Guidance

Trade with Switzerland from 1 January 2021

How you import from and export to Switzerland will change from 1 January 2021.

New rules for January 2021

The UK has left the EU, and the transition period after Brexit comes to an end this year.

This page tells you what you'll need to do from 1 January 2021. It will be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.

UK-Switzerland trade agreement

The UK has signed a trade agreement with Switzerland.

This guidance provides information on aspects of trade that will change as soon as the UK-Switzerland agreement takes effect. It is for UK businesses trading with Switzerland.

What the agreement includes

This trade agreement includes provisions on:

  • trade in goods – including provisions on preferential tariffs, tariff rate quotas, non-tariff measures including sanitary and phytosanitary measures
  • intellectual property, including geographical indications
  • government procurement

Import tariff rates on goods

Tariff rates for bilateral trade in goods between the UK and Switzerland will continue to apply as soon as the agreement takes effect. However, in some cases, the non-preferential applied rates may in fact be lower because of changes in the UK’s Most Favoured Nation tariff schedule.

You can use online tools trade with the UK and check how to export goods to check product-specific and country-specific information on tariffs and regulations that currently apply to UK trade in goods. These tools are regularly updated to reflect any changes.

Import tariff rate quotas

Tariff rate quotas in the agreement have been tailored specifically to the UK.

To find out the new tariff rate quotas, see tables 5 and 6 of the parliamentary report.

Trade in goods

Trade in agricultural goods

From 1 January 2021, international systems can be used for agricultural goods when importing from, or exporting to Switzerland. This relates to goods covered by plant health, animal feed, seeds and animal health regulations.

Organic goods

Switzerland will recognise imports of UK goods marketed as organic with a certificate of inspection from a UK control body.

The UK will continue to accept Swiss organic imports.

Trade in processed agricultural products

If you export processed agricultural products to Switzerland from the UK, you will not be charged higher tariffs than the EU charge.

Rules of origin

Claiming preferential rates for your exports from the UK

Unless you are permitted to provide an origin declaration, you will need to fill in a certificate of origin to claim preferential treatment.

Updated certificates of origin will be available as soon as the agreement takes effect from your usual provider, for example chambers of commerce. Certificates will look very similar to those currently in use. They will show the UK as the place of origin rather than the EU.

If you currently use an EUR1 form, you will continue to do so. If you currently use an EUR-MED form, you will continue to do so.

Using EU materials and processing in your exports to Switzerland

You can continue to use EU materials or processing in your exports to Switzerland. The UK and Switzerland must have fulfilled the necessary requirements set out in the Rules of Origin Protocol. You must also ensure the working or processing carried out in the UK goes beyond the minimal operations listed in the agreement and the other relevant conditions are met.

For example, you will not be able to simply package or label a product from the EU and export it to Switzerland as a good originating in the UK.

See the list of minimal operations in Article 7 of the Rules of Origin Protocol in the UK-Switzerland trade agreement text.

The ability to consider materials from, or processing carried out in, another country as originating when incorporated into your product is called cumulation.

You should check with the appropriate customs authorities regarding your trade between the UK and Switzerland. In particular, the rules of origin agreed under the UK-Switzerland trade agreement are scheduled to be reviewed no later than 30 months from the date of the trade agreement coming into force.

Using materials and/or processing from other countries in your exports to Switzerland

If both the UK and Switzerland has an agreement with one of the other countries listed in the Rules of Origin Protocol, you can continue using materials, and in some cases, processing from that country in your exports to Switzerland.

You must ensure that the working or processing you do in the UK goes beyond the minimal operations listed in the agreement and the other relevant conditions are fulfilled.

Sending your goods to Switzerland through the EU and other countries

Goods transited through the EU – and any other country with whom cumulation is applicable – will not be subject to the same restrictions as those in transit through other third countries.

For example, you will be able to split a consignment in the EU when exporting goods to Switzerland, provided the goods comprising the consignment have not cleared customs in the EU.

Transit through any other third country is possible provided your goods remain under customs surveillance and do not undergo operations other than unloading, reloading or any operation designed to preserve them in good condition.

Goods in transit and retrospective certificates of origin

If you expect goods to be in transit when the EU-Switzerland trade agreements cease to apply, you can obtain a retrospective certificate of origin. This will show that the goods originated in the UK and are eligible for preferential terms if your goods arrive on, or within 12 months after, the UK-Switzerland trade agreements start to apply.

You can get retrospective certificates of origin from your usual provider as soon as the agreement takes effect, for example chambers of commerce.

Goods originating in Liechtenstein

Goods originating in Liechtenstein will be considered as originating in Switzerland. All the rules of origin relating to Switzerland will also apply to Liechtenstein. References to Switzerland can be read as references to Switzerland including Liechtenstein.

Moving goods through the EU

The UK has signed a transport agreement with Switzerland. The agreement makes sure that UK hauliers can continue to drive in Switzerland using a Community Licence as soon as the agreement takes effect.

Trade in services

The agreement does not cover trade in services. This is because there is no current agreement between the EU and Switzerland which is specific to trade in services. However, we have taken steps to ensure that services trade can continue between the UK and Switzerland from 1 January 2021.

If you’re a UK business providing services in Switzerland, you’ll need to follow Swiss regulations about:

  • getting an authorisation or licence to provide a service
  • complying with local business regulations
  • EEA nationality requirements which could prevent you from providing services in some sectors

You may benefit from the part of the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement which deals with service provision. This would apply to service provision contracts that have been agreed and where implementation has started before 1 January 2021.

Find out more about providing services to Switzerland.

Customs security

If you are directly exporting products to, or importing products from Switzerland, your products may need to undergo additional checks at the border. This is because the continuity of the terms of the EU-Switzerland Customs Security Measures Agreement from 1 January 2021 are subject to further discussion with Switzerland and the EU.

Geographical indications

Geographical indications (GIs) protect the geographical names of food, drink and agricultural products.

Both the UK and Switzerland’s existing GIs remain covered by this agreement. There are 45 UK GIs protected in this agreement.

When the agreement will take effect

The agreement is intended to take effect from 1 January 2021 (or as soon as possible thereafter).

Further information

Find further guidance on exporting to Switzerland from 1 January 2021.

From 1 January 2021, the Northern Ireland Protocol will come into effect. Find out how the Northern Ireland Protocol could affect your business.

Freight forwarding may save you time and money if you’re exporting large volumes of goods or high value items by sea or air freight. Find out more about freight forwarders.

This guidance is for information only. You should consult your legal advisers if you wish to ensure you understand the legal implications of trading from 1 January 2021 for your business.

Contact

If you have queries about trade from 1 January 2021 contact the Department for International Trade (DIT).

Should you wish to speak to someone face to face, we have local trade offices based around the UK. Within each office you can contact an international trade advisor. Find your local trade office.

Published 8 August 2019
Last updated 4 November 2020 + show all updates
  1. Page updated to provide detailed guidance on how to trade with Switzerland from 1 January 2021. This includes information on import tariff rates and rules of origin.

  2. The previous change note was published in error – no significant updates have been made.

  3. Added details of how this agreement differs from the current EU agreement.

  4. First published.