Jan 14, 2022
Katharina Knoop

Shipping to Switzerland - What online merchants need to know

Online shopping is easier and more popular than ever before. Especially in times of a global pandemic…

Shipping to Switzerland - What online merchants need to know

Online shopping is easier and more in demand than ever before. Especially in times of pandemic, demand has risen and more and more customers prefer to resort to contactless and uncomplicated shopping in front of their home screens.

For online retailers, this means being able to reach customers from all over the world with just a few clicks. However, this is accompanied by the challenge for them of ensuring a smooth customer journey - after all, customer relationships abroad should not suffer as a result of the goods sold crossing the border and the associated complications.  

In this article you can read which details are particularly important when exporting goods to Switzerland and how you can make your customers happy even beyond the country's borders with a partner like exporto.

Shipment of goods to Switzerland

Switzerland: That's mighty mountains, clear lakes, delicious chocolate and endless opportunities in the e-commerce market.

No wonder, with 8.5 million accessible inhabitants and a purchasing power that is three times higher than the European average according to Germany's largest market research institute, GfK. Added to this is a value-added tax of just 7.7% and an extremely low returns rate among Swiss customers. Another plus point is that the Swiss e-commerce market is growing much faster than that in Germany or Austria.  

So why don't more entrepreneurs take advantage of these attractive benefits?

In addition to the preparation of the import declaration at the customs and the VAT declaration, this also includes a necessary fiscal representation in Switzerland or the existence of special documents. A simple returns solution must also not be forgotten in order to offer Swiss customers the same service as domestic customers. Fulfilling all these requirements is time-consuming, complicated and expensive - and store operators often simply lack the appropriate resources and the necessary know-how.

We have summarized the most important requirements that must be observed when exporting to Switzerland and how you can fulfill them most efficiently:

1. import declaration customs

For smooth export to Switzerland, goods sold must first be declared to Swiss customs. This is where you encounter the first special feature of our neighboring countries - because Swiss customs is the only one in the World Trade Organization that uses the weight of the item to calculate the customs duty, and not its value, as other trading nations do.

The gross weight must therefore first be determined for each package in order to obtain the weight required for customs clearance. For operators of online stores, this process would mean a considerable additional effort in terms of both time and personnel, which is why they usually have no choice but to declare their entire daily import as a single delivery to customs. As a result, the total weight of their deliveries regularly exceeds the specified weight allowancesso that a customs fee is incurred. Moreover, if even important information or documents are missing, the shipment is blocked at customs and not forwarded. As a result, not only is delivery to the customer delayed, but additional customs duties or fines may even be incurred.

Nothing that leads to happy customers and thus one more reason to work with experts.


Copyright: Shutterstock


The professionals at exporto can help. In contrast to the time-consuming and expensive collective customs clearance, exporto weighs and clears each package individually. This means that deliveries usually remain below the customs border and thus duty-free.

The best thing is that what takes hours to do manually is fully automated with exporto and thus happens in seconds - saving time, personnel and reliably delivering all the required data without gaps.

2. tax levies

The next requirement to consider when selling to Switzerland is to comply with tax law: any company that has a worldwide turnover of more than 100,000 euros and does business in Switzerland is required to pay taxes there.

Not only does it have to be registered with all relevant offices in Switzerland and file a quarterly tax return - above all, it also needs direct fiscal representation by a Swiss company.

This then takes over necessary tasks such as official registration, tax administration, accounting of annual sales, on-site correspondence for Swiss customers and authorities as well as VAT accounting.

Sounds complicated and time-consuming? It doesn't have to be - with exporto at your side, you don't have to worry about all that anymore. As a company with its registered office in Kreuzlingen, exporto not only offers the necessary fiscal representation, but is also authorized to act on behalf of its customers before the Swiss authorities and to reliably take care of all tax-related specifics.

3. shipping and return

The shipping process as well as the possibility of an uncomplicated returns handling are decisive factors for an all-around positive customer experience. According to a survey conducted by Statista, in addition to extra costs for taxes and fees, shipping costs are by far the most serious reasons for abandoning an online purchase. All the more reason, therefore, to act in a particularly transparent and cost-effective manner in this regard - and to rely on a partner who knows the ropes.

For particularly cost-effective and fast shipping, exporto digitally integrates itself into the supply chain of its partners and, in addition to its own fleet of vehicles and personnel, also uses optimally coordinated shipping routes.

exporto creates additional familiarity by handing over the shipment to the domestic carrier - Swiss Post. Delivery by the old familiar letter carrier goes a long way to ensuring that the Swiss don't even notice the parcel crossing the border and that the shopping experience feels 'local' to them.

Even in the event of a return, nothing changes for the Swiss customer's procedure. He simply and conveniently sends his package to the Swiss exporto warehouse in Kreuzlingen, from where it is quickly and safely transported back to the online store. Just as if it had never been abroad. A returns solution like this has a positive effect on the conversion rate - because many customers check out the possible return conditions before making a purchase.

4. regional specifics

Although our neighbors speak the same language as we do, at least in parts of Switzerland , German online retailers are quick to overlook important regional terms, a correct currency display or the locally preferred payment provider. If such subtleties are not taken into account, the reliability of the online store quickly suffers and important customers may be lost as a result.

So here it is advantageous to rely on local know-how and to get support from professionals who know the preferences of the Swiss.

Here, too, exporto provides its customers with native access to the markets themselves but also to influencers or the local press for a perfect presence in the Swiss market.

Thanks to exporto, simply say 'Grüetzi' to new, happy customers!

Where companies would fail on their own due to a lack of human and time resources, exporto can help them ship lucratively to Switzerland and gain new, happy customers in the process.

In this way, both sides of the export business benefit at once:

1. the online trader,

who can concentrate on selling his goods while gaining a market with high purchasing power in Switzerland. Thanks to Switzerland's low VAT rate, he increases his own margin with every purchase and, in addition to shopping cart transactions, also increases sales many times over - without having to change his own processes.

2. the Swiss customer,

who can enjoy cheap, fast and reliable shipping and for whom it feels as if they are shopping in a domestic online store -entirely without unpleasant additional payments at the front door.

This is a classic win-win situation, as exporto simply makes the border between Germany and Switzerland disappear for everyone involved. 

Do you want to expand your business to Switzerland and have exporto on your side? Then contact us simply and without obligation via our contact form. We look forward to getting to know you and your store.

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