Exception to policy founded on the type of the real estate’s use

One exception to policy is the acquisition by foreign nationals domiciled in Switzerland of a property intended to be their main residence.

According to Art. 2 II b of the Act, no authorisation is required to foreign nationals, whatever their nationality, who are domiciled in Switzerland and seek to purchase a dwelling in their actual place of residence.

It must be underlined that, under this provision, “foreign nationals” are not those originating from UE/EFTA member states. Therefore, the Act only concerns the nationals of other foreign countries, who are legally domiciled in Switzerland (for instance, holders of a B permit).

Such a buyer must acquire the dwelling in his own name and occupy the property himself, as renting it out, in whole or in part, is not allowed. Only one residential unit may be purchased.

Whilst generally there are no restrictions to such an acquisition in terms of size of the property, the Land Register does usually not record a transaction concerning an area of over 3000 m2 but refers the buyer to the authorisation body, which in the end decide whether the acquisition can still be considered as exempt from authorisation or whether it cannot be allowed on the grounds that it is purely for investment purposes.

A second exception to policy is the acquisition of secondary residences.

Nationals of EU/EFTA member states who commute cross-border to work in Switzerland (with a G permit for instance) can acquire a secondary residence in the area of her or his place of work without authorisation.

Such a buyer must occupy the residence himself as long as he works in the area as a cross-border commuter. Any renting out, in whole or in part, is forbidden.

The other considerations mentioned above (purchase in buyer’s own name, surface area of the property, etc.) also apply in principle in the case of an acquisition of a secondary residence.

A third exception to policy is the acquisition of real estate for permanent business establishment purposes. Such a property can be acquired without authorisation. In this case, it is immaterial whether the real estate is used for the buyer’s business or leased by a third party in order to pursue a commercial activity.

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This website aims to provide general information regarding Swiss law and should not be regarded as a legal opinion. For more specific advice, do not hesitate to contact us.