OFFICE OF JUSTICE
Acquisition of real estate by persons abroad
Purpose of these
Purpose of Swiss federal legislation and
Conditions for transactions subject to authorisation..........
Persons abroad within the meaning of Swiss federal legislation........
Legal entities and companies with no legal personality but able to
acquire property... .. .
Authorisation requirements by type of real estate use...........
Real estate for permanent business establishment purposes.............
Undeveloped land zoned for
Acquisition of real estate within the meaning of Swiss federal
Other exemptions from prior authorisation
Procedure for establishing authorisation
Grounds for authorisation and authorisation
Banks and insurance
Holiday homes and serviced
Administrative, civil and penal consequences of violations...........
These Guidelines are available in German, French, Italian and English
federal law and the relevant ordinance are also available on the
internet in German, French and Italian at http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/c211_412_41.html
Questions on specific cases should be addressed to the authorities in
the canton in ques-tion. Their postal and e-mail addresses, as well as
telephone and fax numbers, are listed in the Appendix to these
Guidelines (p. 13 et seq.).
Purpose of these Guidelines
These Guidelines provide an overview of the federal law and ordinance,
as well as of the complementary cantonal and communal provisions, that
restrict the acquisition of real estate in Switzerland by persons
abroad. The Guidelines are merely for information purpo-ses and are
not legally binding.
Federal law and ordinance:
Federal law of 16 December 1983 on the acquisition of real estate by
persons abroad (Bun-desgesetz über den Erwerb von Grundstücken
durch Personen im Ausland) (FL, SR 211.412.41).
Ordinance of 1 October 1984 on the acquisition of real estate by
persons abroad (Ver-ordnung über den Erwerb von Grundstücken durch
Personen im Ausland) (OFL, SR 211.412.411).
Mandatory enacting provisions concerning cantonal authorities, as well
as optional legal provisions about the introduction of additional
cantonal grounds for authorising or restric-tions for the acquisition
of holiday homes and serviced flats (art.
3, para 2, art. 9 and art. 13, para 1, FL).
Optional legal restrictions on the acquisition of holiday homes and
serviced flats (art.
13, para 2, FL).
Purpose of federal law and principles
Federal law restricts the acquisition of real estate in Switzerland by
persons abroad (art.
1 FL). To acquire real estate for which prior authorisation is
required, authorisation must be obtained from the appropriate cantonal
2, para 1, FL). Consequently, the canton where the real estate is
located bears primary responsibility for enforcing this law. The
authority designated by the canton (art. 15, para 1, subpara a, FL;
see the Appendix, p. 13 et seq., for postal and e-mail addresses as
well as telephone and fax numbers) decides whether a transaction
requires authorisation and whether an authorisation is granted.
Authorisations may be granted only in the cases provided by the FL
and, if appli-cable, by cantonal law (arts.
3, 8 and 9, FL).
terms of the authorisation requirement and granting of an
authorisation, the fact that the real estate may already be in foreign
hands and the legal basis of the acquisition (pur-chase,
barter, gift, inheritance, legacy, acquisition of assets and
liabilities or a business, merger, demerger, conversion of companies
or asset transfer) are, in principle, immaterial. It must be stressed,
however, that ownership of real estate in Switzerland does not entitle
a foreign national in any way to a residence permit.
Conditions for transactions subject to the authorisation requirement
legal transaction is subject to the authorisation requirement, if
three conditions are met cumulatively:
The person acquiring the real estate must be a person abroad within
the meaning of the FL (subjective
authorisation requirement, see section 5).
The object of the transaction must be real estate for which
authorisation is required (ob-jective authorisation requirement
depending on the purpose for which the real estate is used, see
The legal right which is acquired must be considered an acquisition of
real estate within the meaning of the FL (objective
authorisation requirement depending on the type of right, see section
if these three conditions are met, there still exist so called
“further exemptions” from the authorisation requirement (see
transaction requiring authorisation to which no further exemptions
applies can be entered in the Land Register only after the buyer has
obtained authorisation. The same applies to the completion of a
purchase transaction requiring authorisation which does not involve
entry in the Land Register, e.g. transfer of shares of a real estate
company. Permission may be given for a purchase requiring
authorisation under certain circumstances and sub-ject to particular
conditions, however (see section 10). The law provides for
authorisation grounds for banks and insurance companies, for pension
funds and for charitable pur-poses, beneficiaries under wills as well
as in so called cases of hardship. Cantonal law may contain
authorisation grounds for purchasing holiday homes and serviced flats,
secondary residences and low-rent apartments (subsidized
Persons abroad within the meaning of Swiss federal legislation
following natural persons are regarded as persons abroad (art. 5, para
1, subpara a and abis
FL, art. 2 OFL):
foreigners domiciled abroad;
foreigners domiciled in Switzerland, who are nationals of neither a
European Community (EC)
nor European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
Member State and who do not hold a valid C settlement permit.
