Switzerland approves stricter regulations on free ports


Le Freeport Luxembourg

On 18 November 2015, the Swiss government announced that parliament is permitting stricter regulations for free ports and customs warehouses.

The regulations are part of a wider crackdown on money laundering, smuggling and other illegal activities that Switzerland has launched. The amendment to the Swiss Customs Act, which comes into effect on January 1, 2016, also grants the Federal Customs Administration (EZV) new power to monitor and control the entry and exit of goods more efficiently and effectively. Under the new regulations, the government introduced a six-month time limit on the storage of goods intended for export. This storage limit imposed by the Swiss government will likely have the greatest impact on the art market. Equally significant is the requirement to reveal the identities of the owners of goods coming in to Swiss free ports and the identities of buyers of goods going out.

The Swiss legislature introduced these measures to ensure the clear distinction between goods intended for storage in free ports and ones intended for export abroad. Furthermore, free port managers will be required to register the goods and their owners in an inventory record. The Swiss government said, “With the introduction of the new amendment, the legislature wishes to ensure the required transparency towards domestic and foreign authorities on the stored goods. In addition, Switzerland’s position in the fight against money laundering has been strengthened.”