Currently, anyone ordering something from outside Switzerland, must pay Swiss Post an administrative charge if their package attracts import tax (duty and/or VAT). In addition, they must pay Swiss Post an additional CHF 13 if the parcel needs to be opened, usually because the package has been poorly labelled.
Swiss Post has a contract with Swiss customs to process packages coming into the country.
Yesterday, Switzerland’s upper house (Council of States) agreed the CHF 13 checking charge should be paid by the sender. Senders can decide whether they want to pass these costs on to their customers or not.
Another proposal requiring the government to reimburse the fee was rejected by the cabinet (Federal Council) on grounds that it was not right for customs to pay for the checking of parcels.
Currently, Swiss Post charges between CHF 11.50 and CHF 16.00, depending on the country of origin, plus 3% of the item’s value, to clear any parcel attracting VAT and/or duty. In addition, the company charges CHF 13 if the parcel needs to be opened. If there is no duty, the VAT is less than CHF 5, and the parcel does not need to be opened, then the recipient is charged nothing – an item of up CHF 62.50 will come through at no cost if it attracts VAT of 8%, and an item of up to CHF 200 will too, if it attracts VAT at Switzerland’s lower VAT rate of 2.5%. Items sent from one private individual to another are tax free if they are worth less than CHF 100 and for personal use. These shipments should be declared as gifts.
Only the CHF 13 checking fee will be affected by the recent change.
In 2015, of the roughly 18 million small packages entering the country under the system of simplified declaration, around 3.8 million attracted charges. 110,00 parcels were opened and checked.