What is the procedure for exporting waste?

If you want to export waste from Switzerland, certain rules need to be observed. Which permits are required when and when are you exempt? Which documents are mandatory and how much time do you have to allow for?


To avoid shipping waste to countries that do not have the necessary infrastructure to dispose of it in an environmentally sound manner, the member states of the Basel Convention must take appropriate measures. For example, waste may only be exported to member states of the OECD or the EU and to countries that are parties to the Convention. The purpose of the Convention is to minimize cross-border movements of hazardous waste and to ensure that they are disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.

Permit requirement for the export: Who is exempt?

The export of waste is only possible with a permit from the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). Only the following cases is a permit not required:

  • Waste samples needed to clarify whether disposal is technically feasible. Only as much waste as necessary may be exported and samples may not weigh more than 25 kg.
  • Waste on the green list of wastes of the OECD Council Decision exported to an OECD or EU member state for recycling.
  • Wastes listed in Annex IX of the Basel Convention that are exported for recycling to a country that is not a member of the OECD or the EU.

For exports not requiring a permit, the exporter must first obtain documentation showing that the planned recycling is environmentally sound.

For all exports of waste requiring a permit, the exporter must submit a corresponding application to the FOEN. After examination by the FOEN, the application is forwarded to the competent authorities in the country of destination. The export may only be carried out following their approval.

This is only possible with the following documents

In addition to a sufficient security deposit to the FOEN, the permit application must contain the following documents and evidence:

  • Completed and signed notification form
  • Contract between the Swiss exporter and the disposal company abroad
  • Proof that the disposal route is known
  • Proof that the disposal is environmentally sound
  • Proof that the waste will not be exported for disposal in a landfill site

The following documents must also be submitted for exports to an EU member state:

  • Proof of registration of the transport company
  • Transport distance / transport route
  • Completed consignment note

Allow for sufficient time

The authorization procedure usually takes one to three months from receipt of the application to the granting of the permit. We therefore recommend that you submit your application for the export of waste in good time.

The FOEN generally issues the permit for a period of one year. If a permit is required for the waste only in Switzerland, a three-year export permit may be issued.

What must be done before the start of the transport

The consignment note must be completed and signed in the FOEN database at least three working days before the start of the transport. The export will be refused by the customs administration if important information is missing from the consignment note or if the consignment note is not submitted.

In the case of transit through or export to the EU, a signed copy of the consignment note must be sent to the authorities concerned and the consignee at least three working days before the start of the shipment.

The signed consignment note, the copy of the export permit and any import permit must be carried on the transport. At the end of the transport, the consignment note must be handed over to the disposal company, which shall send the consignment note, the confirmation of receipt and the proof of disposal to the FOEN, the other competent authorities and the exporter.

Detailed information on the cross-border movement of waste, the contracting states and the various waste lists can also be found in the FOEN brochure.

Do you have further questions?

If you have any questions or require further information, please contact the ExportHelp team of Switzerland Global Enterprise at or phone 0844 811 812.


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