Introduction to acquisition by persons abroad

The acquisition of real estate in Switzerland by persons abroad is subject to statutory restrictions. In this conjunction the principle of the obligation to obtain a permit is applicable (grounds for permit, exemptions from the obligation to obtain a permit and licensing procedures). It is irrespective in this respect whether the real estate is already in foreign ownership, as are the particular legal grounds for acquisition (purchase, exchange, gift etc.). In this conjunction persons abroad constitute the following: 

  • Non-Swiss citizens
  • Companies domiciled abroad
  • Companies domiciled in Switzerland that are controlled by non-Swiss citizens

Acquisition of real estate is possible without the need for a permit in the case of:

  • Real estate that is acquired in order to exercise a professional, commercial or industrial activity.
    • Excluded from this is real estate for the establishment, trade or letting of residential apartments
  • Citizens of the European Union (EU) as well as of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) who are resident in Switzerland
    • with residence permit EU/EFTA B
    • with permanent residency EU/EFTA C
  • other non-Swiss citizens who have the right of permanent residency in Switzerland
    • with permanent residency C
  • Companies domiciled in Switzerland that are controlled by a person in one of the aforementioned categories
  • EU and EFTA international commuters, a second home in the region of their place of work
    • with international commuter permit EU/EFTA G
  • Non-EU or non-EFTA citizens resident in Switzerland who are not yet entitled to permanent residency in Switzerland, an apartment in which they reside on a permanent basis
    • with residence permit B

The fundamental principles are:

  • Federal Swiss Act concerning the Acquisition of Real Estate by Persons Abroad (Bundesgesetz über den Erwerb von Grundstücken durch Personen im Ausland – “BewG” (in short: Lex Koller, formerly Lex Friedrich or Lex F), cf. History)
  • Execution
    • Responsibility of the canton in which the real estate is located
    • The canton determines the licensing authority
    • Granting of permit possible only for reasons specified in BewG or in the Cantonal introductory act
    • Approval of the acquisition by a non-Swiss citizen of a holiday home (detached family property or apartment) subject to certain preconditions
Überblick zum Erwerb von Grundstücken durch Personen im Ausland