Export from Switzerland

The most common errors in export

Do you have questions about customs duties, value-added tax or designations of origin?

The most common errors in export

Our ExportHelp team is there as your first point of contact to offer a helping hand with technical questions relating to exporting.

The most common errors in export

A German customer requested that we supply him using the Incoterms clause DDP. We did so and subsequently paid the German import sales tax of 19%. How can we reclaim this now?

In the case of DDP deliveries, “untaxed” should be used if possible, so that the importer still remains liable to pay the import sales tax. The importer can reclaim this without any problems, if it is a company. If you deliver DDP (taxed) as a Swiss company, you should register for VAT in the country of destination in advance, so that you can reclaim this tax. However, registration does also bring some obligations with it. 

In the case of DDP deliveries, an EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) number is also required; this may be requested from the relevant EU customs office.

We have deliveries for Brazil and have issued an EUR. 1 for this. Why is the import not exempt from duty?

The EUR.1 or a declaration of origin on the invoice is only effective, if a free trade agreement exists with the country of destination. To date, Switzerland has not concluded any agreement with Brazil.

A customer in Germany has ordered goods from me, which I have had delivered directly by the supplier from Austria to Germany. Now I am being charged the foreign VAT. What can I do?

Such chain transactions with the EU are not as simple, from a value-added tax point of view, as you might think at first glance. With these transactions it is always a question of the Incoterms used and whether it concerns a delivery or a collection. Depending on which it is, the delivery is taxable in the country of destination or the country of departure; the consequence is generally an obligation to register for VAT in one of the EU countries.

I sent goods to Germany and thought that, thanks to the free trade agreement, no customs duties had to be paid. Nevertheless, the recipient had to pay customs duty.

The tariff concessions do not apply automatically and without the cooperation of the exporter. The exporter must (if the goods are preferential originating products) prove the origin (by means of a movement certificate or a declaration of origin on the invoice). In addition, despite free trade agreements, not all goods are 100% exempt from customs duty. There is absolutely no remission of customs duty for a few goods, while there are simply different levels of tariff reductions for others.

80% of our primary materials come from Switzerland and the EU. Nevertheless, the customs authority says that we have wrongly declared Swiss origin. We thought that 80% Swiss and EU origin would definitely be sufficient to declare preferential origin.

The list rules regarding the individual customs tariff numbers must always be checked for each agreement or country of destination. In this case, a value criterion was assumed (for example, a maximum of 40% non-originating primary materials), however a jump in position was required. Such false declarations may result in subsequent customs payments, fines and reputational damage. 

There is a “Made in Switzerland” declaration on our goods, so we did not draw up proof of origin for customs exemption.

Made in Switzerland and Swiss Made are indications of origin, the use of which is governed by special rules.
However, the Swiss Made designation on a product has nothing to do with origin in the sense of free trade agreements. To obtain exemption from customs duty, a movement certificate or declaration of origin is always needed.
The rules governing the use of the “Switzerland” brand differ substantially from the rules of origin of the free trade agreements. They must not be confused with one another.

Our goods are detained at customs in Saudi Arabia. A “Certificate of Conformity” (SASO) is required. This was not the case with previous deliveries. Why is that?

In Saudi Arabia, declarations of conformity have had to be submitted for the imported goods when importing goods from abroad since summer 2013.
This certificate of conformity confirms that the products comply with the applicable standards and technical regulations.
Any import shipment must be accompanied by a certificate of conformity which has been issued by an authorized checkpoint. The certificates are required to guarantee customs clearance of shipments and to confirm that the products comply with the relevant technical requirements of Saudi Arabia, as well as the international, national and regional standards.
The certificates must be issued by the competent organizations designated by the Saudi authorities (such as SGS or Bureau Veritas) in the country of origin (i.e. in Switzerland) of the imported goods, and must prove that the imported goods comply with the technical standards in force in Saudi Arabia. Goods excluded from the new customs regulations include food and agricultural products as well as pharmaceuticals.

If we have a delivery with the clause “ex works”, we still prepare the export documents for the customer and free the goods for export.

Actually, you are not responsible for preparing the shipping documents. The seller is under no obligation to free the goods for export. However, it is difficult for the customer to prepare the shipping documents from abroad and to free the goods for export, so the EXW clause should only be used for national transport. The FCA clause should be used for international shipments. In the case of FCA, the goods are freed for export.

We indicated a lower value than the actual value of goods on the proforma invoice.

A proforma invoice is required for each export, so the import duties can be calculated in the country of destination. Therefore, the value of the goods must be specified for customs purposes. In other words, the product cannot be declared at a lower price.

We have selected the DAP clause for shipments to Brazil.

The responsibility for organizing customs clearance on imports and obtaining import licences lies with the purchaser. If there are delays or problems with this customs clearance process, demurrage can be incurred at the port, for which the seller must accept full responsibility in accordance with the 2010 INCOTERMS.
The customs clearance procedure is partly arbitrary in such countries and can take a long time.
DAP supplies should generally only be accepted in OECD countries.

We have issued a certificate of origin for goods which were shipped directly from Germany to Qatar. Now we have to pay a customs fine. What have we done wrong?

Qatar tightened the import regulations considerably in January 2013. Among other things, the certificate of origin has to be issued in the country from which the goods are exported.

We applied the outward processing procedure, although the goods were of Swiss origin.

The outward processing procedure is not necessary in all cases. If the compensating product can be imported duty-free based on the customs tariff or an originating product, there is no need for outward processing. In this case, the goods intended for outward processing can be declared for exportation in accordance with the general provisions (indication of purpose in the export customs declaration).

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