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Importing your wine cellar
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You would like to settle in Switzerland, but you don't want to leave your wine collection behind? Importing your bottles to Swiss territory will not pose you any problems. It is simply a matter of choosing the most economic solution in accordance with customs regulations.
An import license is not required for non-business-related use of products. You can obtain information on this license from the Federal Office for Agriculture, Import and Export Division, 3003 Bern, Tel.: +41 (0)31 322 23 94, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
On a private basis, you can thus import an unlimited quantity of wine, but you will pay more or less customs duty according to the type of alcohol (red, white or sparkling wine), the bottles' worth and their quantity. If you are not settling in Switzerland, you can import free of charge once per day (people aged 17 and over):
*(people living less than 10 km from the border)
In the context of a move, you benefit from a 200-liter deductible, providing that you have purchased your wine at least six months prior to your entry in Switzerland. You first need to declare the products that you are bringing to the customs authorities in your country of origin, and then present a list of all the bottles in your cellar to the Swiss customs authorities. Relief from payment must be requested at the time of importation by means of an application form that can be obtained from the customs office.
For further information, contact one of the following customs departments: +41 (0)61 287 11 11 (Basle), +41 (0)52 633 11 11 (Schaffhouse), +41 (0)22 747 72 72 (Geneva), +41 (0)91 910 48 11 (Lugano).
There is no restriction on the number of bottles per day or per trip. With one exception: the quantity of alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content greater then 25% must not exceed 12 liters. For more than 200 liters of products brought during passenger or frontier traffic, you will need to pay the following duty:
If you send your cellar by rail, road or air, without accompanying your precious cargo, the following rates apply:
Sparkling wines will cost you 1.80 CHF/L, as opposed to 3.50 CHF/L for sweet fortified wines up to 22% vol., whether they travel with you or not. In any event, as soon as the quantity exceeds 200 liters, you are also required to pay the value added tax, i.e 7.5% of the value of your merchandise.
The best way to take advantage of the deductible is to put the 200 most expensive bottles on the list. You will also have the opportunity of sending the rest of your bottles by 20-kg parcels. No matter what solution you decide upon, the procedure could wind up costly, but a good wine cellar has no price. The French, for example, ardent wine connoisseurs that they are, certainly would not shy away from such a financial sacrifice...
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