The market access provisions of the Switzerland-European Union (EU) free trade agreement and the Switzerland-EU agricultural agreement have been adopted in the Switzerland-UK bilateral trade agreement. This means that existing preferential customs treatment will continue to apply under the future Switzerland-UK relationship. This includes exemption from duty for industrial products (originating products listed in HS chapters 25–97, with the exception of individual products listed in customs tariff chapters 35 and 38) and preferential treatment for processed and unprocessed agricultural products.
Trade in goods
Products originating in the UK according to the terms of the Switzerland-UK trade agreement will continue to be given preferential treatment when imported into Switzerland. The rates of duty applicable to the import of products originating in the UK will be published in the digital customs tariff Tares when the Switzerland-UK trade agreement comes into force.
Products originating in Switzerland according to the terms of the Switzerland-UK trade agreement will continue to be given preferential treatment when imported into the UK. Information on the rates of duty which will apply in the UK in the case of no deal can be viewed here.
Rules of origin / cumulation
Protocol No 3 of the trade agreement provides for bilateral Switzerland-UK cumulation. Under certain circumstances, diagonal cumulation is possible with input materials from parties to the Regional Convention on Pan-Euro-Mediterranean Preferential Rules of Origin (PEM Convention). For detailed information, please see this circular from the Federal Customs Administration (in German).
For input materials originating in the EU to be cumulated diagonally, a free trade agreement between the EU and the UK must exist or, at the least, a customs mutual assistance agreement must be temporarily in force. That is not currently the case. As soon as the EU and the UK have concluded such an agreement, cumulation will be possible if the EU input material has undergone more than a minimal operation in Switzerland. If goods originating in the EU are exported via Switzerland to the UK without processing, they will not be considered goods originating in Switzerland under the Switzerland-UK trade agreement.
For cumulation to be possible with input material of Turkish origin, a free trade agreement would first have to be concluded between the UK and Turkey. Secondly, the EFTA–Turkey free trade agreement would have be amended accordingly. Neither of these requirements would be fulfilled in the case of no deal, meaning that input material of Turkish origin in Switzerland to be exported to the UK will be considered of third-country origin and cumulation will therefore not be possible.
If there is a no deal Brexit, the Western Balkan countries will be considered third countries for the purposes of the Switzerland-UK relationship, meaning that diagonal cumulation will not be possible initially. It will only become possible if and when the UK concludes free trade agreements with the individual Western Balkan countries and EFTA’s free trade agreements with these countries are amended accordingly.
No, in the case of no deal the UK will be considered as a third country for the purposes of the Switzerland-EU Free Trade Agreement and PEM Convention. If input material of UK origin is used in production, the list rules of the PEM Convention laid down in the Switzerland-EU free trade agreement must be adhered to. Cumulation will not be possible.
It is currently difficult to assess what delays are likely in the case of no deal. Unlike for land transport, direct imports from and direct exports to third countries sent by air freight will require a pre-entry declaration, because the UK will have third country status. For further information on prior notifications in Switzerland, see here. The UK will offer simplified import procedures – information can be found here.
The contact details of the UK customs authorities’ enquiry team can be found here.
Unless the UK and the EU conclude an agreement similar to the Switzerland-EU agreement on customs facilitation and security, the UK will leave the joint security area covering Switzerland, Norway and the EU and have third-country status. Reciprocal recognition of AEO status by Switzerland and the UK will no longer be possible in the case of no deal.
Information on the UK’s import customs procedure can be found here.
For consignments transported by land from the UK to Switzerland, like those from other third countries, the EU will require a pre-entry declaration and will carry out any security checks required. Since the goods will then already be in the joint security area, no further customs security measures will be necessary on entry into Switzerland.
For consignments transported by air from the UK to Switzerland, like those from other third countries, a pre-entry declaration will need to be made in advance to the Federal Customs Administration in line with the provisions of the Switzerland-EU agreement on customs facilitation and security. Any security checks required will take place after the arrival of the goods in Switzerland. However, there will be no further security checks if these goods are then sent on from an airport in Switzerland to the EU.
Please contact the UK customs authorities’ enquiries team.
Information on EORI numbers can be found here.
The Switzerland-UK trade agreement governs i.a. preferential UK and Swiss market access but not national customs procedures. Information on the simplified customs procedure which the UK customs authorities will offer in the case of no deal can be found here. Please direct enquiries regarding the UK’s general national customs procedure to the UK customs authorities’ enquiries team.
