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Weapons

Acquisition, importation and granting of weapons permits in Switzerland for foreign members of staff of diplomatic and consular missions and permanent missions.

Acquisition of weapons

Any person who acquires a weapon or a key component of a weapon in Switzerland must hold a weapons acquisition permit. The weapons acquisition permit is issued by the competent authority of the canton of residence (Article 9 of the Weapons Act).

Competent cantonal weapons offices (fr, de, it)

In accordance with Article 8, paragraph 2 of the Weapons Act, no weapons acquisition permit may be issued to persons:

  1. who are under 18 years of age; 

  2. who are prohibited from holding such a permit; 

  3. with whom there is reason to fear that they may use the weapon in a manner which is dangerous to themselves or to others; 

  4. who are included in the Swiss register of criminal records for an act of a violent or dangerous character or for the repeated commission of crimes or offences, for as long as that record is not deleted. 

For foreign members of diplomatic missions, consular posts and permanent missions who are holders of a legitimation card of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, written authorisation by the Head of Mission shall replace the criminal records extract.

Exportation of weapons

Exportation of weapons is subject to authorisation, which must be requested from the following offices:

Exportation to Schengen area member states (fr, de, it)

Exportation to non-member states of the Schengen area

Importation of weapons

As set out in Article 23 of the Weapons Act, weapons, key components of weapons, arms accessories, ammunition and ammunition components must be declared at the time of importation or transit in passenger traffic, in accordance with Article 25 of the Customs Act of 18 March 2005.

Pursuant to Article 43 of the Weapons Ordinance, foreign members of diplomatic and consular missions, permanent missions and special missions are exempt from the obligation to show any weapons at the customs office and to declare them in accordance with Articles 21 and 25 of the Customs Act when the weapons in question can be considered as articles for personal use within the meaning of the Convention of 26 June 1990 on temporary admission (i.e. only two hunting weapons or two sporting weapons, or a hunting weapon and a sporting weapon, with the accompanying ammunition, or a weapon for alarm or warning purposes, provided that it does not have the capacity to fire pyrotechnic ammunition).

The importation of weapons is subject to authorisation (Art. 25 WA). Pursuant to Art. 25a, para. 3 (b) of the Weapons Act and Art. 42 (a) of the Weapons Ordinance, foreign members of diplomatic and consular missions and permanent missions accredited to Switzerland are exempt from the requirement to obtain an import permit for the provisional introduction of weapons into Swiss territory.

This provision does not apply to missions as such, which remain subject to the duty of authorisation and declaration (Articles 42 and 43 of the Weapons Ordinance, in conjunction with Articles 21 and 25 of the Customs Act).

The importation of weapons must also be carried out in accordance with the Ordinance on the Customs Privileges of Diplomatic Missions in Bern and Consular Posts in Switzerland (SR 631.144.0) or the Ordinance of 13 November 1985 on the Customs Privileges of the International Organisations, of States in their Relations with such Organisations and of the Special Missions of Foreign States (SR 631.145.0).

Weapons must be declared in the following cases:

  • when they are part of personal effects at the time of moving to Switzerland;

  • in the case of a consignment entering Switzerland by rail, road or air, or exiting a free port.

A declaration is not required for passenger traffic, in so far as weapons may be considered as articles for personal use under the Convention of 26 June 1990 on Temporary Admission.

Carrying weapons

The carrying of weapons in public is subject to a permit (Article 27 of the Weapons Act). The first paragraph of Article 49 of the Weapons Ordinance confers jurisdiction over the granting of weapons permits to foreign members of diplomatic and consular missions, permanent missions and special missions to the Federal Police Office, in collaboration with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

This permit is required at all times for any person who is in possession of a weapon in public. It is valid only on presentation of the legitimation card of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Only handguns can be authorised.

The necessity to carry a weapon must be properly justified. All foreign members of diplomatic and consular missions, permanent missions and special missions required to carry a weapon for security reasons, even occasionally, are requested to apply for a permit using the new attached form entitled ‘Application for a permit to carry weapons for foreign members of diplomatic missions, consular posts, permanent missions and special missions’, accompanied by a passport-size photo and a photocopy of the legitimation card.

Send applications to:

  • For members of diplomatic missions and consular posts:

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Protocol, Federal Palace West Wing, 3003 Bern

  • For members of permanent missions:

Swiss Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office and other international organisations in Geneva, 9-11 rue de Varembé, case postale 194, 1211 Geneva 20 

Weapons and ammunition for hunting and shooting sports

A weapons permit is not required for the possession and transport of a weapon (e.g. in a car boot, in a bag, etc.), when unloaded, for use at a shooting range or on a hunting ground. Ammunition may be carried simultaneously, but must not be loaded in the weapon.

Importation and weapons permits for security officers accompanying high-profile visitors to Switzerland

a)    Importation

Security officers mandated by a state in connection with planned official visits are exempt from the requirement to obtain an import permit (Article 42 (c) of the Weapons Ordinance). They are also exempt from the obligation to show or declare any weapons at customs, along with any required ammunition (Article 43 (b) of the Weapons Ordinance).

b)    Carrying weapons

The carrying of weapons in public is subject to a permit in Switzerland. Only a limited number of armed security guards – no more than five as a general rule – are allowed to enter Switzerland and only handguns are authorised. Any other weapon falling under the Federal Act on War Material (in particular machine pistols) will be confiscated on arrival in Switzerland and handed over to the competent police authority. The Swiss authorities reserve the right to refuse further requests for weapons permits in the event of non-compliance with these provisions.

In order to obtain the necessary weapons permits, representations and missions must address their applications sufficiently in advance (ten days before the arrival on Swiss territory) to the following services:

  • Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Protocol, Federal Palace West Wing, 3003 Bern (fax no. +41 58 464 02 28) for transits and bilateral or private visits

or

  • Swiss Permanent Mission to the United Nations Office and other international organisations in Geneva, 9-11 rue de Varembé, case postale 194, 1211 Geneva 20 (fax no. +41 58 482 24 37) for visits as part of multilateral relations (participation in international conferences, visits to UN agencies, international organisations, etc.)

Applications must contain the following information:

  • Full name(s) of the person(s) requiring weapons permit(s)

  • Date(s) of birth

  • Rank(s)

  • Type(s) of weapon, model(s) and serial number(s)

  • Date, time and place of arrival in and departure from Switzerland of the security guard(s) (airport or border post)

a) for arrival/departure by air: airline and flight no(s)
b) for arrival/departure by road: type(s) of vehicle and number plate(s) 

  • Place(s) of residence in Switzerland (hotels etc.)

Legal bases

Supplemented by:

Last update 26.01.2022

Contact

Section privilèges et immunités

Bundesgasse 32
CH-3003 Berne

Phone

+41 (0)58 464 85 26

Section privileges and immunities

Bundesgasse 32
3003 Bern

Phone

+41 (0)58 464 85 26