Therefore, the following natural persons are not subject to the FL:
Swiss nationals domiciled in Switzerland or abroad, including those
who have dual natio-nality;
Nationals of an EC or a EFTA Member State who are legally and actually
domiciled in Switzerland, generally holding a B EC/EFTA permit (resident
foreign nationals) or a C EC/EFTA permit (settled foreign nationals),
eventually an L EC/EFTA permit (short-term
residents); they may also be persons working for embassies, consulates
and internation-nal organisation who hold an identification card from
the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs or persons with a service
certificate who work for foreign railway, post and cus-toms’
administrations based in Switzerland).
Nationals of other countries who hold a valid C settlement permit and
who are actually domiciled in Switzerland; persons working for
embassies, consulates and international organisations or for foreign
railway, post and customs administrations based in Switzer-land are
not considered as persons abroad if they can prove a stay in
Switzerland corresponding to the requirements for a settlement
entitlement (5 or 10 years, depending on their nationality).
According to art. 23 et seq. of the Swiss Civil Code, "domicile" is
defined as the place where a person lives with the intention of
remaining permanently, where their personal rela-tionships are
focused, where they regularly spend their non-working hours, where
they foster friendships and family ties, and where they take part in
the social life of the com-munity. Foreign nationals who claim
exemption from the prior authorisation requirement on the grounds of
their actual domicile in Switzerland must provide relevant proof. A
residence permit from the immigration authorities and confirmation of
registration from the local authority are not regarded in themselves
as sufficient proof. One indication of actual domi-cile is
cohabitation with a spouse or partner and minor children. Other
indications include the person's employment relationship, whether or
not they have registered a vehicle, their tax status and their regular
involvement in a club or association in Switzerland.
Whether or not the acquirer’s spouse has Swiss nationality is
Legal entities and companies without legal personality but capable to
Companies which have their registered office abroad (even if they are
Swiss-owned and are, financially speaking, Swiss companies, art. 5,
para 1, subpara b, FL) are regarded as persons abroad, as are legal
stock companies, partnerships limited by shares, limited liability
companies, cooperatives, associations, foundations) or companies
without legal personality but capable to own property (general
and limited partnerships) which, while having their registered office
in Switzerland, are controlled by persons abroad (art.
5, para 1, subpara c, FL). Control by persons abroad is in particular
presumed when more than one third of a company’s capital or more than
one third of the voting rights are in their hands or if they have
granted substantial loans to the company (art.
Fiduciary transactions, trusts
Persons who are not, in principle, subject to the FL are nevertheless
considered as persons abroad if they acquire real estate on behalf of
persons abroad (fiduciary
transaction, art. 5, para 1, subpara d, FL).
transfer of a property to a trust is in principle subject to the
authorisation requirement of the FL, if any of the trustees or any of
the beneficiaries qualifies as a person abroad. Accor-ding to current
practice an authorisation requirement can be ruled out if the trustees
and the beneficiaries are not regarded as persons abroad and no
additional beneficiaries can be appointed under the trust deed in the
future. Also, an authorisation requirement can arguably be ruled out
if (foreign) beneficiaries are direct descendents of the settlor, if
the settlor is the sole beneficiary or if the beneficiaries do not
acquire interests in the property that are comparable to ownership
rights. However, no settled and undisputed legal practice exists as
yet in this field.
Authorisation requirements by type of real estate use
acquisition by persons abroad of single-family dwellings or apartment
houses, owner-occupied flats and building land intended for
constructing such accommodation is subject in principle to FL
authorisation requirements. Exceptions to this are main residences
(see 6b), secondary residences for cross-border commuters from EC or
EFTA Member States (see 6c) and dwellings that may be purchased in
exceptional circumstances in conjunction with commercial real estate (see
Foreigners domiciled in Switzerland who do not hold a C settlement
permit (see 7a) may purchase a dwelling (single-family house or
owner-occupied) in their actual place of resi-dence (main residence,
art. 2, para 2, subpara b FL, art. 5 and 18a, para 2 OFL; see the
second-last section of 5a for a definition of actual domicile) without
having to obtain authori-sation. The same applies to building land
provided construction work on the accommoda-tion commences within one
year. As nationals of EC and EFTA Member States domiciled in
Switzerland are not considered as persons abroad (see 5a), the
articles on main resi-dences do not apply to them. They apply only to
nationals of other foreign countries who are domiciled in Switzerland
(in general with a B residence permit, eventually also persons working
for embassies, consulates or international organisations and holding
an identifi-cation card from the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs,
or persons with a service certi-ficate establishing them as an
employee of a foreign rail, postal or customs administration service
based in Switzerland). The buyer must occupy the dwelling himself. He
cannot rent it out even in part.
purchase of a main residence is exempted from the authorisation
requirement only if bought in the buyer’s own name (art.
