Import of goods Switzerland commercial and private

ZAVV – Customs declaration for temporary admission (Switzerland)

If you only wish to import goods into Switzerland temporarily, the ZAVV Switzerland procedure (customs declaration for temporary admission) must be used. It used to be called the “Swiss free pass procedure”. This term is still sometimes used today. In the case of the planned temporary import of goods, a “Free Pass Switzerland” must therefore be issued. At the same time, however, a corresponding customs document must be created on the German side, which declares the goods for temporary export from Germany. Below you will find the procedure and the costs of the procedure.

Even if you are not yet sure whether the goods will be sold and the goods are initially only going to Switzerland for an exhibition or similar, you can have us issue a free pass. However, it is important to note that the goods may not be modified or repaired in Switzerland under any circumstances, otherwise a different procedure (inward processing in Switzerland) would have to be used. We will be happy to advise you on this by telephone or in writing.

Common uses for the temporary importation of goods are:

  • Trade fair events
  • Exhibitions / demonstrations with uncertain sales
  • Tests and trials
  • Professional equipment
  • Training, education, grazing of horses


In order for the ZAVV to be created, it must first be checked whether the requirements for this are met. If, for example, it is already known that goods are to remain in Switzerland permanently, the ZAVV makes no sense and can therefore not be applied. In addition, a precise list of the goods to be temporarily imported must be available, including of some details.
The following information about the goods is important:

  • Description of the goods, if applicable incl. Customs tariff number if known
  • Value of goods incl. Specification of the currency
  • Weight of the goods incl. and excl. Packaging
  • Intended use of the goods
  • Shippers abroad
  • Recipients in Switzerland
  • Owner of the goods
  • Is it a rental business?
  • How long do the goods stay in Switzerland?
  • Which border do the goods cross to reach Switzerland?
  • Which border do the goods cross to leave Switzerland?
  • When will the goods arrive in Switzerland (date)?
  • How is the identity of the goods ensured, i.e. how can the customs office
    check whether exactly these goods are leaving Switzerland again, e.g. by means of serial numbers or photos of the products

Ideally, you can prepare/compile all this information in a list in advance so that we can prepare customs clearance for you as quickly as possible without any delays due to further queries.

For the German part, i.e. for the export accompanying document, we also need the EORI number of the German shipper and a completed customs authorization. We will be happy to send you the form for the customs clearance authorization by e-mail on request. Please be sure to state that the goods are only to be exported temporarily from the EU.

Please note that the Swiss customs office will want to see the goods when you declare them for import and you will have to deposit a security in cash or by card with Swiss customs to cover any import duties that may be incurred. However, you will be reimbursed once the goods have been re-exported from Switzerland. The security deposit corresponds to the VAT on temporarily imported goods + customs duties. As a rule, it amounts to 7.7% VAT on the value of the goods, on freight and customs clearance costs and on customs duties. Customs duties are based on the type of goods and the weight of the goods. There are different customs rates for almost every type of goods. We can calculate the expected amount to be deposited for you.


The goods must be re-exported from Switzerland to ensure that the ZAVV is properly completed and the security deposit is repaid. We also have to prepare some customs documents for the finalization so that everything is declared correctly. If the goods remain in Switzerland, we will have to clear them through customs and the security deposit will be retained for the part of the goods that remains in Switzerland.

Important: Please note that rental costs for the loan of goods or similar charges/compensation must be taxed at 7.7% Swiss VAT. In addition, rental transactions must always be imported using the ZAVV procedure. Temporary importation by means of an ATA Carnet is not permitted.


In principle, the ZAVV procedure is limited to two years by the Federal Customs Administration FCA. Under certain conditions, however, it can be extended three times by one year each time. You can therefore use the goods duty-free in Switzerland for a total of five years, provided that all deadlines and requirements are met. The extension of the free pass / ZAVV is subject to a fee (usually CHF 30 to 60).

Practical examples of ZAVV Switzerland

Now that you know the basic information for implementing the ZAVV, we would like to show you some practical examples from our customers. In some cases, special conditions and legal requirements are attached to the temporary import.

Taking tools with you to Switzerland

If you, as a German company, have received an order from a Swiss customer for repair/assembly in Switzerland, you must pay attention to several things at once. Firstly, there is the work permit, which you may have to apply for (from a certain length of stay in Switzerland). Secondly, in some cases you must also register for VAT in Switzerland if your worldwide annual turnover exceeds CHF 100,000. For this purpose, we recommend that you make an inquiry in advance and, if necessary, work with a tax trustee such as Keel + Partner.

In addition, the ZAVV form for professional equipment and for new hand tools must be completed for you by us as the customs agency. On the German side, an export accompanying document must be created for this with a special coding so that the goods can later be returned to Germany duty and VAT-free.

For certain tools (used hand tools, usually up to 1000 EUR value of goods) no ZAVV must be applied for, e.g. in accordance with Istanbul Agreement. Since a German export declaration is generally not required for goods worth less than EUR 1000, customs offices usually accept it with a simple list of the tools. This must then be stamped by the customs office on export from Germany, on import into Switzerland and on re-export and re-import.

For which goods a ZAVV procedure must be applied for, the circular R10-60 released by the customs office should be observed. We will be happy to assist you with this.

Export ZAVV / Export free pass

The above information and explanations on the ZAVV relate to the situation when you temporarily import goods into Switzerland. Of course, you may also want to export goods temporarily from Switzerland, e.g. to Germany. A free pass must then also be created, but in a modified form. For example, no security has to be deposited with the Swiss customs administration. We can also support you in this process and prepare all the necessary customs documents.