Customs privileges

Permanent missions (PM) and international organisations (IO)

Regime of customs privileges applicable to the permanent missions, the international organisations and to the members of their personnel domiciled in Switzerland 

Customs privileges (by category of eligible persons)

I. Motor vehicles for official use

The permanent missions and international organisations have the right to import or purchase motor vehicles for official use on a duty-free basis. However if ownership of the vehicle is transferred within three years, the import duties must then be paid beforehand.

II. Duty- free petrol

The permanent missions and international organisations have the right to purchase tax-free petrol for their official and service vehicles (registered in the name of the mission or organisation concerned). Petrol cards are available on request from the United Nations Office at Geneva. The permanent missions and international organisations must provide the Federal Customs Administration with a written assurance that they shall use the duty-free petrol exclusively for the motor vehicles specified and for official use.

III. Goods destined for official use

The permanent missions and international organisations have the right to the duty-free importation of goods required for their official use. However if the duty-free goods are sold or otherwise transferred within three years from the time of their duty-free import, the import duties must then be paid beforehand. 

Procedure for the duty-free importation of goods (I to III)

The permanent missions and the international organisations should address their requests to the Directorate of Customs in Geneva, as the competent authority, which will provide them with the necessary import forms.

IV. Duty-free importation of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages containing more than 25% alc/vol for duty-free importation - new procedure

Permanent missions and international organisations have the right to import duty-free the above mentioned goods for their official use. To do so, permanent missions and international organisations must file Form 14.60 for the shipments of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages containing more than 25% alc/vol to the District Directorate of Customs Geneva for prior authorisation before importing. Customs offices will pass such items only if Form 14.60 contains the necessary authorisation.

The volumes of goods for duty-free importation must be considered reasonable. Any requests thought to be excessive will require justification in writing from the Head of Mission or a duly authorized representative, or from either Director General / Secretary General of the international organisation concerned or a duly authorised representative. 

Procedure for the duty-free importation of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages containing more than 25% alc/vol

Requests for authorisation should be addressed to the District Directorate of Customs Geneva at the latest 5 working days prior to the intended importation.

Such requests must contain

Official Form 14.60 duly completed and signed (originals of coupons A, B and C -- photocopies or faxes will not be accepted) to include the following information:

  • the name of the customs office in the Geneva region where the goods are to be cleared (Thônex-Vallard, Bardonnex, Geneva Freeport, Geneva Airport or Ferney-Voltaire)
  • the number of cigarette cartons (heading 9) and/or
  • the number of litres of alcohol a photocopy of the invoice or order form

Following authorisation of the importation, the completed file will be forwarded by the District Directorate of Customs Geneva to the customs office indicated under heading 4 of the Form 14.60. 

Only Forms 14.60 signed by duly authorised persons will be taken into consideration. 

Heads of mission (PM) – members of the senior management (IO) (holders of a "B" legitimation card)

Diplomatic agents (PM) – high ranking official (IO) (holders of a "C" legitimation card) 

I. Motor vehicles

See Informative note "Regulations governing customs privileges concerning motor vehicles applicable to the staff of the permanent missions (PM) and of the international organisations (IO), resident in Switzerland". 

II. Duty-free petrol

These persons are exempt from tax on petrol for their private vehicles (registered in their name). Petrol cards are available on request from the United Nations Office at Geneva. Those eligible must provide the Federal Customs Administration with a written assurance that they will use the duty-free petrol exclusively for the motor vehicle specified and exclusively for their own use or that of members of their family (with the same official status) living in the same household. 

III. Other items

The persons and family members who are part of their household, domiciled in Switzerland, have the right to the duty-free importation of the following items for their own personal use:

a. furniture, new or used, imported at the time of their initial relocation. This privilege may be used only once and within a period of five years from the date of taking up the appointment (date of issuance of the legitimation card);

b. all other items, with the exception of building materials, but including items for domestic use acquired individually and independently of their initial relocation as per letter a above. 

The duty-free items mentioned above may not be subsequently disposed of in Switzerland, for payment or free of charge, without first requesting the permission of the Directorate of Customs of Geneva, and in any case not without prior payment of the import duties. 

Procedure for the duty-free importation of goods (I to III)

Requests should be addressed to the Directorate of Customs in Geneva as the competent authority, which will provide the necessary import forms. The forms must be stamped by the permanent mission/international organisation. 

