Sending and receiving packages in Switzerland


As an expat, there are inevitably certain items you might want or need from back home, and around the holiday period, many people like to send gift packages.

How easy is it to send and receive packages in Switzerland?

Is the public postal system efficient?

Do people tend to prefer using private shipping services? Which ones?

How do the costs of the private shipping services compare?

How long does it take generally to receive packages from abroad in Switzerland?

Do you have to pay taxes on items received by mail from abroad?

Are packages delivered right to your doorstep, or do you usually have to go collect them somewhere?

Thank you for sharing your experience,


Sending and receiving packages is easy in Switzerland. The postal system is highly efficient and the prices are moderate - for Swiss standards, of course. If you register with Swiss Post, at their website, you'll be able to steer the ways in which you wish to receive your packages - by Murphy's Law, you'll never be at home when the mailman rings. Alternatives are: delivery to another address (your work, for example), to a locker (which can be accessed 24/7, you'll get a code to open the locker) or at a ticket counter at a railway station.
All international incoming packages may, can and will be checked by customs. Be sure to declare your package correctly, and tell your relatives to do the same with packages that are to be sent to you. Expect to pay VAT, duties and - on top of it - a service fee on incoming packages. Custom fees can be annoyingly high.

Personally, I send packages from Germany.  the price is about 50% less if you purchase at the PO, but you can also buy postage from (I have no association with them) and the price can be even cheaper ...

Receiving packages by post or courier is crazy - you get killed on the taxes and fees coming in. If coming from the EU, I have it shipped to the PO in Lotstetten and declare it myself.  Usually save a bundle.

When getting something from home (US for me) I try to find someone coming from the same town.  When they carry it in with luggage, the exemption is sFr.300 and no fees if they have to pay the MwSt on my behalf.  Perhaps a bit easier for me as I belong to a close-knit religious community with a big enough WhatsApp group to find someone ...

If you live close to German or French border you have an option to receive your packages there. If you are in Central Switzerland , don't order anything you might want to return back to EU. You will never get your customs duties back. It is very easy to loose 40-70 CHF on one transaction. I only order things I know I will keep. The rest ships to Germany.