MME strenghtens Indirect Tax Team

Customs, Customs Law, Customs Procedures, Export Control


Karl Fässler is a proven specialist and covers the areas of customs law, customs procedures including customs warehousing, AEO auditing, authorised consignors/consignees, customs criminal proceedings, international administrative and legal assistance, export control and aviation.

The customs administration does not only levy customs and value-added tax at the border, but also many indirect taxes such as alcohol, beer, tobacco and mineral oil taxes as well as heavy vehicle and incentive taxes. "The topics that arise for imports and exports from a "regulatory" and compliance perspective are extremely diverse," says Karl Fässler. From a foreign trade and foreign policy point of view, UN embargoes must be observed and sanctions and export controls must be complied with. When importing, tariff quotas need to be managed and food legislation and health protection measures must be observed. Other areas include animal, plant and species protection as well as intellectual property rights. In addition, there are numerous things to consider when importing and exporting works of art.

Based on selected examples, we will give you a brief insight into the diversity of topics relating to cross-border trade. Due to the constantly changing customs regulations in the EU and Switzerland, it is indispensable for import and export companies to be well informed and have up-to-date knowledge of the respective legal regulations and rules. "Here, too, ignorance does not protect against damage," says Karl Fässler.

Preferential Agreements

Preferential agreements between Switzerland, the EU and a considerable number of third countries provide for considerable tariff concessions. Swiss exporters can save their customers considerable customs duties and create competitive advantages by leveraging available preferential tariff treatments. If you have an overview of the origin data of your suppliers, you can arrange your procurement in such a way that you have to pay as little customs duty as possible. The MME team supports and advises you in the planning and optimisation of your supply chain, as well as application of the various trade agreements.


A distinction is made between bonded warehouses, open bonded warehouses (OZL) and warehouses for bulk goods.

Bonded Warehouse

Duty-free warehouses are warehouses in which goods that have not been cleared and taxed are temporarily stored. They are operated by private warehousing companies, have a public character and are open to all interested parties. The most important advantages of bonded warehousing:

  • Transit storage: Transit goods can be stored in the customs area without paying import duties.
  • Credit storage: For goods intended for sale in the customs territory, import duties do not have to be paid until the stockholding period has ended (final customs declaration).

Open Bonded Warehouses (OZL)

The OZL does not assess import duties such as customs duties, import taxes or the application of trade policy measures, in particular restrictions in quantities, monitoring and protective measures.

The main advantages of the OZL:

  • All the advantages of duty-free warehousing;
  • In addition, local independence, i.e. the goods do not have to be delivered to a customs office; and
  • the existing infrastructures can be optimally used for goods handling and storage.

Storage of Bulk Goods

Bulk goods are goods in quantities of at least 10,000 kg net mass which, due to their uniform physical character, are suitable for bulk cargo handling and transport.

In the bulk goods warehouse, import duties are assessed with conditional payment obligations and both trade policy measures and federal non-customs legislation are applied. This means that any levies must be secured and prohibitions/restrictions observed.

The MME team will advise you on the choice of the most favourable storage option for you and will show you the various possibilities of customs procedures.


Aircraft type and use have a significant influence on the assessment of applicable taxes. In the case of scheduled, chartered or business air traffic with a commercial use, these are tax-exempt in accordance with the Value Added Tax Act, while aircrafts not used commercially are taxable.

In addition, issues such as wet and dry leasing, aircraft management and ownership are of importance. There are many questions that must first be clarified: How does the customs declaration take place? Is it a foreign airline? If it is an aircraft for personal use by persons residing abroad who are temporarily brought into the customs territory, is mineral oil tax on aircraft fuel due in this case?

Maintenance and the upkeep of the aircraft abroad may be subject to agreements with the customs administration so that the work does not have to be registered immediately at the point of entry for every maintenance and upkeep.

Customs airfields are another aviation issue. There are various categories here, ranging from category A such as Zurich and Geneva to Bern and Lugano (category B) to non-customs aerodromes in categories D and P. The customs authorities are also responsible for the maintenance of the aircraft. Depending on the category, the individual procedures for cross-border flights are very different.

MME benefits from the know-how of Karl Fässler, the former Head of Passenger Services at the Zurich Airport Customs Office, who was also responsible there for the aviation team. As Tax Counsel at MME, he can now advise you in all aviation matters, including individual procedures, and will obtain the necessary permits for you.

Domestic Transports

It is prohibited to carry out inland transport (cabotage) for commercial purposes using foreign means of transport. Such transports must generally be released for free circulation. Under certain circumstances, however, the customs administration may authorise duty-free temporary importation into the customs territory for such transports if, for example, no corresponding domestic means of transport are available and the period of use remains limited.

Automobile Tax

Customs investigators are currently conducting several criminal investigations in the field of automobile tax. This is particularly the case for SMEs that convert their vehicles into vehicles for disabled individuals after importation. SMEs are often unaware that if they modify the vehicle, they are regarded as manufacturers under the Automobile Tax Act and are therefore subject to tax.

The MME team with its Tax Counsel Karl Fässler can advise and support clients in the collection of automobile tax as well as in court proceedings. His years of experience can also help to lead search teams.

Digitization in the Customs  Sector

The transformation of Swiss Customs began in 2018 under the acronym DAZIT and should be completed by 2026. The program of the Federal Customs Administration (FCA) provides for the simplification of customs formalities and continuous digitization. The changes associated with the internal reorganisation of the FCA have far-reaching consequences for all importers and exporters.

Here too, Karl Fässler’s many years of experience in liaising with the FCA will allow him to support clients by offering insight and knowledge of the FCA and the DAZIT program.

Your team


In need of legal, tax or compliance advice? We look forward to contacting you.