Industrial products subject to authorisation
The certificate will certainly need to be renewed if the company wishes to continue to place Product X on the market in the EU, Switzerland or the UK.
If there is no agreement between the UK and the EU:
- The placement of the product on the Swiss market will be governed by Swiss law. Simplified conditions have been negotiated between Switzerland and UK concerning automobiles, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for medicines and Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) for chemical products. Discussions between Switzerland and the UK are ongoing regarding further arrangements.
- The placement of the product on the EU market will be governed by EU law. The European Commission has published detailed guidelines on different aspects of placing the product on the market, given the special situation of the UK (‘Industrial Products’ and ‘Industrial Products Q&A’).
- The placement of the product on the UK market will be governed by UK law. The UK government has laid down unilateral measures for certain products, which may also benefit Swiss exporters. These measures concern (1) the recognition of conformity assessments for goods in which the product requirements are equivalent in Switzerland and the EU and which have been tested by a certified conformity assessment body; (2) recognition of authorised representatives of Switzerland-based manufacturers; and (3) easier product labelling during an 18-month transition period. Measures (1) and (2) are temporary.
As part of its emergency planning for a disorderly exit from the EU (no deal), the UK will apply the following measures to the import of industrial products. The UK recognises:
1. conformity assessments for certain industrial products as long as the products are manufactured in line with EU legal provisions and, where equivalent, in line with the Swiss legal provisions and as long as they have been assessed by a certified conformity assessment body. The equivalence of Swiss and EU legal provisions is established by the Agreement on mutual recognition of conformity assessment (MRA).
2. for the following industrial products, the authorised representatives based in Switzerland and in the ‘machinery’ product category the person authorised to draw up the technical documentation: product sectors 2, 4-9, 11, 16, 17, 19 und 20 in Annex 1 of the Agreement on mutual recognition of conformity assessments (MRA).
Measures (1) and (2) will be in force for a limited period.
3. The UK also allows some facilitation in the labelling of products. During an 18-month transition period, importers based in the UK do not have to affix the details of their imports (address of origin) to the packaging of products imported from Switzerland. Instead, importers can provide the information in the enclosed documentation.
Annex 1 of the Switzerland-UK Mutual Recognition Agreement contains a list of product sectors to which the Mutual Recognition Agreement applies. If a product is manufactured in line with the relevant legal provisions of Section I, the product is covered by the Mutual Recognition Agreement. The provisions of the UK’s unilateral statement on the import of certain products (see answer above).
For further information on the products covered by the Switzerland-EU Mutual Recognition Agreement, please see here.
For the product sectors listed in chapters 2, 4-9, 11, 16, 17, 19 und 20 (see list below) in the Switzerland-EU Mutual Recognition Agreement, the UK will until further notice continue to recognise authorised representatives for manufacturers and in the ‘machinery’ product category the person authorised to draw up the technical documentation if the manufacturer is based in Switzerland, an EU member state or the UK. Authorised representatives based in the UK will no longer be recognised in the EU if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Chapter 2: Personal Protective Equipment
Chapter 4: Medical Devices
Chapter 5: Gas appliances and boilers (Hot water boilers)
Chapter 6: Pressure vessels
Chapter 7: Radio Equipment and Telecommunication Terminal Equipment
Chapter 8: Equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres
Chapter 9: Electrical equipment
Chapter 11: Measuring instruments and pre-packages
Chapter 16: Construction products
Chapter 17: Lifts
Chapter 19: Cableways
Chapter 20: Explosives for civil use
The UK Government has published guidance on ‘Regulating chemicals (REACH) in case of the UK leaving the EU without a deal’ (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-comply-with-reach-chemical-regulations), which will help to answer any questions businesses and interested parties may have. Further questions regarding the UK legislation should be addressed to the British Embassy in Switzerland or the competent authorities in the UK.
REACH is not covered by Switzerland’s bilateral agreements with the EU, including the Mutual Recognition Agreement.
Products of animal and plant origin
The UK authorities are responsible for laying down the rules, regulations and import conditions to the UK for animals and products of animal origin from all countries including Switzerland in the case of no deal. Exporters should therefore refer to the guidance provided by the UK on importing animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin after Brexit, which is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/importing-animals-animal-products-and-high-risk-food-and-feed-not-of-animal-origin-after-eu-exit#new-notification-process.
