Entering Switzerland with your importing personal items
As Switzerland is not a member of the EU, persons crossing into Switzerland are subject to border controls. Persons who are planning to stay in Switzerland for a lengthy duration are advised to make appropriate enquiries and arrangements in advance. In addition, certain formalities need to be observed when importing personal items such as household effects, domestic pets, foodstuffs or private vehicles into Switzerland.
The responsible local Swiss consulate or embassy will be pleased to provide information about the terms and conditions of entry to Switzerland, as well as details of visa, passport or ID requirements. For longer stays in Switzerland, newcomers are recommended to bring with them the most important original documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, insurance policies, employment testimonials and academic certificates, medical prescriptions, entry permits etc.
Visa, passport, ID card
Citizens of Western European countries can enter Switzerland upon presentation of a valid ID card. For entry from Eastern European countries and overseas, a valid passport is required. Tourist visas or visas for entry for employment purposes are issued by Swiss consulates, sometimes in consultation with the relevant cantonal authorities.
Basel can be reached by land, by air or by water. Border checks are usual. Such checks entail the presentation of personal documents and the provision of information about any goods being carried which may be subject to customs duty. Because Switzerland is not part of the European Union, the Swiss border also represents an external border of the European Union. As a consequence, both sides may impose more stringent border controls.
Importing household effects
Certain formalities need to be observed when relocating one's place of residence to Basel. Once the Swiss entry permit has been obtained, this can be used to bring personal household effects into the country ' either by airfreight through EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg or by road vehicle via one of the major customs crossings, such as the motorways at Basel Weil or Basel St. Louis. It is advisable to report major shipments in advance. As a rule, offices at the major customs crossings are open from 7a.m. to 5.30 p.m. In general, the import of used goods is not subject to customs duty. Necessary documents include all personal papers as well as the notice of departure from the country of origin, the entry permit, and possible signed rental agreements in Switzerland, and a complete list of the articles which are being imported.
Dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies. Dogs must be registered with the relevant authorities within 14 days of arrival. A dog license is payable after 3 months. Prior approval must be obtained for certain dog breeds, as well as for unusual or dangerous animals. For more information, contact the 'Kantonale Veterinäramt' (Cantonal Veterinary Office).
As Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, imports of foodstuffs into Switzerland are essentially subject to customs duties. However, a customs-free allowance is permitted for small quantities; these quantities are precisely defined.
Importing private vehicles
Those who bring their own cars with them for a longer stay in Switzerland must declare this to customs officials at the border. In the case of older or more exotic vehicles, registration in Switzerland may need to be clarified in advance. This is because very expensive mechanical alterations may be required. If the automobile is less than six months old, then customs duty must be paid. All car papers, insurance documents as well as the driving license should be carried in the automobile while it is being used. Vehicles can be registered for road-worthiness checks soon after being brought into Switzerland or can continue to be driven for a maximum of one year with foreign number plates, a foreign driving license and foreign vehicle documents. Before this deadline expires, owners are automatically instructed to present their vehicles to the responsible authorities for road-worthiness and exhaust gas checks. These authorities also issue new vehicle documents and Swiss license plates. The level of vehicle tax imposed on motor vehicles depends upon the type and the age of the vehicle.
Importing problematic goods
The import of problematic goods, such as for example exotic plants, is subject to particular regulations. These regulations are detailed in special leaflets of the "Eidgenössische Zollverwaltung".