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Swiss VAT

Whilst Switzerland is not part of the European Union, it operates a very similar system of Value Added Tax.  Locally, the consumption tax is known as Mehrwertsteuer (MWST), Taxe sur la valeur ajoutée (TVA) or Imposta sul valore aggiunto (IVA).

Switzerland introduced its current VAT system in 1995.  It is operated under the guidance of the Federal Tax Administration.  This provides the rules governing the Swiss VAT registration, returns, compliance and other reporting requirements for non-resident VAT traders.

As with EU member countries, foreign companies importing, buying or selling goods in Switzerland may have to VAT register as a non-resident trader.

Should you register for Swiss VAT?

Switzerland sets a number of situations where it requires foreign businesses to

  • Importation of goods into Switzerland.
  • Buying and selling goods within the country.
  • Selling goods to Switzerland consumers across the web.  Whilst there is no Distance Selling regime in Switzerland, there is a similar registration threshold.  Sales beyond this limit require the appointment of a fiscal representative and a non-resident VAT registration.
  • Holding goods in a warehouse on a consignment stock basis for resale
  • Organising live events and shows with paid-for admission on the door
  • If a company is otherwise a non-VAT trader, but is receiving services in the Switzerland under the reverse charge rule.
  • The self supply of goods.

Switzerland has adopted most the EU place of supply rules for VAT, including use of the reverse charge.  This means that since the EU 2010 VAT Package, there are very few service-related situations which require a VAT registration.

You can read more about Swiss VAT on our VAT compliance, VAT registration or other related briefings.

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