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03/12/2021

The fundamentals of shipping to Switzerland

Author: Samantha Alexandre

Looking to expand into Switzerland, but prefer not to open a store or distribution center? Instead, you can choose to ship orders to the country from outside locations. Fluent Commerce and Emakina.CH have partnered to create a Global Retail Guide for retailers and brands looking to sell into Switzerland. Keep these factors in mind.

To tax or not to tax, that is the question

While payment types remain similar whether you are selling in Switzerland or only shipping goods into the country, there are nuances for international retailers when it comes to collecting sales tax. Import tax is not levied if CHF does not exceed five.

However, international companies that earn at least 100,000 CHF from small goods will be taxable and enter the Swiss VAT register.


The Swiss tip: consumers expect quick delivery times, whether goods come from a domestic or an international seller.


Consumers expect quick delivery times, whether goods are delivered from a domestic or an international seller.

Accustomed to Swiss customs

When it comes to customs processing time, you need to plan shipping accordingly. On most eCommerce shipments, the average processing time is a minimum of 48 hours. Ensure that this information is either factored in or communicated with customers so you are setting the right expectations on delivery time.

Retailers and brands have two options for crossborder selling: 

– DAP / Delivery at Place:

The seller is responsible for delivering the goods (including transport costs) to the buyer’s destination – explicitly excluding the fees of carrying out all import formalities related to import duty in Switzerland. What does this mean? It means that the buyer is responsible for paying all duties related to the import in Switzerland and the import sales tax.

– DDP / Delivered Duty Paid:

The seller delivers the goods at their own expense and risk to the buyer’s destination. The seller must complete all the necessary formalities, including associated costs, import duties, or customs costs.

The Swiss tip: Switzerland is the only country where we calculate customs duties by weight and not on the product’s value(s).

Handling the shipment of goods

Many of the same carriers in-country apply to shipping goods into Switzerland. However, DHL has set up an extended network that competes with the local company, Swiss Post.

Who pays for return shipping? And how quickly are refunds processed? These are all details you should have ready. Buyers will expect that retailers provide clear communication and outline the returns process, especially when it comes to customs duties.


The Swiss tip: When it comes to shipping a return, consumers expect sellers to include the return shipping label in the package. Otherwise, they should be able to generate a return shipping label online to print or return their online order in-store.


Emakina’s office in Geneva

Switzerland is a wealthy country. And with products being comparatively more expensive to purchase when using the Swiss franc, domestic consumers frequently look for opportunities to spend their money with international sellers where they can typically find products at a lower cost. There is already a considerable swath of the population – 89% – accustomed to and using eCommerce. Plus, Swiss Post is supporting eCommerce growth in the years ahead with advanced delivery technologies.

So, are you ready to expand into Switzerland?

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