Switzerland: What you can and can't ship

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Scenic view of a serene lake surrounded by majestic greenery and traditional Swiss buildings.
Every country worldwide, including Switzerland, has their own set of customs rules and regulations. Understanding these is a crucial part of the international moving process and helps you to avoid unintentional violations and potential legal consequences.

To ensure your removal to Switzerland goes as smoothly as possible, we have put together an informative guide which covers everything you need to know about what you can and can't ship to Switzerland.

It is always recommended that you should consult official government sources, Swiss customs agencies or relocation/international removal specialists to get the most accurate and up-to-date information on customs regulations, as things can change over time. The restrictions and prohibitions featured in following article are based off of information provided in 2023. To ensure you are up to date with the Swiss customs regulations, please check with your international Move Manager who will be able to provide expert information and advice. Alternatively, FIDI provide an Import Customs Guide to Switzerland which included all of the latest information. 

Items you can't ship to Switzerland

Swiss customs has a list of items which are completely prohibited into entering the country. These items are strictly forbidden due to legal, ethical or safety concerns. 

If you attempt to import prohibited items into Switzerland, it can result in very serious consequences. Swiss customs officials are able to seize any prohibited items that they find during the inspection of your container and you are likely to face legal consequences, such as fines or imprisonment, depending on how serious the situation is. 

As well as this, you could experience major delays or additional expenses if your shipment is found to contain a prohibited item. It is likely to be detained by customs officials whilst they examine the contents and you may be required to pay an inspection fee or penalty before your shipment is released. 

The following items are examples of Switzerland's prohibited items:

  • Narcotics and drugs: This includes substances classified as illegal drugs under Swiss law or international conventions.
  • Counterfeit goods: This includes counterfeit luxury goods, fake designer items, unauthorised copies of copyrighted material, and counterfeit medications. 
  • Weapons and firearms: This includes any weapons, firearms and ammunition without proper authorisation and permits.
  • Protected species and products: This includes the importation of endangered species, products made from protected animals or plants or items derived from them such as ivory, coral, certain types of wood and products made from endangered wildlife. 
  • Cultural and historical artifacts: This includes archaeological artifacts, cultural property or items if significant historical or artistic value without necessary permits or authorisation is prohibited. 
  • Hazardous materials: This includes certain chemicals, radioactive materials, explosives and other dangerous substances. 
  • Offensive materials: This includes materials that promote hate speech, racism and discrimination. 
Please note that this may not be an exhaustive list, and there may be additional items that are prohibited from importation into Switzerland. 

Switzerland also has certain restricted items that require special permits, licenses or certifications for importation into the country. These items may be subject to additional regulations and controls to ensure compliance with Swiss laws, international agreements and health and safety standards. 

Here are some examples of restricted items for import into Switzerland:

  • Firearms and ammunition: To import firearms, ammunition and related accessories requires a valid firearm license or permit. Switzerland has specific regulations regarding the importation and possession of firearms, and individuals must comply with these regulations. 
  • Pharmaceuticals and medications: Importing pharmaceuticals and medications for personal use is allowed, but certain restrictions apply. Prescription drugs may require a prescription from a Swiss doctor or a medical certificate from the country of origin. Narcotic drugs or controlled substances may have additional requirements and must be declared to customs. 
  • Animal and plant products: Importing animal products, such as meat, dairy or fish, and plant products, including fruits, vegetables, seeds and live plants, is subject to restrictions,. Some items may require phytosanitary certificates or veterinary health certificates to ensure compliance with health and safety standards.
  • Food and agricultural products: Importing certain food and agricultural products, such as meat, dairy, and poultry, may be subject to import controls and inspections. The importation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is strictly regulated in Switzerland.
  • Cultural artifacts: Importing cultural artifacts, such as artwork, antiques, or archaeological items, may require permits or certificates. These items are subject to cultural heritage protection laws, and proper documentation may be necessary to prove their authenticity and legal origin.
  • Chemicals and hazardous materials: Importing certain chemicals, pesticides, and hazardous materials may require permits or compliance with specific regulations. These substances are subject to strict controls to protect human health and the environment.
  • Alcohol and Tobacco Products: Importing alcoholic beverages and tobacco products for personal use is allowed within certain limits. However, quantities exceeding the limits may require additional documentation or may be subject to customs duties and taxes.
Please note that there may be additional categories or specific regulations for certain goods, which are not listed above. For the latest up-to-date information on restricted items, contact your international Move Manager.

Items you can ship to Switzerland

There are also a wide range of goods that you can ship to Switzerland without any major restrictions. Here are some examples of the items you can ship to Switzerland, some of which may apply to your shipment more than others:

  • Documents and letters, such as letters, contracts and invoices
  • Personal effects, such as clothing, accessories, electronics, books and household items 
  • Artwork and collectibles, such as art pieces, sculptures and other artistic items
  • Electronics and technology, such as computers, smartphones, cameras and technical accessories 
  • Books, magazines and printed materials, such as newspapers and manuals
It is important to note that while these items and generally allowed for shipping to Switzerland, we always recommend that you check the latest customs regulations and consulting your Move Manager for detailed and up-to-date information on the regulations for shipping items to Switzerland. 

By hiring Pickfords as your international mover, you will have all the support and expert advice you need to ship your belongings to Switzerland. In 2022, we were announced as the 'International Moving Company of the Year' by the Forum of Expatriate Management, after having won the award in 2013, 2018 and 2019. Our great achievements highlight our unbeatable experience and the professional service we provide to our customers who are moving to Switzerland

Contact us today to get a quote for your upcoming move to Switzerland.