Remission of customs duties

What is a remission?

We refrain from levying duties or refund them in the following cases:

  • The item is still in our custody or has not yet been definitively assessed for importation and is completely or partially destroyed by accident, force majeure or with official consent.
  • The item has been assessed for importation (released into free circulation) and is completely or partially destroyed or re-exported based on an official ruling.
  • Based on Article 85 of the Customs Act, we subsequently claim duties that would be disproportionately high.
  • In cases where "exceptional circumstances" would make payment seem particularly harsh. These circumstances may not affect the assessment of customs duties, i.e. particularly bring about a change of tariff number.

Production errors such as missed deadlines or procedural failures do not constitute "exceptional circumstances". Even if an appeal does not lead to the outcome you desire, this cannot be achieved subsequently by means of a remission (see Decision of the Federal Administrative Court A-1694/2006 of 7 February 2007).

The legal basis is formed by Article 86 para. 1 letters a to d of the Customs Act (CustA; SR 631.0).

Which duties can be waived?

Remission of customs duties covers the duties that we levy. If a law contains its own remission provisions, e.g. in the case of value added tax, those provisions apply.

Customs duties may be partially or fully waived. The Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS) decides the extent of the remission (see Judgement of the Federal Supreme Court 2A.534/2005 of 17 February 2006).


A letter requesting the so-called remission of customs duties must be submitted to us. You have one year from the time the customs assessment decision (VVZ) was issued in which to do this.

In the case of assessments with contingent payment obligations (e.g. temporary admission procedure), the one-year deadline starts from the time of conclusion of the selected customs procedure. The Directorate decides whether requests are granted.