Importation of a vehicle

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

N.B. For the permanent missions and the international organisations, please refer to the Information note "Customs privileges".

Customs privileges by category of persons

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

Diplomatic agents (PM) - high ranking officials (IO) (holders of a "C" legitimation card ).

Persons of the above-mentioned categories are permitted to import or to buy a motor vehicle free of import duties for their personal use once every three years under the condition of "engagement limité" (limited engagement). The term "engagement limité" means that the vehicle cannot be resold or gifted for a period of three years without the owner being liable to pay import duties on the vehicle. If the new owner has the right to acquire a duty-free motor vehicle, the otherwise applicable import duties do not have to be paid and the engagement limité is transferred to the new owner. After expiry of the three-year period, the owner of the vehicle is under no further legal constraint, and the vehicle may be sold or gifted (to another person regardless of his or her status) without being liable to pay import duties.

In addition, these categories of persons may acquire a second vehicle for their personal use under the condition of "engagement illimité" (unlimited engagement), i.e. without having to pay import duties for as long as they remain the owner of the vehicle.

After the period of three years has expired on the first vehicle expires, the benefit of engagement limité (limited engagement) can be transferred to the second vehicle - initially under engagement illimité (unlimited engagement) -, which may be sold or gifted after three years without the owner being liable to pay import duties, or re-used for importing or buying a new vehicle.

Members of the administrative and technical staff (PM) - officials in professional category (IO) (holders of a "D" legitimation card),

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

The above categories of person have the right, on the occasion of their first arrival in Switzerland or on their return to Switzerland after an absence of at least three years, to import or to buy a motor vehicle free of import duties for their personal use. It can only be made use of this right once. Import or purchase must take place within five years after taking up the function (date of issuance of the legitimation card).

The vehicle cannot be sold or gifted without import duties having first been paid for a period of three years unless the new owner has the right to acquire a duty-free vehicle. In such cases, import duties do not have to be paid and the engagement is transferred to the new owner. Once this period of three years has expired, the owner of the vehicle is free of all legal constraints regarding the vehicle and is free to sell or gift the vehicle (to another person regardless of the latter's status) without being liable to pay import duties.

Officials on short-term contracts (holders of a "G" legitimation card).

Members of the scientific personnel of the CERN (holders of a "P" legitimation card)

These persons do not profit from any customs privilege; only the right to use a not-cleared vehicle - for an unlimited period - is granted. These persons may consequently import a duty-free vehicle providing they commit themselves in writing on form specially provided for this purpose not to sell it or gift it in Switzerland for an unlimited period (i.e. for the entire duration of their function or of their stay in Switzerland). At the termination of their contract (or their stay in Switzerland), these persons must re-export their vehicle, failing which, import duties will be liable. 

Holders of a "G" or "P" legitimation card, who are later employed on a permanent basis receive a legitimation card "B", "C", "D" or "E". This change in status enables the permanent-contract holder to benefit from the customs privileges granted to officials of the same category (see conditions mentioned at the points above). For persons without diplomatic status (legitimation card "D" or "E), the five-year deadline beginning with the beginning of the function will begin as of the date of the permanent contract (date of issue of the legitimation card).

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

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 an "H" legitimation card),

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

The above categories of persons do not benefit from customs privileges and may not import or buy a vehicle without paying import duties.

Import duties

Import duties comprise the following :

  • customs rights (between 12 and 15 centimes per kilogram on vehicles not made in the countries of the European Union or of the European Free Trade Association),
  • tax on motor vehicles (4% of the value of the vehicle),
  • valued-added tax (VAT 7,7 % of the value of the vehicle).

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