Can a foreigner buy property in Switzerland?

Yes – but if you want to stay in Switzerland for more than 90 days, you will need a residence permit. There are different permits available depending on your requirements. Typically, the majority of persons from abroad will apply for a renewable B permit that allows them to live in Switzerland and also work if they wish. B Permit holders are allowed to purchase any property without having to apply for a separate permit. EU citizens are also allowed to purchase in addition to their domicile home additional homes that would not be used as primary domicile but e.g as vacation homes. The number of properties available to foreign buyers is limited by the Swiss Government.A foreigner can buy an existing property from a foreign owner easily as the permit gets transferred to the new owner. Recent new law stipulates that no new construction for second homes is allowed in Switzerland. This means a foreigner, or a Swiss person, cant build a second home. However, there are new constructions that had their plans granted prior to the new law, and those can still be sold as a secondary residences. There are only limited amount available. The change means property value will appreciate as new-builds will no longer be available.

What is the VAT rate in Switzerland?

The current VAT rate in Switzerland is 7.7%. Certain goods like food, medicines, books are taxed at the favourable rate of 2.5%.

What is the procedure for buying property in Switzerland?

A local Swiss Public Notary will act for both the purchaser and vendor to complete the transaction. He is there to protect the interests of both parties and he will draw up the deeds and documents required for legal ownership.

Once the purchaser has chosen a property, be it a villa, a castle, land, an apartment or a chalet, the purchasing procedure is straightforward through the Notary:

   a. Complete personal details forms and Power of Attorney documentation.
   b. Payment of the agreed deposit to the Notary’s account.
   c. Signing of the deed of sale.

The purchase of an apartment becomes valid once the owner is registered at the Land Register.

All contracts are carried out in Swiss Francs.

If the property is being bought by a non-Swiss resident the Notary will apply on their behalf to the Cantonal authorities for an authorisation permit. The time taken to receive authorisation varies from commune to commune and depends on the current status of permit allowances and allocations in each particular area.

Once the authorisation has been received and the property purchase completed, the notary will record the deed of sale with the Land Register.

What are the purchase conditions for second homes in Switzerland?

An authorisation to purchase must be obtained from the Cantonal Authorities and from the Federal Department of Justice and Police, through a Notary (in Switzerland they are Public Officers).
The non-Swiss may only buy one property of maximum 200 square metres of habitable space per family in Switzerland : family defined as husband and wife and/or under-age children.
Under Swiss Law, an owner or his family may occupy their apartment for up to six months per year. (Twice three months)
The accommodation cannot be rented on an annual basis (maximum 11 months and one week) as an owner is supposed to use his property for at least three weeks of the year.
No authorisation is required for the purchase of a principal residence if the buyer has a B-permit. EU citizens with a residence permit B and all foreigners with a residence permit C can buy as many properties as they want. They are considered in this respect equal to Swiss citizens.

What languages are spoken in Switzerland?

The Swiss have 4 national languages, French, German, Italian and Romanche. We have some useful phrases for you here.

Can you buy a property in Switzerland around the lakes?

Lake property is like any other subject to certain regulations.
The sale of real estate to non-Swiss citizens is subject to several laws. The actual law is named “Lex Friedrich”. Each canton has a yearly quota of properties authorised for sale to non-Swiss. This law is a modification of the “Lex Furgler”. Its goal is to control the purchase of properties in Switzerland by a non-Swiss citizen.

Can you fly to Switzerland?

Yes. Switzerland has one of the finest transportation networks in Europe, being famed for their trains’ punctuality. There are many airports and they are shown in the map above.

Where are the best places to buy Swiss property?

Visit our Swiss property buying guide to see what’s hot and what’s not for foreign buyers. Visit it here.

Where is it difficult to buy in Switzerland?

Avoid rural areas, non-tourist zones, and certain Cantons. Have a look at the rough map on this page, it’ll give you an idea of restricted zones and areas with restrictions. You’d be surprised to know that a well-known tourist spot, like Zermatt, have decided not to let foreigners buy. Many other areas either have a total ban or strict restrictions for foreign buyers.

