UNITED STATES OF AMERICALogistic and forwarding services in United States of America
316.8 Mio. (est.)
US Dollar (USD)
Gross national product (GNP)
USD 16’237 Mrd. (est.)
GNP per person
USD 51’248 (est.)
Financial exports to Switzerland
CHF 23’503 Mio.
Financial imports from Switzerland
CHF 10’332 Mio.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–United States of America
The USA is a major partner for Switzerland in all respects. Relations between Switzerland and the United States of America are extremely diverse and enjoy a rich tradition. The number of Americans with Swiss origin is estimated to be around one million. The United States is the second largest export market for Switzerland and an important hub for education and research.
In 2015, Switzerland exported goods worth CHF 29.5 billion to the United States. The country is by far the most important destination for Swiss direct investment abroad which, between 2013 and 2014, amounted to CHF 192 billion or 18.1% of all its direct investment abroad. For the United States, Switzerland is an important destination for American direct investors. With direct investments of USD 99.7 billion it is also the third most important country of origin of foreign direct investments in Switzerland.
The dynamism of the American market attracts Swiss companies, and more than 550 Swiss companies have established themselves in the US, employing approximately 298,700 people in 2014.
A Joint Economic Commission and the Trade and Investment Promotion Forum help to strengthen and promote trade relations between the two countries.
Dimensions and weights
National currency US $ = 100 Cents (c).
ISO code: USD
Harmonised system, Customs clearance based on the transaction value.
The USA has tightened import and export controls as part of the anti-terror campaign. US export control law, for example, is the only law in the world applicable outside of domestic territory.
The customs partnership programme C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership against Terrorism) is a voluntary security initiative. Mutual use of the two programmes C-TPAT and the European counterpart AEO has been in place in the EU since 31/01/2013. Sea freight shipments in the USA must be registered by the shipping company with the customs authorities CBP 24 hours before loading at the port of departure. The Container Security Initiative (CSI) provides for the inspection of containers in ports of shipment, among other things. US customs authorities are stationed in some ports of shipment in the EU. The initiative is also used for air freight. Information on the content of the containers must be available to US customs 4 hours before the arrival of the freight (Airway Bill Number -IATA-, flight number, carrier, starting airport, arrival date, number and total weight of packages, description of the goods, name of the loader and recipient, import authorisation, customs status). Despite massive political and economic resistance, the Safe Port Act also provides for 100% scanning of all containers before loading in the future. Information about the recipient and sender is requested by European postal companies.
There is no general control of imports and foreign currencies, but there are import quotas for some goods (e.g. foods, textile products, agricultural products) an Import Liquor License is required for wines and other alcoholic products’ there is a requirement for a licence (or licences) and there are bans on the import of goods from Iran, Cuba, Liberia, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. In accordance with the 1976 decision of the Supreme Court in America, American cities or communities can levy a wealth tax on foreign goods in warehouses (this is important when selecting your location). The Foreign Investment and National Security Act (FINSA 2007) enables the President to reject foreign investment as a final instance. In addition to this, previously there were extensive reporting and notification obligations for foreign investments to CFIUS even beforehand (more information is available from: www.ahk-usa.com).
An (initially) voluntary declaration obligation for importers of primary plant products entered into force on 01/04/2009 (competent authority: APHIS, www.aphis.usda.gov).
The new Consumer Product and Safety Act Improvement Act 2008 entered into force on 14/08/2008. Goods which are affected by the new Import Safety Strategy in particular are toys, but the Act also regulates new obligations for manufacturers, suppliers and freight forwarders with regard to the submission of certificates of conformity on import (more information is available from: www.ahk-usa.com).
Since 27/01/2011, certificates of conformity have to be provided by manufacturers for plastic films made of vinyl, carpets and clothing. The 10+2 security initiative (“10+2 security filings”) entered into force on 26/01/2009. This means that importers and freight forwarders are obliged to send the US customs authorities data amounting to an additional 10+2 data. More information is available from: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/trade/cargo_security/carriers/security_filing/
Stricter regulations for sea forwarders (and depending on the terms of delivery) apply as a result of the Importer Security Filling (ISF), which must be notified to the US customs administration, otherwise they risk fines as of 26/01/2010. The import of used metal products is only possible on provision of a mill certificate, There has been an increase in the customs processing fees from 0,21% to 0,3464% of the FOB value since 01/10/2011 (until 30/11/2015).