IV. Duty-free importation of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages containing more than 25% alc/vol for duty-free importation– new procedure

The above mentioned persons have the right to import the goods mentioned duty-free for their own personal use. To do so, they must submit Form 14.60 for shipments of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages containing more than 25% alc/vol to the District Directorate of Customs Geneva for prior authorisation before importing. Customs offices will pass such items only if the Form 14.60 contains the necessary authorisation.

Requests for the importation of goods of this type which are in excess of the quantitative limits applied by the Duty-free shop (for details, see "Duty-free shop" information sheet), while remaining reasonable, must be accompanied by justification in writing from the Head of Mission or a duly authorised representative, or either Director General / Secretary General of the international organisation concerned or a duly authorised representative.

Imports are to be made once a year for the full year, based on the cumulative total of the quantities allowed for each quarterly period. 

Procedure for the duty-free importation of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages containing more than 25% alc/vol

Requests for authorisation should be addressed to the District Directorate of Customs Geneva at the latest 5 working days prior to the intended importation.

Such requests must contain

Official Form 14.60 duly completed and signed (originals of coupons A, B and C -- photocopies or faxes will not be accepted) should include the following information:

  • the name of the customs office in the Geneva region where the goods are to be cleared (Thônex-Vallard, Bardonnex, Geneva Freeport, Geneva Airport or Ferney-Voltaire)
  • the number of cigarette cartons (heading 9) and/or
  • the number of litres of alcohol a photocopy of the invoice or order form for personal orders, a recto/verso photocopy of legitimation card "B" and/or "C" is required. The latter must bear the signature of the holder.

Following authorisation of the importation, the completed file will be forwarded by the District Directorate of Customs Geneva to the customs office indicated under heading 4 of Form 14.60. 

Multiple orders will be accepted only if Form 14.60 is accompanied by a list of the beneficiaries (holders of a legitimation card "B" and/or "C") who ordered the goods mentioned.

The list should include the names of the beneficiaries, their legitimation card number, original signatures, the quantities ordered individually, as well as recto/verso photocopies of the legitimation cards. 

Only Forms 14.60 duly signed by the authorised persons will be considered.

Purchases at the Duty-free shop are not affected by this change in procedure. 

Administrative and technical staff members (PM) – officials in professional category (IO) (holders of a "D" legitimation card)

Members of the service staff (PM) – officials in general services (IO) (holders of an "E" legitimation card) 

I. Motor vehicles

See the Information note "Regulations governing customs privileges concerning motor vehicles applicable to the staff of the permanent missions (PM) and of the international organisations (IO), resident in Switzerland". 

II. Household goods

Persons transferring their domicile to Switzerland have the right, at the time of their initial relocation, to bring in household goods, new or used, on a duty-free basis as well as foodstuffs, alcoholic beverages and tobacco for their personal use. Unless returning to Switzerland after an absence of at least three years, they may make use of this privilege only once. Goods to be brought in duty-free must be received within five years of taking up an appointment (date of issuance of the legitimation card). 

Duty-free imports are limited to quantities that do not exceed the normal requirements of an individual and the members of the family that constitute the household.

The duty-free items mentioned above may not be subsequently disposed of in Switzerland, either for payment or free of charge, without first requesting the permission of the Directorate of Customs in Geneva, and in any case not without prior payment of the import duties.

Procedure for duty-free importation of goods (I to II)

Tax exemption must be requested from the Directorate of Customs in Geneva and the import procedures fulfilled through the offices of the permanent mission/international organisation. The required forms must be stamped by the permanent mission/international organisation. All necessary import forms may be requested from the Directorate of Customs. 

Swiss members of personnel (PM) - Swiss civil servants (IO) (holders of a legitimation card "S")

Members of personnel with permanent residence in Switzerland (PM) (holders of an authorisation for residence or establishment – "B" or "C" work permit)

Persons without privileges and immunities (PM / IO) - non-civil servants staff (IO) (holders of a legitimation card "H")

Private servants (MP / IO) (holders of a legitimation card "F") 

The above categories of persons do not benefit from customs privileges.

Specialist Contact

Permanent Mission of Switzerland to UNOG  
Office of Security and General Affairs
Rue de Varembé 9-11, P.O. Box 194
CH - 1211 Geneva 20
Tel. +41 (0)58 482 24 24
Fax +41 (0)58 482 24 37