8 OFL). The living area may be of any size, but only one residential
unit may be acquired. There are no restrictions on the real estate
surface area in itself, but it cannot be so large for the real estate
acquisition or even part of it to be regarded as being purely for
investment purposes. This is why the Land Registry does not usually
enter a transaction concerning an area of over 3,000 m2 in
the Register immediately but refers the buyer to the authorisation
body. This body must then 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.
the buyer changes his place of domicile, he need not sell the dwelling
and can dispose of it as he sees fit. He may continue to use it as a
secondary or holiday residence or rent it to third parties. He may
also purchase another home in his new place of domicile without having
to sell the first one. However, a buyer who had no intention of living
in that home permanently is in violation of the law, especially when
he changes his place of domicile for the sole purpose of being able to
purchase several dwellings without requiring authori-sation. In such
cases, the appropriate authorities can invoke authorisation
requirements retroactively (art. 25, para 1bis,
FL) and can order the reinstatement of the original legal situation
(art. 27 FL).
national of an EC or EFTA Member State who commutes cross-border to
work in Switzerland
a G EC/EFTA permit (cross-border commuters) can acquire a secon-dary
residence in the area of his or her place of work without
authorisation (art. 7, para j FL, art. 18a, para 3 OFL). The buyer
must occupy the residence himself for as long as he works in the area
as a cross-border commuter. He cannot rent it out, even in part. The
statements concerning main residences in 6b, para 2 and 3 above (purchase
in the buyer’s own name, living area, real estate surface area,
proceedings, violation of the law) also apply to purchases by
cross-border commuters who are nationals of EC or EFTA Member States
that do not require an authorisation. However, in this case, the Land
Registry will not, as a rule, enter a transaction in the Register
immediately if the real estate surface area exceeds 1,000 m2 (article
18a, para 3, subpara c OFL), but will refer the purchaser to the
appropriate authorisation body instead.
Purchases of secondary residences by non-cross-border commuters are
dealt with under 10g.
Real estate for permanent business establishment purposes
estate which is used for commercial purposes (permanent
business establishments, e.g. manufacturing premises, warehouse
facilities, offices, shopping centres, retail pre-mises, hotels,
restaurants, workshops, doctors’ surgeries) can be acquired without
authori-sation (art. 2, para 2, subpara a, FL). In this case, it is
immaterial whether the real estate is used for the buyer’s business or
rented/leased by a third party in order to pursue a com-mercial
activity. Such real estate properties may also be purchased solely as
an invest-ment. In addition to there being no prior authorisation
requirement for the purchase, the buyer may also acquire other rights
in the real estate such as building, purchasing, first refusal or
repurchase rights, the financing of the real estate purchase or the
purchase of a mortgage note.
constructions, rental or leasing of housing is not recognized as a
permanent business activity within the meaning of art. 2, para 2,
subpara a FL, neither is trading in such housing (art.
3, OFL). The acquisition of real estate for such purposes requires
prior authorisation and is prohibited because there are no grounds for
granting authorisation (with the excep-tion of subsidized housing, see
10h). Living accommodation run on a hotel basis is consi-dered as a
permanent business establishment and can be acquired or built without
exceptional circumstances, living accommodation may be acquired
without prior authori-sation as part of a permanent business
establishment when it is necessary for the business (e.g.
for a caretaker or technician when permanent or almost permanent
on-site presence is essential). Living accommodation may also be
acquired as part of the purchase of a per-manent business
establishment if they are required to fulfil residential quotas under
planning or zoning regulations (art. 2 para. 3 FL). The consistent
practice is also that living accommodation may also be acquired as
part of such transactions if it is impossible in practical terms and
unreasonable to separate this accommodation from the business site
(e.g. house in the middle of a factory site or individual flats in a
factory or a multi-storey commercial building, especially when the
flat can only be accessed through the commercial premises). In cases
of doubt, an official declaration must be obtained from the
appropriate cantonal authorisation body to the effect that no prior
authorisation is required for purchase.
