Arrival duty-free at Swiss airports

On 20 April 2011, the Federal Council adopted the Federal Act on the Purchase of Goods in Duty-Free Shops at Airports, to enter into effect on 1 June 2011. The new law also enables passengers arriving from abroad to shop in duty-free stores in Swiss airports in future. As a result of the anticipated shift in purchases from stores abroad to ones in Switzerland, additional jobs will be created and additional revenue generated in the duty-free shops. SIAA supports the setting up of arrival duty-free sales outlets.

The Federal Act on the Purchase of Goods in Duty-Free Shops at Airports was drawn up on the basis of motion 06.3211 (purchase of duty-free goods on returning from abroad) submitted by National Council member Hans Kaufmann on 11 May 2006.

Arrival duty-free makes economic sense and creates new jobs

The sale of tax-free goods is already practised successfully at Oslo (Norway) and Reykjavik (Iceland) airports, and it makes economic sense for Switzerland too. Purchases that are currently made before departing from an airport abroad can now be shifted to Switzerland. The introduction of the new law is expected to create 60-80 new jobs in sales, logistics and administration and generate additional revenues of around CHF 50-60 million per year.

Strengthening Switzerland as a business location and tourist destination

The new attractive offering for passengers arriving from abroad will further enhance Switzerland as a business location and a tourist destination. Passengers will no longer need to buy duty-free goods before flying and carry them around with them through all the various security checks.

No increase in alcohol and tobacco consumption

The existing limits for importing alcohol and tobacco into Switzerland remain unchanged. Arrival duty-free will therefore not result in people buying and importing more alcohol and tobacco goods into Switzerland. Appropriate safeguards put in place by the relevant sections of the Swiss customs administration will ensure that only those entitled to do so will be able to make duty-free purchases. Switzerland is a signatory to, but has not yet ratified, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as consensus has not yet been reached with respect to the additional protocol. Switzerland therefore does not consider itself bound by the WHO convention.

Arrival duty-free compatible with EU law

Even if the EU does not make provision for arrival duty-free, there are no treaties between Switzerland and the EU that would preclude the tax-free purchase of goods on arrival from abroad. The two EFTA states Norway and Iceland already successfully operate arrival duty-free shops. As Switzerland is also a member of EFTA, the same conditions must also apply.

Existing duty-free stores contribute to value creation

The existing duty-free shops at Swiss airports contribute to value creation in Switzerland. 124 direct and 30 indirect jobs at Swiss airports depend on the sale of tax-free goods to passengers travelling abroad. 30 to 40% of turnover is generated by alcohol and tobacco products, and 60 to 70% by other goods such as perfume and cosmetics.