Revised rules on goods imported by passengers

On 2 April 2014, the Federal Council made some changes to the regulations relating to the tax treatment of goods imported by passengers. These came into force on 1 July 2014. Alcohol and tobacco products are now to be counted as part of the CHF 300 value limit for bringing goods into Switzerland. SIAA objects to this aspect of the revision as it fears it will have a negative impact on duty-free and arrival duty-free shopping at Swiss airports.

Arrival duty-free at Swiss airports since 1 June 2011

On 20 April 2011, the Federal Council adopted the Federal Act on the Purchase of Duty-Free Goods at Airports, which came into effect on
1 June 2011. This created the legal basis to permit passengers arriving from abroad to also buy tax-exempt goods in duty-free stores. In creating the legal framework for arrival duty-free shopping, the government was following the wishes of the Federal Assembly. Jobs were to be created and additional revenue generated as a result of the anticipated shift in purchases from stores abroad to ones based in Switzerland.

Major investment in arrival duty-free infrastructure and passenger information

In addition to the construction and operational measures required to set up the sales outlets at Swiss airports, launching arrival duty-free shops also entailed considerable efforts to inform passengers of the new arrangements. Passengers were informed via various communication channels not only about the new service being offered, but also proactively about the applicable duty-free allowances and value limit.

Arrival duty-free created around 70 new jobs at Swiss airports

Following an extensive campaign, Swiss passengers have become familiar with arrival duty-free shopping. The concept has become successfully established on the market and has shown steady double-digit growth rates. It is therefore a major contributor to the attractiveness of Swiss airports. As well as providing an enhanced offering for passengers, 48 new jobs were created at Zurich Airport and 20 at Geneva Airport.

New rules for passengers two years after arrival duty-free launched

When planning arrival duty-free shopping, the airports based their calculations on passengers being able to bring alcohol and tobacco products into the country as part of their duty-free allowance over and above the value limit of CHF 300 per person. The proposed change in the legislation presents arriving passengers with a new situation which could lead to a drop in purchases at airport duty-free stores. Under the new rules, passengers returning to Switzerland who have already used up their CHF 300 value limit will face additional costs to import any further tax-free goods. SIAA anticipates that passengers will simply no longer make purchases in arrival duty-free shops, which will result in a drop in sales of high-quality products in the spirits, tobacco, perfume and cosmetics ranges.

Loss of income will undermine competitiveness of Swiss aviation industry

There is a direct correlation between flight operations and some of the commercial activities at airports. Lower revenues from arrival duty-free stores will therefore lead to increased airport charges and consequently damage the economically important competitiveness of Switzerland’s aviation industry. This clearly flies in the face of the 2004 report on Swiss civil aviation policy which stated that "Swiss aviation is vitally important for the Swiss economy".