Acquisition of Real Estate by Persons Abroad

These guidelines provide an overview of current Swiss Federal Law and Ordinance, as well as the complementary cantonal and communal provisions that restrict the acquisition of real estate in Switzerland by persons abroad. The guidelines are provided merely for information purposes and are not legally binding.

The sale of real estate to non-Swiss citizens is subject to several laws. Each canton has a yearly quota of properties authorised for sale to non-Swiss. This system came into effect on the 1st January 1985 and its goal is to control the purchase of properties in Switzerland by non Swiss citizens. An authorisation to purchase must be obtained from the Cantonal Authorities and from the Federal Department of Justice and Police, through a Notary (in Switzerland they are Public Officers).

As a general rule, non Swiss may only buy one property per family and the net floor space and the surface area of the real estate must not exceed 200m2 and 1000m2 respectively. In accordance with consistent practice, larger areas are authorised automatically on proof of additional need up to 250m2 and to 1500m2 respectively.

Hartmann Singleton is experienced in the process of obtaining permits to buy properties in Switzerland for a Foreign National and is on hand throughout the process to provide support until the property is legally yours.

The Swiss electorate has decided on November 30, 2014 to keep lump-sum taxation with a majority voting against its abolition. A victory for our country and a very clear message from our compatriots to foreign nationals looking to move to Switzerland: they are and always will be welcome here!

The result of this vote means that Switzerland continues its long tradition of hospitality by upholding a virtuous fiscal model that was successfully established more than 150 years ago. It also reaffirms its attractiveness and willingness to remain an open and welcoming country.

Our country offers much more than this tax benefit: living standards in Switzerland are among the best in the world. Selected highlights include quality of life, healthcare, political stability, security, financial environment, high standards private international schools and higher education, variety of spoken languages and strict privacy laws, not to mention the geographic location in the heart of Europe, and proximity to international airports, beautiful lakes and some of the Alps' largest ski resorts.

The Swiss Federal Government held a referendum on March 11, 2012 and a new law passed relates to Second-Homes in Switzerland.

The new law becomes effective on March 11 January 2012 and relates specifically to the NEW CONSTRUCTION of second-homes – but not the redevelopment of existing buildings. It imposes a 20% cap on all second-homes, applies to all owner types (Swiss, Residency Permit holders and exempted foreigners) and will not be retrospective to existing projects/properties. For most resorts the possibility of building 'new second-homes' is therefore effectively zero until the ratio has fallen to 20%.