Switzerland About two third of
the area of Switzerland is covered with forests, lakes and mountains.
Since Switzerland has no mineral resources, it must import, process and
resell them as products. "Services" are the most important part of the
economy. This includes banking, assurances and tourism.
Farming is also an important part of the economy. But the production of
the Swiss farmers does not fulfil the needs of all people, so
Switzerland must rely on imported goods from other countries.
Switzerland’s existence as a modern
federal state dates back to 1848. The government is made up of seven
members, elected by the Federal Assembly. The government members take it
in turns to act as president. The Swiss people can influence political
affairs through the highly developed system of direct democracy.
Switzerland’s position as a neutral state allows it to play an important
humanitarian role in world affairs and to act as a mediator between
conflicting parties. Switzerland is not a member of the EU or EEA
Switzerland and Europe includes links to Swiss government sites and
years it was forbidden to buy property in
Switzerland unless you were a
Swiss citizen. For many foreign investors this was regrettable, as Swiss
property is a very attractive and secure long-term investment.
Government has now changed the laws, and at last foreigners are allowed
to invest in Swiss property when it is perceived to be for the public
good. Now you can buy new, low-rental apartment buildings,
government subsidy and a
for 20 years, and make an
Mortgages are available, but the minimum cash investment
should be around SFR 500,000. If you wish to make an investment in Swiss
property, you can easily do so by setting up an incorporated company
expressly for this purpose.
of property by foreigners is regulated by the Federal Law on the
Acquisition of Property by foreign
(originally called Lex Friedrich, and now called Lex Koller). The Lex
Koller requires a foreign citizen to obtain a permit from the
appropriate cantonal and federal authorities before buying property in
Scope of the
Regulation: "Foreigners" in the sense of the Lex Koller can be
individuals as well as legal entities.
Lex Koller defines individual persons as being either foreigners
domiciled abroad, or foreigners that are in fact domiciled in
Switzerland but are neither nationals of EU/EFTA member states nor
holders of a valid settlement permit (authorisation d'etablissement/
Niederlassungsbewilligung or so-called C permit).
This means that nationals of EU/EFTA member states domiciled in
Switzerland (in particular EU/EFTA nationals with a residence permit
EU-EFTA (authorisation de séjour/Aufenthaltsbewilligung or so called
B permit) or a settlement permit EU-EFTA or, possibly, with a short
residence permit EU-EFTA) as well as nationals of other foreign
countries who are holders of a valid settlement permit (C permit)
and are actually domiciled in
Switzerland, are not subject to the
"Lex Koller". With respect to the acquisition of property their
position is equal to that of a Swiss citizen.
considered "foreign persons abroad" if they are either domiciled abroad
or are controlled by persons abroad. Control of a legal entity by
foreign persons abroad is deemed where such persons abroad:
a) own more than
one-third of the company's equity capital
b) dispose of
more than one-third of the voting rights, whether directly or
indirectly, in the shareholders' meeting of the company; or
c) provide the
company with repayable funds representing more than one half of the
difference between the company's assets and its debts vis-à-vis persons
that are not subject to the Lex Koller.
"acquisition of property" encompasses not only the direct purchase of
property but also the acquisition of property rights (rights in rem) on
the property as well as the procurement of a right of ownership or
usufruct of a share of a legal entity with more than one third of its
total assets consisting of Swiss property, provided that foreign persons
abroad thereby obtain or reinforce a controlling position in such
In general, every acquisition of property by foreign
persons abroad as defined above requires a permit unless the specific
acquisition is subject to an exemption.
Permission is not required for the acquisition of property for private
residential purposes by an individual foreign person, provided that such
a property serves the purchaser as their main residence at the place of
their rightful and actual residence, and provided that the purchaser
actually lives there (renting out is not allowed).
Consequently, such person must have an adequate permit to stay. If
building land is acquired, construction work on the accommodation (their
main residence) must start within one year. Furthermore, the surface
area of the purchased lot may not be larger than required by its
purpose. The competent cantonal authorities will decide on the
admissibility of lots larger than 3,000 square meters.
event that the buyer changes their place of residency, they may dispose
of his dwelling as they see fit:
continue to use it as a secondary or holiday residence
it to third parties.
if a person buys a new home at the new place of residency, they are not
forced to sell the old main residence.
outlined above, nationals of EU and EFTA member states domiciled in
Switzerland as well as holders of a valid settlement permit (C permit)
are not qualified as "foreign persons abroad" in the sense of the Lex
Koller. Therefore, the above is only relevant for nationals of other
foreign countries residing in
Switzerland based on a residence permit (B
Nationals of EU/EFTA member states working as cross-border commuters in
Switzerland (while remaining domiciled in the respective
foreign country), may acquire a secondary residence in the area of their
place of work without
For as long as the purchaser continues working in the area as a
cross-border commuter, they must occupy the residency themselves.
acquisition of a secondary residence by a foreigner domiciled abroad who
is not a cross-border commuter is, however, not possible without
authorisation. Still, there are a few Cantons that have introduced
special provisions according to which a foreigner domiciled abroad who
is not a cross-border commuter may be
authorised to acquire a secondary residence in a place with which he has
exceptionally close ties worthy of protection.
Canton of Zürich has introduced such provisions. However to date,
neither the Canton of Vaud or the
Canton of Geneva have done this.
Canton may introduce provisions which
individual persons abroad to acquire holiday homes.
Cantons that did not introduce such provisions an acquisition of holiday
homes/hotel condominium units by foreign persons abroad is therefore not
possible. Furthermore, the Federal law (Lex Koller) contains provisions
regarding the amount (quotas) and the location (designated holiday
resort areas) of such homes/units. As a result, the acquisition of such
homes/units is only possible in certain municipalities.
general rule, the net floor space in holiday homes and hotel condominium
units must not exceed 200 square meters. In addition, the acquisition is
subject to the condition that the home/unit is used for holiday purposes
only and will be sold as soon as it is not used for such purpose
anymore. However, holiday homes may be periodically rented out. Hotel
condominium units must be made available to the hotel owner for hotel
operations, especially during high season.