There are many factors to weigh up when deciding whether or not to import your car to Switzerland from outside of Europe. Let's see if we can help you decide whether this is a good option for you or not.
Things to consider when importing your car from the USA / overseas
American cars, even when they are European brands, are built slightly different from European cars. Thus, they might be more difficult or more expensive to service in Switzerland. This fact also affects the car's re-sale value in Switzerland.
What usually happens in Switzerland is that expats sell their non-European cars for 20% under the market price for comparable cars in Switzerland.
Another thing to consider is that 99% of all US insurance companies will not cover your car in Switzerland. You will have to register for Swiss insurance as soon as your car arrives here.
Finally, the sat-nav system that comes in many cars is often faulty or simply does not work in Switzerland. This is because only around 50% of the radio frequencies used by foreign sat-navs to determine your position work in Switzerland. Updating an in-built sat-nav can be complicated and costly.
Swiss VAT on car imports is currently 7,7% and customs duties are 4% of the current value of the car. There are quite a few other bureaucratic hurdles to deal with in addition to these taxes.
Have a look at the the official Swiss customs page for more info on taxes.
How can you import a car to Switzerland tax-free?
If you buy your car more than six months prior to your move to Switzerland it qualifies as part of your 'moving goods', the goods you bring with you as part of your relocation to Switzerland. In this case, you would not have to pay the Swiss VAT or customs taxes mentioned above on your vehicle.
CO2 emissions tax
In 2012 Switzerland implemented new law requiring taxation on car emissions. A recent update from 2021 states that the emissions threshold for taxation has been changed. This tax ensures that cars with high CO2 emissions values (cars that pollute more) are charged at a higher rate than cars with low emissions.
Pro tip: The CO2 exchange in Switzerland is an Autociel partner that can answer questions about the Swiss CO2 car emissions tax and also help reduce the cost of your tax.
Compulsory car testing and vehicle registration
Depending on your car and whether it meets Swiss road standards, you may have to undergo testing by the Swiss car registration authorities.
Each Canton has its own road vehicle authority, but they follow a common standard. Following testing, you may need to make mandatory modifications to your car in order to continue with the import. Cars with a European Certificate of Conformity can be imported without tests or modifications.
Cars that qualify as tax-free imports must be registered with Swiss license plates within 12 months of arriving in the country. Be sure to check with your insurance company to find out whether or not they will continue to cover you once you have arrived in Switzerland, and for how long.
Get professional support from Autociel
Autociel has been providing expats with cars since 2002. They will assess for you, in advance, the cost of importing and registering your car in Switzerland and compare that to the cost of locating and purchasing an equivalent car in Switzerland.
The Autociel team are flexible in their approach to finding the right car for you, so they can help in case you want to find an easier way to import your car from the USA. Thanks to Autociel, you have the option to buy a car with cash or lease it so you can give it back when you leave Switzerland.
Every year Autociel imports 50 cars from the USA, and the number continues to rise. Autociel can import any car from the USA for you. If your car needs modifications in order to meet Swiss road standards, Autociel can provide these services as well.
Ready to find out how Autociel can help you save time and money on your car import?Get expert support
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