Shopping in the neighbouring nations, where food and other products are cheaper than in Switzerland, has long been popular among residents who live in border regions.
But from mid-March, when Switzerland closed its borders with Austria, Italy, France, and Germany, banning all non-essential travel, this activity was curtailed.
On Friday, the Federal Council announced cross-border shopping would again be allowed from June 15th onwards.
Cross-border shopping is allowed again in both directions.
“All restrictions imposed on persons entering Switzerland from the Schengen Area have been lifted. This includes the ban on importing goods for private use that have been purchased on a shopping trip abroad”, the government said.
Even when Switzerland lifted border restrictions with Germany and Austria on May 16th to allow couples separated on the opposite sides of the border to meet again, shopping remained prohibited.
The same rule has applied since Italy opened its border on June 3rd.
Now that shopping abroad is again permitted, the same regulations will be in place for cross-border purchases as before the shutdown — that is, if the price exceeds 300 francs, shoppers will have to pay the Value Added Tax (VAT) on their return to Switzerland.
In its press release, the Federal Council also reiterated its earlier decision to reinstate the free movement of persons with EU/EFTA states and the UK as of June 15th.
Regarding Great Britain, the Federal Council noted that although “it is not part of the Schengen area, the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons continues to apply there until December 31st, 2020”.
It also said that Bulgaria, Ireland, Croatia, Romania and Cyprus, which don’t belong to the Schengen zone either, “will remain on the high-risk list, which means that restrictions will continue to apply to third-country nationals wishing to enter Switzerland from these countries”.
However, people with rights of free movement, including citizens of these six countries, will be allowed to come to Switzerland, the authorities said.