The Lex Friedrich law sets the guidelines for foreigners buying properties in Switzerland so as to avoid any speculation with regards to real estate. This way the Swiss market remains stable and offers a safe investment.

There are exceptions, for instance:
In certain Swiss Cantons, foreigners can invest money into buildings with a moderate rent. Such as new-build, or multi-apartment blocks, which are rented out for low rent, less than the market value. This makes you exempt from local taxes for a period of up to 20 years. After this the rent can be raised.

What restrictions are there for buying property in Switzerland?

Foreigners as a non-Swiss family can only buy one property.
The size of the property can be of up to 200 square metres in living area. For chalets the plot area is limited to 1000 sqm. When a child of the family reaches the age of 20, they may purchase one property, having proved financial independence.
Certain Cantons restrict the time within which the property can be resold.
The limits vary from Canton to Canton – for example it is not unusual for a buyer to have a restriction of resale within the first five years of ownership. After the time has elapsed it is possible to resell the property, either to a foreign or a Swiss buyer. The rules may have exceptions that after certain criteria are met, resale would be possible at an earlier stage.
An owner can occupy their property for up to six months per year, with three months maximum per stay.
A property can be rented out for a maximum of 11 months and one week per year.
An EU citizen with a Swiss residency permit type B, and anyone with residence permit type C, will have virtually no limitations for buying a property in Switzerland. We suggest you talk to your local notary who will help you to apply for permits.

Are there international schools in Switzerland?

Switzerland has many fine International schools, private schools and also hotel and catering schools. Use the map below to see where they all are. Ready more about them here

Is there inheritance tax in Switzerland?

The rates of inheritance tax vary between Cantons in Switzerland, where some share inheritance tax responsibilities with the municipalities and some levy taxes on their own. Schwyz for example, has no inheritance tax. Visit the Swiss government website to find out more information on Swiss inheritance tax. Rates vary from 0-55%, and tend to be lower for close relatives.

What costs are involved when buying property in Switzerland?

The buyer is responsible for the notary fees, land registry fees and Government purchase taxes, which vary from Canton to Canton. For example, in Valais these will amount to 2.5% of the total property purchase, whereas in Vaud that figure is 5% and in Bern 3%.
Annual expenses
1. Taxes
Owners of second homes in Switzerland are liable to annual taxes, which amount to about 1,3 % of the purchase price p.a.This figure consists of several small taxes including land tax, tourist tax and wealth taxes. Also included is a tax on estimated rental income from the property regardless of whether or not the property is actually rented out during the year.

Taxes are paid to three bodies:
  1. The Swiss Government (Federal tax)
  2. The Canton (Cantonal tax)
  3. The Commune (Communal tax)

With apartments and property with shared areas/facilities the following also apply:
2. Co-ownership charges (about 0.8 % of purchase price p.a.)
Each purchaser acquires a share in the Propriete Par Etage (PPE), which means co-ownership by floor. The total annual costs of an apartment building are shared between the apartment owners, proportioned according to the size of each apartment. It is commonly estimated that the annual running costs of a building are about 0.8 % of the purchase price.

These costs are divided up proportionately between the owners, according to the size of their apartment.

These expenses include:
caretaker / social security contributions
maintenance of building and materials
water / gas / electricity and heating
insurance and various taxes
gardening and maintenance of roads
administration fees and various expenses
an allocation to the building’s renovation fund
The manager (of the co-owned property) collects the relevant amounts covering the total expenses incurred by the building. These are payable quarterly or half-yearly. Every Canton has its own rules, so if you do plan on buying you’d need to find a local Notary.

We can help you with finding an English-speaking Notary, which bank to use, arrange viewing trips, travel, and accommodation.

What currency is used in Switzerland?

The Swiss Franc (CHF)

How many lakes are there in Switzerland?

Switzerland Has 7000 Lakes. Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Switzerland with an area of 580.03 km2.

What is the unemployment rate in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s unemployment rate is roughly only 4.8% (in 2017)

How many Cantons are there in Switzerland?

There are 26 Cantons in Switzerland.

What is the population in Switzerland

The population in Switzerland is roughly 8.5 million.