The import into Switzerland of protected species of animals and plants remains unchanged after Brexit. Interested parties can find the relevant information on import procedures on the website of the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office https://www.blv.admin.ch/blv/en/home/import-und-export/import/importe-artengeschuetzte-tiere-pflanzen.html.
The UK authorities have issued guidance on trading and moving endangered species protected by CITES in the case of no deal between the UK and the EU. See: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trading-and-moving-endangered-species-protected-by-cites-if-theres-no-withdrawal-deal.
In its guide ‘Patents if there’s no Brexit deal’, the UK government states that the relevant EU legislation will be retained in UK law. It also notes that the relevant EU legislation (or its domestic implementation) with respect to SPCs will be retained in UK law under the EU Withdrawal Act 2018. The existing systems will therefore remain in place, operating independently from the EU regime, with all the current conditions and requirements. Furthermore, in the aforementioned guide the UK states that:
Any existing rights and licences in force in the UK will remain in force after 12 April 2019. For UK, EU and third country businesses there will be no significant change to the legal requirements or the application processes. In particular, pending applications for patents and for supplementary protection certificates will continue to be assessed on the same basis, and new applications can continue to be filed. If legal proceedings involving these rights or licences are underway, they will continue unaffected. The supplementary protection certificate regime in the UK will continue to operate as before for UK, EU and third country businesses. This information is taken from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/patents-if-theres-no-brexit-deal/patents-if-theres-no-brexit-deal.
UK clinical trials are currently managed nationally and UK clinical trial applications will continue to be authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The UK does not propose to make any changes to its data and market exclusivity periods. In its guide ‘Further guidance note on the regulation of medicines, medical devices and clinical trials if there’s no Brexit deal’ (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-guidance-note-on-the-regulation-of-medicines-medical-devices-and-clinical-trials-if-theres-no-brexit-deal/further-guidance-note-on-the-regulation-of-medicines-medical-devices-and-clinical-trials-if-theres-no-brexit-deal) it is stated that:
[…] data and market exclusivity in the UK will start on the date of authorisation in the UK or EU, whichever comes first. This will also apply in relation to marketing exclusivity for orphan products. The Government will review this within 2 years of an EU Exit in order to make sure we remain competitive.
Regarding orphan (rare disease) medicines, which are currently regulated through the EU system, the UK has indicated that it will provide its own system, based on the current EU criteria, but UK-specific elements will be incorporated (e.g. based on the prevalence of the disease in the UK population). The UK has also stated that the 10 years’ market exclusivity from competition from similar products in the approved orphan indication will be retained.
In the case of no deal, the UK government has said that it will ensure that property rights in all existing registered EU trade marks and registered Community designs will continue to be protected and to be enforceable in the UK by providing an equivalent trade mark or design registered in the UK. Rights holders with an existing EU trade mark or registered Community design will have a new UK equivalent right granted that will come into force as soon as the UK leaves the EU. The UK notes that owners of such rights do not have to take any steps for the time being (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/changes-to-design-and-trade-mark-law-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-without-a-deal/changes-to-registered-design-design-right-and-international-design-and-trade-mark-law-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-without-a-deal).
In its guidelines ‘Trade marks and designs if there’s no Brexit deal’ (available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/trade-marks-and-designs-if-theres-no-brexit-deal/trade-marks-and-designs-if-theres-no-brexit-deal), the UK lists possible implications for the rights holders affected, as follows:
- existing registered EU trade marks or registered Community designs held will continue to be valid in the remaining EU member states
- protection of existing registered EU trade marks or registered Community designs in the UK will be through a new, equivalent UK right which will be granted with minimal administrative burden
- we will notify rights holders that a new UK right has been granted by publishing a notification and guidance on our website
- any business, organisation or individual that may not want to receive a new comparable UK registered trade mark or design will be able to opt out
- provision will be made regarding the status of legal disputes involving EU trade marks or registered Community designs which are ongoing before the UK courts and more information will be provided on this before the point at which the UK exits the EU
- applicants with pending applications for an EU trade mark or a registered Community design will not be notified and after exit will need to consider whether they refile with the Intellectual Property Office to obtain protection in the UK
- new applications will be eligible to be filed in the UK for UK trade marks and registered designs as they are now, and at the cost specified in the UK fee structure
- UK applicants, like EU and third country applicants, will continue to be able to apply for protection in the EU through an EU trademark or registered Community design as they do currently.
Last modification 31.10.2019