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Import / Export

Except for ethanol for industrial purposes, private persons are allowed to import alcohol in several forms, for example spirits, liqueur wine, vermouth, foodstuffs and aromas containing alcohol, etc. A tax - the so-called monopoly tax - is levied on imported goods. The products are taxed at a standard tax of CHF 29.00 per litre of pure alcohol (100 %).


This tax is reduced by 50 % for natural wines made from fresh wine grapes with an alcohol content of more than 18 but maximum 22 % vol of alcohol, and wines made from fruits, berries or other raw ingredients with an alcohol content of more than 15 but maximum 22 % vol of alcohol. The same applies for wine specialities, liqueur wines, Mistells, vermouth wines and other wines made from fresh grapes - aromatized with plants or other substances - with an alcohol content of maximum 22 % vol. Therefore the fiscal taxation amounts to CHF 14.50 per litre of pure alcohol. A special tax of CHF 116.00 per litre of pure alcohol is levied on alcopops.
Only the Swiss Confederation is entitled to import products which contain 80 % by volume alcohol and more. It is the customs authorities that collect the taxes at the border on behalf of the Swiss Alcohol Board (SAB). Importers who have their own tax-free warehouses authorised by the SAB, are entitled to transport spirits from the border to their own bonded warehouses without paying the monopoly tax. Not until the goods leave the bonded storage system is the monopoly tax due and must be paid for. Within the tax-free warehouses spirits can be produced, processed, stored, matured, bottled and kept ready for dispatch/export. They can also be transferred from one tax-free warehouse to another with the necessary waybills. Anyone importing spirits for commercial purposes must abide by the relevant regulations.


Non-taxed imports

Alcoholic products that are not intended for drinking purposes such as perfume, medicines, varnishes, detergents as well as products with an alcohol content not exceeding 1.2% by volume (e.g. pastries and chocolate) can be imported free of alcohol taxes. Also tax-free are alcoholic beverages (spirits), which are brought into the country by travellers, but not exceeding the following quantities:

  • 5 litres up to 18 % by volume, and
  • 1 litre over 18 % by volume.

This tax-free "supply for the journey" is only granted to persons aged 17 and over.

Imported quantities

About 85 % of the spirits consumed in Switzerland originate from abroad. Among the most imported spirits are whisky, vodka, liqueurs, bitter drinks, aperitif, vermouth wines, wine specialities, liqueur wines and as well as rum.

Export of spirits and alcoholic products

About 80 Swiss distilleries and enterprises which produce spirits and alcoholic foodstuffs regularly export their products to foreign countries. If goods are exported the SAB refunds the paid alcohol taxes. Tax-free warehouses enjoy a special status, i.e. they export the spirits under tax exemption.


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