As English is not one of Switzerland's official languages, only the most important information concerning the Administration is translated into English. This translation is provided for information purposes only and has no legal force. Please refer to the German, French or Italian original version.
Please note: As of 1 January 2018, all companies that are domiciled in Switzerland or that provide supply of goods or supply of services in Switzerland will become liable to VAT, if they generate a worldwide turnover of at least CHF 100 000 p. a. resulting from taxable or zero-rated supplies.
Whoever carries on a business, i.e. independently performs a professional or commercial activity with the aim of sustainable income from supplies and acts vis-à-vis other persons under his own name is in principle liable to tax. This also applies to companies based abroad which operate in Switzerland.
Whoever generates an annual turnover of less than CHF 100 000 from taxable or zero-rated supplies is exempted from tax unless he or she waives exemption from tax liability and enters voluntary in the register of taxable persons.
More detailed information on tax liability in the case of value added tax can be found in MWST-Info 02 Steuerpflicht available only in French, German and Italian.
Companies domiciled abroad which exclusively provide supplies that are tax exempted or supplies of services subject to reverse charge on Swiss territory are – among others – exempt from tax liability.
For any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact our employees in the Collection Division.
Questions & Answers on the VAT Liability of Foreign Companies
If a foreign company performs a contract for work and labour on Swiss territory, tax liability is triggered in the case of an annual worldwide turnover (at least CHF 100 000) irrespective of whether material is supplied or not. Further information can be found in MWST-Info 06, Ort der Leistungserbringung, and in publication no. 52.02 from the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security, «contracts for work and labour and supply of goods after processing in Switzerland», available only in French, German and Italian.
Persons who are taxable must register online with the FTA in writing within 30 days of the commencement of their tax liability (Anmeldung bei der MWST). In this regard, please note that the person/company must appoint a tax representative with a place of residence or business in Switzerland. In addition, a bank guarantee by a Swiss bank or a cash payment must be provided for the statutory monetary claims.
As of 1 August 2017, the security for a taxable person not resident or domiciled in Switzerland will be calculated differently.
If a taxable person not resident or domiciled in Switzerland is not entered in the commercial register, a security needs to be provided in order to complete the registration for VAT purpose. Said security is usually paid in cash or by setting up a bank guarantee with a bank domiciled in Switzerland.
Previously, the security generally corresponded to the amount of the annual tax expected to be payable. It amounted to at least CHF 5000 and at most CHF 250 000.
As of 1 August 2017, the security will be calculated as follows:
- 3% of the expected taxable domestic turnover (excl. exports)
- Minimum amount: CHF 2000
- Maximum amount: CHF 250 000
The FTA reserves the right to use other calculation methods in special cases. The new calculation method cannot be applied retroactively.
According to the revised Swiss VAT act that will come into force on 1 January 2018, the turnover threshold under which a person is exempt from tax liability is not limited to the turnover generated in Switzerland anymore. Therefore, foreign companies will need to register for VAT purposes in Switzerland if their global turnover reaches CHF 100 000 p.a. and part of that turnover has been generated locally in Switzerland.
As of 1 January 2019, a company based abroad supplying low-value goods to Swiss customers will be liable for Swiss VAT, if the turnover generated with such supplies reaches CHF 100 000 p. a.
Foreign taxable persons without a domicile or place of business on Swiss territory must appoint a representative to perform their procedural obligations who has his domicile or place of business on Swiss territory. A natural person or legal entity with a place of residence or business in Switzerland is recognised as a tax representative. As such, the representative does not necessarily need to be a fiduciary, a lawyer or a member of a specific occupational group; it can also be a private individual. An online registration without the appointment of a Swiss tax representative is not possible.
Contact by phone (German)
Federal Tax Administration
Main Division VAT
Last modification 20.07.2023