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Refund of the Value Added Tax (VAT) to companies with their residential or business domicile on foreign territory

Basic requirements

In order to claim the VAT, the following basic requirements must be fulfilled cumulatively by the applicant:

  • Place of residence, of business or permanent establishment must be abroad
  • No VAT-Registration in Switzerland or Liechtenstein (no tax liability according to Article 10 VAT law)
  • Must not render supplies in Switzerland
  • Furnish proof of entrepreneurial status (business status) in the state of residence or business domicile
  • Invoices submitted must meet the formal requirements according to Article 26 Para. 2 VAT law and must correspond with the refund period
  • Refund of the tax is conditional on the state of residence or place of business or of the permanent establishment of the applicant enterprise granting a corresponding reciprocal right (for more information please see "reciprocal right")
  • Only one application can be submitted per year
  • A VAT refund is not possible for a total amount of less than 500 Swiss Francs

Formal requirements

  • The application for a VAT refund must be submitted with the official forms approved by the Federal Tax Administration (forms no. 1222 and 1223). Non-official forms will not be accepted.
  • The applicant must appoint a representative with place of residence or business in Switzerland. For applications submitted in Liechtenstein, a representative must be appointed with place of residence or business in Liechtenstein. Authority must be proven for each application submitted by filling in form no. 1222.

A new procedure concerning services obtained in 2012 from providers domiciled both in Switzerland and Liechtenstein is effective as of 1.1.2012:

VAT charged from service providers / suppliers in Switzerland or Liechtenstein will be refunded by the respective state. Therefore, a separate application must be submitted to the competent authority in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Since import taxes are levied by the Swiss Customs Authority, VAT refund on imports will only be carried-out by the Swiss competent authority, the Federal Tax Administration (FTA).

A mimimum amount of CHF 500 (refundable tax) is applicable for refunds in each state. Also, a representative must be appointed in every state.

Please note, that the new procedure concerning VAT refund for Switzerland and Liechtenstein will be published in our brochure (MWST-Info 18, only available in German, French and Italian) at a later date. As of 1.1.2013 point 6.4 of this publication is no longer applicable.

Deadline for submission

The application for VAT refund can be submitted from 1 January to 30 June of the following calendar year. The deadline (30 June) cannot be extended (date of postmark).

Reciprocal right

In accordance with Article 152 Para. 1 of the Value Added Tax Ordinance, reciprocal right is applicable if:

a) enterprises with their place of residence or place of business in Switzerland
have the right to claim refunds in the foreign state concerned of the VAT paid
on supplies acquired there, which in scope and restrictions is commensurate
with the right of input tax deduction, which enterprises resident in the foreign
state enjoy;
b) in the foreign state concerned a tax comparable with the Swiss VAT is not
levied; or
c) in the foreign state concerned a different type of sales tax from the Swiss VAT
is imposed, which affects enterprises with their place of residence or place of
business in the foreign state in the same way as enterprises with their place of
residence of place of business in Switzerland.

The Federal Tax Administration (FTA) maintains a list of states with which a reciprocal right decalaration has been exchanged. If a state is not listed, the applicant may prove otherwise that requirements according to Art. 152 Para. 1 are met. The FTA will take this evidence into consideration, if the following requirements
are fulfilled:

  • The applicant must furnish proof of registration for VAT purposes in the country
  • of residence, stating that one of the conditions mentioned in Art. 152 Para. 1 of the Value Added Tax Ordinance (lit. a, b or c) is fulfilled in the respective country.
  • The confirmation has to be issued in one of the official languages of Switzerland (German, French, and Italian) or in English. If that is not the case, an authorized translation into one of the official languages (certified by a notary) must be furnished.
  • If - after having examined the facts - the FTA arrives at the conclusion that reciprocal right is granted, the VAT will be refunded. The corresponding list will be updated and supplemented at the end of each year.

Further information

Further information about VAT recovery is available in German, French or Italian only.

Type: PDF

Most recent changes: 07.02.2014

Contact a specialist Value Added Tax VAT
Last updated on: 18.07.2014

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