How to break into the Swiss Market
Companies wanting to break into the Swiss market with their goods should understand the rules and international trade regulations and restrictions surrounding imports
Many international companies are happy to do business in Switzerland, well-known for its beauty, innovation, luxury, and security. Swiss products are known for their quality, and the Swiss expect the same level of quality in their imports, especially when it comes to agriculture. The service sector accounts for an overwhelming majority of their GDP, while only about a quarter comes from industry. That said, since it has a desirable and stable economy, companies wanting to break into the Swiss market with their goods need to understand the rules and regulations surrounding imports.
Regulations for the Swiss Market
There is no one-size-fits-all rule for imports into Switzerland, and requirements depend on what kind of good is being brought into the country. Most products that already comply with EU (European Union) or EEA (European Economic Area) regulations or that are covered by a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA; an international trade agreement designed to make market access easier) can automatically be introduced into Switzerland (but there are some exceptions, including hot water tanks, refrigerators, freezers, coffee machines, wood and wood products, and certain tobacco products, among others). Products that do not fall under these categories have to abide by Swiss international technical trade regulations and restrictions.
Companies must know what items are included on the exceptions list and how their goods are categorised. Many of these regulatory documents are written in French, German, Italian, or Romansh, which are the official languages of the country. It is therefore advisable for a company to be in contact with a Language Service Provider (LSP) that can provide certified translation services to get requirements and regulations accurately translated into that company’s own language. English is not an official language in Switzerland and has no legal bearing.
Types of documents
An LSP such as CPSL can also help with localization, in the event that companies need their own documents distributed to different cantons in the country. LSPs can also:
- translate your labels
- translate official forms (online or written)
- localize product user guides
- localize safety instructions
- localize technical manuals
- localize safety instructions
- localize data sheets, marketing collateral, patents, QRDs (Quality Review of Documents), and IFUs (Instructions for Use).
Types of Imports
SECO is the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs in Switzerland. It is responsible for creating policy (including labour, economic, and foreign policy) and the regulatory framework regarding imports.
Trade Tariffs, Documentation, and Labelling
Duties for merchandise depend on the type of good and its classification. All goods have to be declared, and companies have free online access to find tariff rates. Organisations can declare goods online, but they must have previously registered with the Customs Client Administration (ZKV). Online registration also allows for the administration of certificates and declarations, as well as data processing and control. Tariffs are normally very low, but this may be largely due to trade agreements in place with the EU, EEA, and countries with which Switzerland shares MRAs.
The Federal Act on Product Safety requires that all products entering Switzerland are tested and certified as safe. Labelling generally follows EU regulations, but a CE mark is not required for products destined only for Switzerland. Product labels for food products are particularly strict and must include the ingredients, the origin of the ingredients, and the country of production, as well as health information. Any foods that are or contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are required to display that information on the label. Professional translation services would be very useful in this case. CPSL boasts a global network of linguists who specialise in the legal sector and can provide sworn translations.
Is your company looking to enter the Swiss market? What are the technical barriers to trade? Do you need accurate, professional, and reliably translated regulatory documents or labels?
Don’t hesitate to contact CPSL today for all of your multilingual needs!
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