imported into their sovereign territory to be accompanied by country of origin certificates or attested commercial invoices. In Switzerland, country of origin certificates are issued by the cantonal chambers of commerce (see www.cci.ch).

Carnet ATA
The so-called Carnet ATA (abbreviation for Admission Temporaire – Temporary Admission) is a customs document that facilitates the customs-free temporary import of goods into another country and the subsequent re-import into Switzerland. Amongst other things, the Carnet ATA saves the party who is subject to customs duty from having to provide sureties for the import duties, and saves the customs authority the need to issue national customs documents. In order to be able to use a Carnet ATA, two conditions need to be met:

The country of destination must be a signatory to the Carnet ATA Agreement and the intended use of the goods must be one of the following three groups: professional equipment, trade fair and exhibition goods, samples.

The Carnet ATA may not be used in conjunction with repairs and finishing activities. Carnet ATA certificates are issued in Switzerland by the chambers of industry and commerce.

Do you have any further questions? Then please do not hesitate to contact the specialists at Switzerland Global Enterprise’s ExportHelp.

Read more
How should we contact you?

Premium Partner

Strategic partners

Institutional partner

Official program