The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

National Council decides nothing on shopping tourism in customs law

The National Council does not want to include any measures against shopping tourism in the Customs Act. On Wednesday, it rejected a proposal that the value-free limit for imports should only apply to a limited extent.

The large chamber rejected a minority motion from its Economic Affairs Committee by 123 votes to 59 with four abstentions. This minority demanded that the current exemption limit of CHF 300 should only apply if someone has not received their VAT back after making a purchase abroad.

Leo Müller (center/LU) said on behalf of the minority that well over CHF 10 billion was spent every year via shopping tourism, with a large proportion of imports falling below the exemption limit. This was a disadvantage for businesses in regions close to the border. The centrist party received support on the issue from parts of the SVP and Green parliamentary groups.

Beat Walti (FDP/ZH) criticized that it was merely a "signal expression of opinion" by writing something into the law. A compromise on lowering the exemption limit is well on the way elsewhere - two state initiatives and a committee motion on the subject are pending.

According to Walti, the minority proposal would create a completely nonsensical situation. You would then also have to pay duty on pasta or gifts bought in Milan because there would no longer be any exemption limit.

Doubts were also expressed in the debate as to whether it was even possible to prove that a traveler had not reclaimed the VAT. In this context, Müller and Markus Ritter (center/SG) emphasized that the main thing was to find a solution as part of the consultation on the Customs Act. The Council of States could also make proposals at a later stage as to the exact form this should take.

©Keystone/SDA

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