Importing Your Car from The USA and Overseas

August 08th, 2019 Car Import Share this:


If you are looking at importing your car to Switzerland from outside of Europe; it can prove to be quite costly and complicated. Therefore, it is important to be well informed and to start the process early.

The first and foremost question that needs to be addressed is whether to import your car to Switzerland from outside of Europe or not. There are many factors to weigh up here. While for some people, importing their car from overseas is a good option, for some it is not rewarding at all.

And this is where Autociel helps. We can help you decide if importing your car from overseas is right for you. If yes, we will help you through all steps of the import process.

Things to consider when importing your car from the USA / overseas

American cars, even those manufactured by European brands, are built slightly different from European cars. Thus, they might be more difficult or more expensive to service in Switzerland. This fact also affects the car’s resell value in Switzerland. Here are some things that you need to keep in mind:

  • Standard practice in Switzerland is for expats to sell their non-European cars for 20% under the market price for comparable cars in Switzerland.
  • Another thing to consider is that good 99% of all US insurance companies will not cover your car in Switzerland. So, you will have to register the car in Switzerland as soon as it arrives in Switzerland in order to get Swiss insurance.
  • The sat-nav system that comes in many cars is often faulty or simply does not work in Switzerland. Updating an in-built sat-nav can be complicated and costly. In such situations, Autociel recommends using Tom Tom navigation in Switzerland.
  • Finally, the Radio does not work properly, as only around 50% of the radio frequencies do work in Switzerland.

Car import fees in Switzerland

Swiss VAT on car imports is currently 8% and customs duties are 4% of the current value of the car. In addition to these taxes, there are quite a few other bureaucratic hurdles to deal with.

Here Autociel can save you the trouble and time. Being an expert on importing cars, we can provide you complete assistance in importing the car, registering it under Swiss license plate and help you with your insurance requirements.

Carbon-dioxide emissions tax

In 2012 Switzerland implemented new law requiring taxation on car emissions. Cars with high CO2 emissions values (cars that pollute more) are charged at a higher tax rate than cars with low emissions. The CO2 Exchange in Switzerland (a partner of Autociel, answers questions about the Swiss CO2 car emissions tax and can help reduce the cost of the tax.

Importing a car to Switzerland tax-free

If you buy your car more than six months prior to beginning work in Switzerland it qualifies as part of your “moving goods”, the goods you bring with you as part of your relocation to Switzerland. In this case, you would not have to pay the Swiss VAT or customs taxes on your vehicle, as mentioned above.

Compulsory car testing and vehicle registration

Depending on your car and whether it meets Swiss road standards, you may have to undergo testing by the Swiss car registration authorities. Each Canton has its own road vehicle authority, who follow a common standard. Following testing, you may need to make mandatory modifications to your car in order to continue with the import. Cars with a European Certificate of Conformity can be imported without tests or modifications.

Cars that qualify as tax-free imports must be registered with Swiss license plates within 12 months of arriving in the country. Most overseas insurance companies do not cover the car in Switzerland. Therefore, be sure to check with your insurance provider and find out whether or not they will continue to cover you once you have arrived in Switzerland. If yes, then for how long.

Find professional support

Autociel has been providing expats with cars and related services since 2002. We assess for you, in advance, the cost of importing and registering your car in Switzerland and compare that to the cost of locating and purchasing an equivalent car in Switzerland.

A six-month lead time is ideal for assisting customers but don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have less time to work with.

We are flexible in our approach to find you the right car. With you have the option to buy a car with cash or lease it, so you can give it back when you leave Switzerland.

On average, we export 50 cars from USA, and the number is increasing. We have extensive experience and expertise to import any car from USA for you, with a tiny exception of classic cars.

In case your car needs modifications to meet Swiss road standards, Autociel can provide that service too.

Autociel services for importing your car to Switzerland

Autociel can provide you with the following support on car imports to Switzerland:

  • Calculating the full cost of importing your car before you start the process
  • Assessing whether your car qualifies for a tax-free import
  • Arranging customs clearing for both taxable and tax-free imports
  • Arranging a reduced CO2 tax fee (if your car is less than six months old) through the CO2 exchange program
  • Ordering all the necessary paperworks for the car
  • Arranging the mandatory car testing
  • Arranging registration at the Cantonal road vehicle authority
  • Key-in-hand delivery


If you are looking at importing your car to Switzerland from USA or overseas; get in touch with our experts today!