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How to Relocate Your Household & Pets to Switzerland

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  • Andrey Vasilyev

    I was able to connect with other expats in Zurich who enjoy cycling as much as I do and organize weekly rides.

If you are wondering how to relocate to Switzerland, you are not alone. The tiny alpine country continually ranks high on lists of popular expat destinations. From its high quality of life, admirable salaries, and efficient, but expensive, healthcare system, Switzerland provides a sublime way of life for all who live there.

This relocation guide will help walk you through the steps of what it takes to relocate Switzerland. We list the various relocation steps and process so that your international is seamless and stress-free.

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Moving and Shipping Household Goods

The process of how to move household items and belongings to Switzerland is easy but requires a good deal of formality and paperwork. You will need documentation proving that you are transferring from one home to another. You also need to prove that all items you are bringing with you have been used by you for at least the past six months, so you can avoid paying import tax.

How to Ship Household Items and Belongings

In addition to the customs form, other documents you may be asked to present in order to prove your transfer of domicile include:

  • employment contract
  • rental lease
  • itemized list of goods you are importing
  • confirmation of departure notice from previous country

Nationals from EU/EFTA countries may not be subject to as many customs regulations for Switzerland as third-country nationals. However, if you are traveling with all of your personal and household possessions, it is a good idea to have these documents and prevent any unforeseen hiccups.

There are many different shipping options for moving your stuff to Switzerland. In addition to driving your goods over the border with you, Switzerland also allows for air freight, ground transportation, and even boat transport.

Switzerland Customs Allowances

As long as you can prove the items are for personal use and not for sale, you should experience few restrictions when importing items to Switzerland. With a quarter of its population being foreigners, you will not need to stress over what to pack when moving to Switzerland as it is easy to good many foreign goods there.

Excess quantities of agricultural goods and “sensitive items” are subject to customs restrictions. It is also a good idea to check the customs website for a detailed list of prohibited and restricted items when moving to Switzerland. In general, any items falling under the following categories may be subject to a customs restriction (not including animals):

  • cash, foreign currency, securities
  • narcotics
  • cultural property
  • medicines
  • plants
  • radar warning devices
  • weapons


If bringing a vehicle into Switzerland, duty will need to be paid. Your vehicle should be declared at the Swiss border during the Customs office regular hours. The documents you will need to include for assessment are:

  • invoice or contract of sale
  • vehicle registration document/certificate
  • proof of identity (passport, identity card, etc.)
  • import customs declaration
  • proof of origin from seller, if possible

On average, the duty rate should be 12–15 CHF (12–15 USD) per 100 kg gross weight of the car. This is the same for new and used vehicles.

You will need to register your vehicle with the correct cantonal authority within one year of moving to Switzerland.

Home Goods Storage

Because finding a permanent home in Switzerland may take some time, expats moving to this European country may be interested in long- and short-term storage options. There are plenty of companies providing these services. Prices vary from below 50 CHF (50 USD) and into the hundreds.

The vaccinations required for Switzerland are the same ones required for most of western Europe and North America. If you plan on taking part in any of Switzerland’s popular outdoor activities, such as hiking or white-water rafting, you will want to make sure you are current on these shots.

What Vaccinations do I need for Switzerland?

  • hepatitis A
  • hepatitis B
  • rabies
  • meningitis
  • polio
  • measles
  • mumps and rubella
  • TDAP
  • Chickenpox
  • Shingles
  • Pneumonia
  • Influenza

There are no legal vaccination requirements for immigration to Switzerland. There are no health requirements for immigrations into Switzerland either.

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Moving with Pets

If you are thinking of moving to Switzerland with your pets, it is easy to do so as long as you are prepared. Pets are common in Switzerland and most shops and restaurants allow them inside without the need of being a service animal.

How Can You Bring Pets into Switzerland?

One of the first steps to ensure your pet’s relocation to Switzerland is to have proof of a recent rabies vaccine. If you are from a country that the EU considered low-risk for rabies, you will need to prove that your pet has been vaccinated within the past year. If you are from a country that is considered high-risk, your pet will need to be vaccinated within 30 days of your arrival and have a rabies titer test done in Switzerland within your first three months of living in the country.

In addition to a rabies vaccine, if you are bringing your dog, cat, or ferret into Switzerland they must be microchipped with a 15-digit ISO compatible chip. Most animals, including rodents and even some aquatic animals, can enter Switzerland at any border. Birds, however, can only enter through the airports in Zurich and Geneva. Owners of animals deemed “exotic” should check whether or not their pet is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

As long as you provide the proper documentation, pets are rarely quarantined in Switzerland.

Dogs and Cats

Puppies and kittens less than eight weeks old may not be brought into Switzerland. Puppies and kittens that are more than eight weeks old, but less than three months, can only enter if they are still dependent on their mother.

Certain breeds of dogs are banned from entering Switzerland, or they must meet specific requirements within their first three months of arriving in the country. For example, in Geneva the following dog breeds are only permitted if you can prove they lack a history of aggression, if they complete a training course in Switzerland, and live in a one-dog household:

  • American Staffordshire
  • Boerboel
  • Bullmastiff
  • Cane Corso
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • Fila Braziliero
  • Mastiff
  • Matin Espagnol
  • Matin de Naples
  • Pit Bull
  • Presa Canario
  • Rottweiler
  • Thai Ridgeback
  • Tosa Inu

In Zurich, the breeds that must meet these same requirements are:

  • American Staffordshire Terriers
  • Bull Terriers
  • Staffordshire Bull Terriers

Depending on your canton, Savannah and Bengal cats may face restrictions. Check with your specific cantonal authority to make sure.


Horses will need an equine passport as well as an import certificate similar to that of dogs, cats, and ferrets.

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