Acquisition of property in the cantons of Geneva and Vaud by members of personnel of permanent missions and international organisations

There are three types of acquisition of a property for the holders of a legitimation card issued by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA): 

  1. Restricted acquisition: for the persons who cannot prove they have been living in Switzerland for a continuous period of 10 years or 5 years according to nationality.
  2. Non-restricted acquisition: for the persons who can prove they have been living in Switzerland for a continuous period of 10 years or 5 years according to nationality.
  3. Non-restricted acquisition: for nationals of the member States of the European Union or the European Free Trade Association.

Taxation: the person acquiring the property, with or without diplomatic status, is subject to the payment of all duties and taxes applicable to the acquisition of property in Switzerland.

1. Restricted acquisition (Stay in Switzerland of less than 10 years or 5 years according to nationality) 

Members of permanent missions and international organisations, domiciled in Switzerland or in France, and holding a B, C, D, E, I, L, P or R legitimation card issued by the FDFA, may acquire a property to serve as their principal residence. It does not require prior authorisation but is subject to certain restrictions.

The above-mentioned rules are for the persons who cannot prove they have been living in Switzerland for a continuous period of 10 years or 5 years according to nationality or for those who are not nationals of a member State of the European Union or of the European Free Trade Association (see point 3).

Principle: the above-mentioned persons may acquire a property without prior authorisation. The purchase, however, is subject to three restrictions:

  • the property must be intended for the use as the principal residence (domicile) of the purchaser.
  • the property’s surface area must not exceed 3,000m2.
  • the property must be acquired in the person’s own name (acquisition by means of tenant’s shares under SIAL is in principle not allowed).

Procedure: the person acquiring the property must submit the following documents to the notary public, of his choice, in charge of the sales contract :

  • B, C, D, E, I, L, P or R legitimation card issued by the FDFA.
  • Attestation by the Swiss Mission of the validity of the legitimation card to be requested in writing, using a special form, from the Swiss Mission (see below - section "Documents").
  • Declaration in writing that the property being acquired is to be the principal residence for the exclusive use of the purchaser and his family, and is to serve as their domicile.
  • Declaration in writing that neither the purchaser nor his spouse nor adolescent children are owners of property in Switzerland, whether in their own names or through shares in a company holding real estate, or in any other form.
  • An agreement in writing that the purchaser of the property will occupy it within a maximum of 6 months of signing the sales contract.

The acquisition of a principal residence by a holder of a legitimation card is no longer subject to certain conditions and obligations. Through the easing of the federal Law on the Acquisition of Property by Foreigners (LFAIE), persons eligible to acquire a property are no longer subject to:

  • the obligation to prove continuous residence for the period of a year in order to purchase property;
  • the obligation to sell within two years when they no longer reside in the property;
  • the interdiction to dispose of the property within five years of its acquisition.

Persons who are not holders of a B, C, D, E, I, L, P or R legitimation card issued by FDFA may acquire a property, but only on the decision of the relevant authority. This authority, after having examined the notion of domicile on the basis of conclusive evidence (attestation by the employer, type of employment contract, probability of the contract’s being renewed, etc.) will first have to rule on the question of eligibility.

2. Non-restricted acquisition (continuous period of stay of 10 or 5 years according to nationality) 

Members of personnel of permanent missions and international organisations who are in possession of a B, C, D, E, I, L, P or R legitimation card issued by FDFA and who can prove they have been living in Switzerland for a continuous period of 10 years, may acquire a property without prior authorisation and without being subject to any restrictions (principal residence, surface area, …). They are then considered in the same way as holders of a permanent residence authorisation (C permit).

The above-mentioned period of 10 years is reduced to 5 years for citizens of the following countries : Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, the United States of America and the Vatican. All of these countries have negotiated agreements or bilateral treaties with Switzerland, or have agreed to give reciprocal advantages to Swiss citizens for permanent residence. N.B. The Member States of the European Union and of the European Free Trade Association are not mentioned in the above list; their nationals have different conditions of acquisition of a property (see point 3).
 

Procedure: the person acquiring the property must submit the following documents to the notary public, of his choice, in charge of the sales contract :

  • B, C, D, E, I, L, P or R legitimation card issued by the FDFA;
  • Attestation by the Swiss Mission certifying that the person acquiring the property has held a legitimation card without interruption for 10 or 5 years to be requested in writing, using a special form, from the Swiss Mission (see below - section "Documents");
  • Written declaration that the person has been resident in Switzerland without interruption for 10 or 5 years.

3. Non-restricted acquisition (nationals of the Member States of the EU and EFTA)

Member States of the European Union (EU): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lituania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Tchech Republic, United Kingdom. 

Member States of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA): Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway.

According to the Annex 1 to the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between the EU and Switzerland, to the Protocol on the extension of the Agreement to the new member States of the EU and to the Agreement on the EFTA, the nationals of the member States of the EU and the nationals of the EFTA, who have a Swiss residence permit and who have their principal residence in Switzerland, have the same rights than Swiss nationals regarding acquisition of a property. The acquisition of property is not subject to authorisation in accordance with the legislation on the acquisition of property (art. 5, al. 1, let. a of the federal Law on the Acquisition of Property by Foreigners – LFAIE -, and art. 2, al. 1, of the  federal Ordinance on the Acquisition of Property by Foreigners – OAIE).

The nationals of the member States of the EU and the nationals of the member States of EFTA, who are holders of a B, C, D, E, I, L, P or R legitimation card issued by FDFA and who are living in Switzerland, can acquire a property without prior authorisation and without being subject to any restrictions (principal residence, surface area, ...).

Procedure: the person acquiring the property must submit the following documents to the notary public, of his choice, in charge of the sales contract :

  • B, C, D, E, I, L, P or R legitimation card issued by the FDFA;
  • Attestation by the Swiss Mission of the validity of the legitimation card to be requested in writing, using a special form (see below - section "Documents").

Specialist Contact

Permanent Mission of Switzerland to UNOG
Real Estate and Framework Conditions Section 
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