The USA has imposed a full embargo on Iran. Exports and re-exports from third countries into Iran which contain >10% US goods (simplified representation) are also subject to additional US authorisation. Only goods for humanitarian aid (e.g. food and medication) are currently able to obtain authorisation at all.
Terms of payment and tenders
Terms of payment are subject to free agreement.
Depending on the creditworthiness of the customer, the following are standard:
- Documents against payment;
- Payment via sight draft after 30 to 90 days.
Irrevocable letters of credit are not particularly standard.
Tenders in USD, where possible CIF US port of arrival (indicate the fob price in particular) showing binding delivery dates recommended. Tenders and brochure material should be prepared in English. When submitting tenders, US units of measurement are preferred. Electronic signatures are legally valid in the USA.
Designations of origin
Correct designations of origin on goods and packaging are required. “EU” is not recognised; in various cases the manufacturer or the buyer must also be indicated in English (information on this can be obtained from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce).
Not all goods can be labelled “Made in …” based on the US opinion. The provisions are very detailed, including regarding the labelling of foods, cosmetics, medicinal products, cosmetics, flammable items of clothing, toys, beauty products etc. Ask the recipient.
Seaworthy packaging. Do not use hay and straw as packaging materials. When importing pallets and other wooden packaging (including filler material), the exporter must provide a certificate showing that the packaging is free from pesticides, harmful substances etc. (indicate the type of inner packaging on the outer packaging, otherwise it is likely to be opened by customs). According to the ISPM 15 standard, imported packaging material made of wood must be treated and labelled in accordance with the criteria set out in the ISPM, regardless of the country of origin. The import of untreated packaging wood is prohibited. In the case of severe infringements the goods can be seized and may be destroyed. Sea freight containers must be sealed with a high security seal (ISO/PAS 17712 standard).
Samples with no retail value or samples which can only be used as such or the value of which does not exceed USD 1 are exempt from import duties.
Exemption from customs duties for samples of tobacco products and alcoholic drinks is limited to shipments sent to relevant companies. These companies may only import one sample of a product per quarter duty free and no sample shipment may contain more than 3 cigars, 3 cigarettes, 1/8 of an ounce of tobacco, 1/8 of an ounce of snuff, 3 cigarette tubes, 25 sheets of cigarette paper, 8 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine or 2 ounces of another alcoholic drink. Making use of the ATA Carnet procedure set out there is advisable (US customs requires Carnets in English). Not applicable to items for exhibitions or trade fairs.
Shipping and accompanying documents
Each invoice may not contain more than one shipment on a ship or another means of transport from one sender to one recipient. Each invoice should refer to an employee of the exporter who is information about the process and responsible for it. In the case of shipments of goods up to USD 2.500 (informal entries), customs clearance is on the basis of the invoice submitted. Standard and
a) Commercial invoices (4 copies) in English, uncertified, without a signature. Standard information including an indication of the location of shipment and import and the date of sending and the harmonised system code. Indicate the country of origin as “Swiss” for goods from Swiss. Precise information in an import declaration to be submitted by the importer regarding additional price information on the individual CIF costs. Agree with the importer, see a). Where applicable make the clear declaration: “Transaction between not related parties”.
b) Special customs invoices for:
– cotton goods, cotton and linen fabrics
– Customs Form 5519
– shoes – Interim Footwear Invoice – Customs Form 5523
– steel goods – Customs Form 5520 (SSSI = Special Summary Steel Invoice – 2 copies) for certain steel goods worth more than USD 10,000.
Instructions for Preparation of Special Summary Steel Invoice are available to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
A packing list should be included with the commercial invoice and must be filled in carefully so customs can check the loading.
Various special provisions for foods, textiles, electronic items etc. must be taken into account (Chamber of Industry and Commerce, professional associations).
c) Certificates of origin are generally not required; a precise indication of the origin in the customs invoices is sufficient. Certificates of origin are required for German wines; ask the Chamber of Industry and Commerce as there are special provisions (e.g. wine).
d) Bills of lading do not require certification.
e) Postal packages up to 31,5 kg, for commercial customers with a contract 30 kg: 1 international dispatch note, 1 customs declaration in English, 1 commercial invoice, indicate the exact federal state: do not include any letters in postal packages, otherwise you will pay double fees. “Airmail” sticker on the international dispatch note. Air freight/sea freight: as for a) to c). There is a simplification of customs clearance for postal packages and air freight shipments of a value of less than USD 2.000.