One of the UK’s closest trading partners, Switzerland is a highly innovative market with strong business, legal and regulatory frameworks. British services and manufacturing are particularly well established in the country.
Switzerland tops the Global Innovation Index, making it an attractive and responsive market for high-tech products.
The Swiss customer base has one of the world’s highest levels of spending power, making Switzerland an attractive test market.
Close trading relationship
Switzerland is one of the UK’s most prominent partners in the areas of science and innovation. In 2017, some 15,200 UK businesses exported goods to Switzerland.
Exporting to Switzerland
The ‘destination country principle’ applies to VAT in Switzerland’. VAT is called Mehrwertsteuer (MwSt), taxe sur la valeur ajoutée (TVA) or imposta sul valore aggiunto (IVA).
Exported goods are exempt from local tax in their country of origin, but subject to VAT in Switzerland. The tax rate is 7.7%, but for basic necessities including food it is as low as 2.5%.
Although not part of the EU, Switzerland subscribes to the EU Late Payment Directive, which requires businesses to pay invoices within 60 days, unless a longer payment time is agreed in the contract.
Routes to market
The Swiss market is complex, with four national languages and nuanced differences in business culture.
- Insider knowledge about how to access decision makers is highly beneficial for businesses looking to export to Switzerland.
- English is widely spoken and flight times are under two hours. With more than 130 flights per day, Switzerland is highly accessible for UK business people.
- Understanding the Canton system is essential for UK businesses looking to penetrate the Swiss market. While most commercial laws are governed by federal legislation, cantonal law may contain specific rules affecting business activity.
Ease of doing business
36th / 190 countries (World Banks, 2020)
German, French, Italian, English
0.9% (IMF, 2019)
GDP per capita
£60,062 (IMF, 2018)