Inheritance rights

Inheritance rights applying to inheritances of members of personnel of permanent missions and international organisations residing in the Canton of Geneva or the Canton of Vaud

Exemption from inheritance tax

In Switzerland, inheritances are subject to the payment of a tax (inheritance rights) which is imposed in accordance with cantonal law.

In accordance with the Vienna Convention of 18 April 1961 on Diplomatic Relations (art. 34, letter c and art. 39, par. 4, last sentence - RS 0.191.01), this tax can be imposed on the inheritance of a person who enjoys diplomatic status and who dies in Switzerland except for movable property whose presence in Switzerland was due solely to the presence of the deceased, i.e. furniture, porcelain, silverware, etc. and the cash sums required to run a household correctly (bank accounts and post cheque accounts).

In 1995, the Canton of Geneva and the Canton of Vaud decided to extend the exemption to all inheritances of members of permanent missions (independently of their status) and hence to the inheritances of all officials of international organisations with which Switzerland has concluded a headquarters agreement.

It therefore follows that the inheritance of a member of a permanent mission or of an international civil servant who resided in the Canton of Geneva or in the Canton of Vaud is exempt from inheritance tax (inheritance rights) if all of the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • the deceased was actually in employment at the time of his or her death, and
  • the deceased was not a Swiss national and was not permanently resident in Switzerland (holder of an authorisation for residence or establishment – B or C permit) before taking up the position.

This exemption applies only to movable property. It does not apply to real estate.

Inter vivos bequests do not enjoy any fiscal benefits. Moreover, the beneficiaries of these privileges are not exempted from inheritance taxes (except in cases where the inheritance can be exempted from inheritance rights as specified above), nor do they enjoy exemption from taxes on donations that they have received.

Legal foundation

  • Canton of Geneva: Law on Inheritance Rights of 26 November 1960 (RSG D 3.25);
  • Canton of Vaud: Law on Transfer Taxes for Bequests of Property and on Inheritance Taxes and Donations of 27 February 1963 (RSV 9 5 A).

Cantonal Taxation administration
Rue du Stand 26, P.O. Box 3937
1211 Geneva 3
Tel. +41 (0)22 327 58 87
Fax +41 (0)22 327 55 97

Taxation Office of the District of Nyon (Office d’impôt du district de Nyon )
Avenue Reverdil 4-6
CH - 1260 Nyon
Tel. +41 (0)22 557 50 50
(or directly to the Taxation Office of the District where the person lives)

Specialist Contact

Permanent Mission of Switzerland to UNOG
Office of Privileges & immunities
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