Switzerland is not a member of the European Union and has its own customs and tax systems, irrespective of European legislation. Any foreign aircraft that lands in Switzerland must be placed under one of the customs statuses provided for in the Customs Act, depending on the purpose and duration of its stay in Switzerland. In principle, the VAT Act imposes a standard rate of 7,7%, which applies equally to the sale, lease, importation and maintenance of an aircraft in Switzerland, as well as any transportation carried out using it.
If an aircraft is placed under temporary admission, inward or outward processing, or transit status, or if it is imported as part of a relocation, there are no import duties, but an authorization – and in some cases, a collateral – is required. Any aircraft that cannot be placed under any other status must be released for free circulation (permanent importation) into Switzerland, following a formal import procedure, and is subject to the payment of import duties, chiefly VAT.
Since 2015, customs authorities have carried out systematic checks on the status of aircraft that are on Swiss territory without having been imported. For those that are, the tax authorities verify that the input VAT deduction claimed by the beneficial owners of the aircraft is justified. Therefore, it is in the beneficial owners’ interest to ensure that they comply with the applicable regulations, in order to avoid exposing themselves to penalties or jeopardizing their time-limited rights to recover all or part of the VAT paid at importation.
Defining the customs status
Since the customs authorities do not publish their interpretation of the law and procedures, it is often difficult to determine whether an aircraft can enjoy a temporary admission status or if it should be imported. Aircraft Import Switzerland can help in determining the customs status of an aircraft.
Import & export procedures
Acting on behalf of the entity importing an aircraft into Switzerland or exporting it abroad, Aircraft Import Switzerland can prepare and follow the relevant procedures, as well as compile the necessary documents, until the new customs status of the aircraft has been approved by the competent customs authority.
Declaration & authorization
In particular, the temporary admission and inward and outward processing procedures, the importation as part of a relocation, the VAT-free purchase and sale of an aircraft on Swiss soil and the regularization of maintenance work carried out abroad require prior authorization, the filing-out of a declaration, or a customs agreement. Aircraft Import Switzerland can help with navigating through these proceedings.
Customs & tax advice
When and to what extent can VAT be recovered? What about exemption from customs duties? How is an activity classified as business/commercial or private/non-commercial as per tax, customs, and air law? Under what conditions can a commercial operator import an aircraft free of duty? Aircraft Import Switzerland provides advice on these and many other issues.
Rulings & Legal opinions
On behalf of the aircraft’s beneficiary owner, Aircraft Import Switzerland can request a formal and binding ruling from the customs and tax authorities regarding, for example, the customs status of an aircraft, the right to import an aircraft free of duty, and the right to recover input tax. Aircraft Import Switzerland can also provide legal opinions on these issues.
Foreign-domiciled importers of an aircraft into Switzerland must register for Swiss VAT and appoint a tax representative. Aircraft Import Switzerland can act on their behalf to manage this requirement, fill out the quarterly VAT returns, apply for the recovery of input tax, manage the importation of maintenance work performed abroad and represent them to the tax authorities.
The Renz & Partners law firm and Wealthings SA are combining their expertise in the aviation, customs and tax fields to provide Aircraft Import Switzerland’s customers with a wide range of services and advice on all matters relating to the customs status of their aircraft and the tax aspects related to the ownership, possession, management, maintenance, and operation of such aircraft under Swiss law. This centralized solution enables Aircraft Import Switzerland’s customers to get answers to all their questions from one source, at optimized rates.
Attorney-at-law | Renz & Partners
Certified Accountant | Wealthings SA
Aircraft Import Switzerland
Aircraft Import Switzerland
Chemin Frank-Thomas 34
CH-1211 Geneva 6