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Switzerland VAT guide

VAT compliance and reporting rules in Switzerland

Below is summary of the major rules provided under Swiss VAT rules (Mehrwertsteuergesetz (MWST) VAT law. MWST-Infos and MWST-Brancheninfos provide supplementary guidance). Check our country VAT guides for other jurisdictions.

Our VAT Calculator & VAT Filer products on a single platform, VAT Calc, are unique in that they come with all of this included out-of-the box for Swiss and scores of other countries around the world.

Switzerland VAT country guide

Highlights Local term Mehrwertsteuer (MWST)
VAT Rates - standard 7.7%
VAT Rates - reduced 3.7%; 2.5%; 0%
VAT number format CHE 123.456.789
Registration threshold Resident: CHF 100,000 pa; Non-resident: nil if worldwide sales exceed CHF 100,000 pa; except low value ecommerce goods (not exceeding CHF 65)  with sales in Switzerland CHF 100,000 pa; 
VAT Group Yes for residents or branches of non-residents
VAT recovery foreign businesses Yes, but requires reciprocity agreement for non-EU businesses
Fiscal Representative Required for non-residents
Currency Franc, CHF
Administration Introduction VAT was introduced in January 2018. Switzerland is not a member of the European Union
VAT laws Mehrwertsteuergesetz (MWST) VAT law. MWST-Infos and MWST-Brancheninfos provide supplementary guidance. Note: Switzerland is not a member of the EU although its VAT laws often shadow the EU VAT Directives and customs rules. Switzerland is a member of Europe EFTA
Tax Authorities Eidgenössische Steuerverwaltung (Federal Tax Administration)
VAT Rates Standard rate 7.7%
Reduced rates 3.7%: accommodation.  2.5%: basic foodstuffs; books and newspapers (including digital equivalent); water; medical and agricultural goods
Zero-rated Exports; services around import and export of goods; international flights
Exempt Education; financial services; public postal services; hospital and medical services; betting and gaming; certain cost sharing arrangements; cultural event admission; immovable property
Scope of VAT Scope of VAT Provision of domestic taxable goods and services; receipt of services or certain goods via the reverse charge; imports; imported sales of goods and electronic services to consumers (see distance selling section)
Time of supply Goods & Services (general rule) Earlier of issuing invoice or payment for taxable service. This includes prepayments. For imported services, at the time of payment.
Reverse Charge Earlier of issuing invoice or payment for reverse charge supply
Continuous  Services No specific rules, so should follow regular time of supply rules
Imports Date of clearance into Switzerland through customs
Goods on approval and return No specific rules, so should follow regular time of supply rules
Registration VAT registration threshold Resident: CHF 100,000 pa; Non-resident: nil if worldwide sales exceed CHF 100,000 pa; except low value ecommerce goods (not exceeding CHF 65)  with sales in Switzerland CHF 100,000 pa; Non-residents providing services exclusively via reverse charge need not VAT register
Voluntary VAT registration Yes, permitted
VAT number format CHE 123.456.789
VAT Group Yes, voluntary for residents and branches of non-residents under common economic, management or commercial strategic control. All members jointly and severally liable to each others VAT.Single return for whole group.
Non-residents Similar to resident companies, except VATthreshold includes worldwide revenues. Must also appoint non-liable fiscal representative
Fiscal Representative Required for non-residents applying for a VAT number. A fiscal representative does not require official certification and is not held jointly and severally liable for their client's VAT
Digital Services Supplies to non-taxable customers of electronic, telecoms are subject to Swiss VAT where foreign provider. This requires a Swiss VAT registration if global revenues about CHF 100,000. Requires a fiscal representative who is not liable for any VAT
Pre VAT registration costs Generally not recoverable, although may be limited circumstances
VAT Invoices Issuance VAT is due to be declared in tax return of period of supply or payment, so should be issued by 60th day following reporting period end. Not required for export sales.
Content Vendor name, address VAT / tax number; date of transaction; name and address of customer; description of goods and services; consideration; VAT amount and/or rate used to enable a calculation to be made
E-invoices Permitted with controls over creation and issueance, plus secuity and integrity
Simplified invoices If not exceeding CHF 400. Customer details may be dropped from regular VAT invoice requirements
Self-billing Permitted without requirements. Although a written agreement between seller and buyer is good practise. 
Retention of invoices 10 years. They should be immediately availble for inspection by the Swiss tax authorities which means for most businesses they should be kept in Switzerland
FX rules No restrictions of quoting major currencies. The rate used need not be discolsed on the invoice. However, for the return, the official daily rate should be used
Invoice corrections Credit or debit notes with reference to original invoice may be applied
Compliance Right to deduct Excluded: business gifts not exceeding CHF 500; non-business related expenditure; spend related to exempt activities
Call-off stock VAT registration exemption for non-residents not available on importation if customer unknown. Import VAT relief is available on imported consignment stock transfers to a Swiss customer by a non-residents. This is treated as outside the scope of Swiss VAT for consignor and reverse charge by consignee. For consignment basement sales, the VAT is due at import but the sale of the goods to the consignee does not happen until there is a sale to the final customer. 
Reverse Charge - B2B B2B or B2C services where non-resident below VAT registration threshold. Consumer only liable to report and register for VAT is there reverse charge supplies pass CHF 10,000.
Cash discounts No credit note or new invoice required; adjustment through the VAT return
Bad debt relief Limited definition,  but may reclaim via VAT return once written off fully in accounting ledgers
Import VAT deferment Imports not exceeding CHF 75 are VAT exempt. Permitted under Centralised Billing Procedure which must be applied for for regular importers. Delays VAT payment by up to 60 days. Does require cash deposit or Swiss bank guarantee
VAT warehouse No VAT warehousing. Customs bonded warehouses with customs duties and VAT suspension.
Supply & install Treated as local supply of goods and therefore liable to local VAT charge. If a non-resident is the supplier, then reverse charge to customer only if non-resident is below the Swiss VAT registration threshold
Use and enjoyment services Not adopted in Switzerland
Capital goods adjustment period Movable property: five years. Immovable property: 20 years
Non-residents VAT recovery Requires reciproicty agreement between Switzerland and country of residency of business. Requires the appointment of a Swiss VAT fiscal representative. One claim per annum permitted by 30 Jun of following year with original invoices, and must exceed CHF 500
VAT on Digital Services Swiss VAT on digital services
Live events
Distance selling threshold for goods Imports are subject to import VAT, payable by the Swiss customer. Non-resident sellers with turnover above CHF must Swiss VAT register, charge and remit the VAT collected
Cash accounting scheme N/a
VAT registered cash tills N/a
Statute of limitations Five years after the end of the accounting period of the transaction(s) or returns
Other The Princeplaility of Liechtenstein has formed a VAT union with Switzerland, which administers compliance on its behalf. Permitted net rate regime for small businesses (less than CHF 5.02m turnover) on application. Filings on bi-annual
VAT Returns Frequency Quarterly. Businesses with regular credit position may apply for monthly filings.
Filing method Electronic
Deadlines (inc payments) Filings and payments due 60 days after reporting quarter end
VAT credits Repayable within 90 days of the return being submitted. Or interest due
Corrections Corrective VAT returns within five years of the end of the year of filing.Through next return or annual finalisation return
Non-residents No major variations from residents. Fiscal representative required
Other filings None
SAF-T N/a
Penalties & interest Late filings or payments will result in first warning and then assessment. 4% interest charge on late payments. Errors in reporting can result in fines up to CHF 800,000 where fraud. 
B2C Distance Selling returns N/a. Registration required by non-resident if global income above CHF 100,000

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