Household effects are defined as goods that are intended for personal use or to practice a profession or business, were used for personal purposes for at least six months in the former foreign country and will continue to be used in Switzerland.
Upon entry, two copies of form 18.44 (declaration/request for clearance for household effects) must be presented. This form can be downloaded from the Swiss Customs Administration website or is available at Swiss embassies and consulates abroad.
The following documents must be presented along with this form:
- List of household effects to be relocated
- Assurance of a residence permit (for citizens of the original EU15/EFTA countries as well as Malta and Cyprus, an employment contract or residence deregistration in the home country is sufficient)
- Proof of housing (purchase agreement or rental contract)
Customs clearance procedures for household effects must be handled by a customs office for merchandise and can therefore only be done on business days. Any subsequent shipments must be registered along with the first shipment.
Students can bring in household items, personal items and school supplies duty free. The same applies if you are not relocating to Switzerland.
Trips and shopping, allowances and tax-free limits
People who live in the Basel region will probably cross borders frequently for travel, outings or shopping trips. Although the borders are very porous and border checks rather sporadic, it is still very important to be familiar with customs regulations. Violations can result in harsh penalties. Claiming ignorance will not be accepted as justification.
For example, there are maximum values for purchases in EU countries as well as import restrictions for various products (meat, dairy products, etc.). Detailed information can be found on the Swiss Customs Administration website. Hint: Download the free app "Travel & Goods" (in various languages)!
Value added tax (VAT) paid on purchases in EU countries can be refunded. This requires requesting an export slip when you pay for your items. Before leaving the EU country, the completed form must be stamped at customs and documentation of your residence in Switzerland (permit or passport) must be presented. The VAT amount can then be paid out by the vendor who sold the products the next time you shop there.