Posting to Switzerland
The landlocked territory of Switzerland, despite being a fairly small country in size, is the second-largest non-EU market after the United States of America, so plenty of parcels head there every day.
Known for its amazing ski resorts and delicious chocolate (one of the country's major exports), Switzerland is also where the Red Cross was founded, hence the organisation's logo bearing such a resemblance to the red and white Swiss flag.
The country has a long and strong tradition of political and military neutrality, however, it became a member of the United Nations in 2002, and signed the Schengen Agreement in 2005. Switzerland joined the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1875 and the Swiss city of Bern is home to the Union's headquarters.
This isn't all the background you need before sending an item to Switzerland, though, as there are a couple more things to consider first.
What can't you send?
Many of the same restrictions as seen in other countries apply to Switzerland when it comes to importing hazardous materials. Other prohibited items which may not be imported include absinthe and ammunition. Meanwhile, items which carry restrictions and admitted only conditionally range from alcohol to articles clad with precious metals and opium. For more detailed information on restriction then refer to the UPU prohibited articles document.
Customs and duty
Although not a member of the EU or the EEA, Switzerland is a part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which means relaxed rules for travelling UK visitors. However this does cross over when mailing from EU member countries. A customs declaration is required when shipping to Switzerland and import duties may be charged to the receiver.
Customs duty will depend on a number of factors, but many goods can be assessed as duty free or at a reduced rate under the free trade agreement. More information can be found on the Swiss customs page.
When sending any item it's always advisable to package it securely, ideally choosing a box over an envelope for even greater protection. Make sure any delicate items are well padded with bubble wrap, tissue or polystyrene. Then, ensure all openings are secured with clear tape.
When addressing the package, the UPU suggest that the country of destination should appear on the last line of the address, and be written in capital letters. It also says that, preferably, it should be written in the language of the dispatching country or in an internationally recognised language.
Following these guidelines should mean that your package crosses the borders without incident and arrives at its Swiss destination quickly and easily.
Also see our related articles...
Sending parcels to Switzerland