Violations and voluntary disclosure

Key info

When crossing the border, the so-called tax law principle of self-declaration is applicable. It stipulates that all people are obliged to spontaneously declare all goods that they are carrying with them when crossing the border, i.e. for example

  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Animals and plants
  • Foodstuffs involving excess quantities
  • Repairs to vehicles or new tyres
  • Household effects
  • etc.

If this is not done, or if the declaration is incorrect, this is deemed to be a punishable violation. Depending on the case, this may involve several laws, such as for example:

  • Customs Act (customs duties)
  • VAT Act
  • Plant and Animal Protection Act
  • etc.

Violations can be pursued not only when detected, i.e. when crossing the border, but also subsequently. Whoever commits a violation can also be held liable by the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (Anti-Fraud) several years later.


In the majority of cases, the fines amount to a great deal more than the duties that would normally be due. In cases of gross negligence, the violation can be prosecuted with a so-called fine (daily rate).  

Voluntary disclosure

Whoever illegally imports goods into Switzerland can make a voluntary disclosure to the Customs Investigation section which is closest to their place of residence. Please contact your nearest directorate directly to obtain the address of the customs investigation office: addresses. If the violation merely concerns duties and if these are paid, penalties are generally waived.