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Conditions to be met by foreign nationals in order to buy a property in Switzerland


Lex Koller and bilateral agreements

The Lex Koller, which is the Federal Law on the acquisition of properties by persons abroad (abbrev. in French LFAIE) establishes the conditions governing an authorization for persons abroad to buy a property in Switzerland. By and large, the main provisions of this legislation are as follows:

Definition of persons abroad

Those persons are considered to be persons abroad who are physical persons without the right to set up in Switzerland or companies in the possession of such individuals.

Nationals of EU/EFTA

Nationals of the European Union or EFTA are not longer subject to the Lex Koller if they are legally resident in Switzerland. Nationals of EU/EFTA frontier workers with permit G can buy a second home close to their place of work.

Interpretation guidelines of the LFAIE, modified 1.10.2019, Canton of Geneva

"It is not the category of the residence permit that is decisive for exclusion, but the establishment of the domicile according to the rules of the Civil Code, i.e. the actual residence and the intention to create a lasting "centre of interests". A stay for a cure or studies, for example, does not constitute a domicile. Likewise, an EU-EFTA national must actually reside in Switzerland; it is not sufficient that he or she holds a valid residence permit".

"The acquisition of a secondary residence (except for frontier workers) or holiday accommodation is not permitted in the canton of Geneva".

Other foreign persons

Foreign persons with a C permit may also buy a property in Switzerland on condition that they are acting on their own account and that more than two thirds of the finance for buying the property does not come from abroad.

Persons with a residence permit B may purchase a principal residence, in which they live permanently. The above-mentioned interpretation guidelines are also applicable for these physical persons (principal residence, legal and actual domicile).

All foreign nationals, whatever their place of residence or nationality, may buy commercial premises (office, workshop, warehouse, arcade etc.) intended for commercial activities.

© Esther Lauber, Real Estate Trustee with Advanced Federal Diploma of Professional Education and Training, real estate broker

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