How to parcel goods to send to Switzerland

22 August, 2018
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Switzerland has a dynamic e-Commerce market that is defined by consumers who are actively looking to buy from overseas businesses.

Cross border buying accounts for around 61% of online purchases so the local market here is receptive to foreign brands. It’s also a market that is expanding at an impressive rate and one that is defined by its wealthy consumers who are some of the biggest online spenders in the European area, ranked behind only the UK. When exporting to Switzerland, the handling of parcels has a key part to play in ensuring customer expectations are met and laying the foundations for an ongoing relationship between individual and brand.

What sort of packaging should I use

From birthday gifts to occasion purchases, goods being purchased online in Switzerland could take any shape or form. It’s important to ensure that you’re using packaging that is fit for purpose and which will protect the goods inside while they are in transit. A strong outer container, such as a box, as well as cushioning materials inside, are often recommended when it comes to packaging choices. It’s also important to ensure that the goods are labeled properly so that there is no delay when it comes to items reaching their destination. Particularly crucial is the inclusion of the destination country, which should appear on the last line of the address, in capital letters, and preferably in the local language.

What customs information do I need

Swiss customs can present an obstacle to anyone looking to send goods to Switzerland – if the rules are not properly adhered to.

  • Customs duties. Switzerland is one of a few countries in the world that still levies customs tariffs on the basis of weight - the threshold at which duties apply rose from CHF 62.50 to 64.90 in 2018. For administrative reasons, customs duties that amount to CHF 5 or less don’t tend to be levied.
  • Duty free. There are some countries with free trade agreements in place with Switzerland and certain goods from those countries may be imported into Switzerland duty free – you can find full details on customs tariffs here.
  • VAT. Most goods coming into Switzerland are subject to the local rate of VAT at 7.7%. However, there are some items which enjoy a reduced rate of 2.5%, such as food products, books, magazines and medication.
  • Customs paperwork. Swiss customs authorities are fastidious about paperwork and if this is not in order are highly likely to delay goods in transit, to x-ray, unbox and make contact with the customer about the goods that are coming into the country. All of this can result in delays to delivery and may also incur additional charges for your customers to pay.
  • There are some items that are subject to customs restrictions and it’s important to check whether these restrictions apply to you before anything is sent. Customs restrictions apply to many obvious goods, such as firearms, but may also apply to other products and materials, such as precious stones and certain natural ingredients like hemp. No matter what your business it’s worth establishing whether your goods are affected before exporting to Switzerland to avoid any unnecessary cost and delays further down the line.

With proper attention to customs detail and the right packaging and labeling, you can enjoy hassle-free access to the Swiss e-Commerce market for your goods.

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