A duty-free shop for members of personnel of the permanent missions and international organisations with diplomatic status, as well as foreign delegates and experts on mission with diplomatic status
The Swiss authorities authorised the opening of a duty-free shop (Magasin hors taxes) in December 1995 to enable persons with diplomatic status to purchase duty-free goods for their own personal use. Those eligible include :
- Heads of mission and members of the senior management (holders of a "B" legitimation card),
- Diplomatic agents and high ranking officials (holders of a "C" legitimation card),
Foreign delegates of member States or of intergovernmental organisations attending international conferences, foreign delegates of States and of intergovernmental organisations with observer status at international conferences, and experts on mission whose rank is equal to that of a diplomatic agent (such persons are granted access to the duty-free shop for the duration of their participation at the conference).
Family members of the heads of mission, members of the senior management, diplomatic agents and high ranking officials who enjoy the same status as the principal accredited person (holder of a "B" or "C" legitimation card or holder of a Ci permit issued in exchange for a "B" or "C" legitimation card) may gain access to the duty-free shop by showing the "customer card" issued to the principal accredited person (see "Access to the duty-free shop") and their own legitimation card or Ci permit. Children under 16 years of age of the above-mentioned persons may enter the duty-free shop only if accompanied by the principal accredited person, or by the spouse who is entitled to shop there.
Family members accompanying a foreign delegate or expert on mission with diplomatic status may only have access to the duty-free shop if accompanied by the delegate or expert entitled to use it.
Persons entitled to access the duty-free shop (according to the definition above) must show their legitimation card on each occasion. On their first visit they will be issued a personalised “customer card”. On future occasions, it must be shown together with the legitimation card when entering the shop and at the time of payment.
Foreign delegates and experts on mission must show their identification each time they enter the duty-free shop. On the first occasion, they are required to submit a form entitled "Authorisation of access to the Geneva duty-free shop" (No 14.65). The form is provided to foreign delegates by the secretariat of the international conference they are attending and, in the case of experts, by the international organisation to which they are responsible for a particular mission. The form must be completed and certified by the international organisation providing it. International organisations can obtain the form from the Directorate of Customs in Geneva (see details below).
Access to the duty-free shop and the purchase of duty-free items is a non-transferable right reserved for those persons who are eligible as described above. With the exception of a family member who is entitled to have access to the duty-free shop (see "Family members"), they may not be represented by a third party (such as a private servant, another member of the organisation, etc.). Moreover, eligible persons must comply with the regulations of the duty-free shop and submit to the control procedures introduced with the consent of the Swiss authorities.
With the exception of fresh or frozen foodstuffs, the range of products is vast and the assortment is adapted to supply and demand.
The following merchandise may be purchased in the quantities specified during each quarter for the person eligible (principal beneficiary) :
- Alcoholic beverages in excess of 25°: 50 litres
- Wine, champagne: 300 litres
- Other alcoholic beverages of less than 25°: 60 litres
- Cigarettes: 7'000 units
The quarterly periods mentioned above correspond to the terms at the end of March, June, September and December.
The purchase of quantities in excess of these maxima is not allowed during the same quarter.
Neither is it allowed to claim a part of the quota of the following quarter nor the unused portion of the previous quarter. Eligible persons may, at any time, easily verify the quantity of merchandise to which they are still entitled in the current quarter in the duty-free shop.
Merchandise acquired through direct importation, in particular that from commercial enterprises that specialise in supplying beneficiaries of diplomatic privileges and immunities with duty-free goods, is not subject to these regulations.
The re-sale or transfer of items purchased at the duty-free shop, with or without payment, is strictly forbidden by current legislation. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Berne reserves the right to take measures against those persons who do not abide by their obligations in this respect or by the conditions under which access to the duty-free shop is granted.