Legal foundations

The most important legal foundations for the Federal Customs Administration are customs law and customs tariff law.

Customs law essentially comprises the Customs Act of 18 March 2005, the Customs Ordinance, the Customs Ordinance of the Federal Department of Finance and the Customs Ordinance of the Federal Customs Administration.

The Customs Act governs:

  • the monitoring and controlling of the movement of goods and people across the customs border;
  • the levying of customs duties;
  • the levying of duties in accordance with non-customs federal laws, to the extent that their enforcement is the responsibility of the Customs Administration;
  • the implementation of the non-customs provisions of the Confederation and the fulfilment of tasks, to the extent that their enforcement is the responsibility of the Customs Administration.

The customs procedures are broadly in keeping with those of the European Union and are envisaged for the following customs legal provisions: release into free circulation, transit, customs warehouses, temporary admission, inward and outward processing, and export.

Fundamentally all goods that are brought across the customs border must be declared for customs assessment and procedures to the Customs Administration. Simplifications in tourist traffic and in commercial goods traffic are possible.

Even after Switzerland's accession to Schengen, customs checks are carried out because Switzerland does not constitute a customs union with the European Union.

The currently valid customs law entered into force on 1 May 2007.

The Customs Tariff Act contains the legal principles relating to the customs tariff principles with the general tariff (legally permitted top rates) and the working tariff (currently applicable duty rates).