purchase of reasonable land reserves (approximately one third, and in
special cases up to half, of the total surface area) for the expansion
in the medium term of an existing or planned business establishment
does not require prior authorisation either. This means, however, that
about two thirds of the surface area must be already built upon or
should be built upon in the near future, i.e. within a one year
period, and that about one third can be kept undeveloped and unused as
reserve land for a possible extension in the medium term. If the
proportion of undeveloped and unused land exceeds one third, a ruling
must gene-rally be obtained from the appropriate cantonal
Undeveloped land zoned for construction
principle, prior authorisation is required for the acquisition of
undeveloped land in resi-dential, industrial or commercial zones,
except when work on a building for which no such authorisation is
residence, secondary residence, permanent business estab-lishment) is
begun within approximately one year, when it is used as a permanent
business site in some other way (e.g. storage, parking, access) or can
be regarded as permissible land reserves (see 6d). Vacant buildings
which are no longer used for business activity in the medium term
should be regarded as undeveloped land. Land hoarding – even of land
zoned for industrial or commercial rather than residential use – also
counts as an inadmis-sible investment.
Acquisition of real estate within the meaning of Swiss federal
FL’s authorisation requirements apply not only to Land Register
entries of real estate ownership but to any transaction that gives a
non-resident actual control – from a financial viewpoint – of real
estate for which prior authorisation is required.
Consequently, acqui-sition of real estate is defined as:
The acquisition of property (sole, joint ownership or co-ownership
incl. condominium ownership), or of leasehold, occupancy or usufruct
rights to real estate (art.
4, para 1, subpara a, FL);
The acquisition of shares in a legal entity (joint
stock companies, partnerships limited by shares, limited liability
companies, cooperatives), the real purpose of which is the
acqui-sition of real estate, except where these shares are listed on a
stock exchange in Switzerland (art.
4, para 1, subpara e, FL); see also art. 1, para 1, subpara a, OFL.
Consequently, the purchase of just one share in an unlisted company
involved solely or substantially in acquiring residential property or
dealing therein requires prior authori-sation under the FL. This also
applies to the acquisition of a participation certificate (non-voting
Participation in a company capable to own property but having no legal
and limited partnerships), the real purpose of which is the
acquisition of real estate (art.
4, para 1, subpara b, FL);
Acquisition of a share in a real-estate investment fund, the shares of
which are not tra-ded regularly on the market (art.
4, para 1, subpara c, FL).
Consequently, the acquisition of fund units that are regularly traded
on the off-exchange market is not subject to prior authorisation. The
definition of investment funds under the FL excludes investment
companies with variable capital (SICAVs), investment compa-nies with
fixed capital (SICAFs) and limited partnerships for collective capital
invest-ments under the Collective Investment Schemes Act;
Granting and exercise of a right of purchase, first refusal or
repurchase in respect of real estate (art.
4, para 1, subpara f, FL);
The acquisition of other rights which might put the buyer on the same
footing as the owner of a property (art.
4, para 1, subpara g, FL; cf. art. 1, para 2, OFL);
instance, a long-term lease agreement with unusual contractual terms
such as the one off-payment of the rent in advance or the waiving of
consent to fundamental archi-tectural alterations, the linking of a
rental contract to a loan agreement with offsetting of rent against
interest on the loan, the financing of the purchase or development of
the real estate in excess of the usual lending limit applied by Swiss
banks (generally 80% of the market value), a construction ban and
similar ownership restrictions on neighbouring land may be subject to
the authorisation requirement under the FL. In such cases, the
criterion is not the subjective intention of the parties but solely
the objective facts, i.e. (objective judgement of the potential
results obtainable with the procedure adopted by the parties);
Transfer abroad of a company’s headquarters if it retains rights in a
property even when all company shares remain solely in Swiss hands;
art. 4, para 2, FL).
Other exemptions from prior authorisation requirements
prior authorisation is required for, in particular (art. 7 FL):
Legal heirs under Swiss law, if they acquire real estate as part of an
estate (as joint owners or through the division of the estate, subpara
“Legal heirs” refers not only to those who inherit through legal
succession (generally chil-dren, the spouse or the registered partner)
but also beneficiaries under wills who, as relatives of the decedent,
may possibly qualify as legal heirs, should all closer relatives of
the decedent predecease him, for instance a nephew;
Relatives in line of ascent or descent from the person disposing of
the property (grand-parents - parents - children) and their spouse or
registered partner (subpara b).
Transfer to collateral relatives, e.g. brothers/sisters, is not exempt
from prior authorisa-tion requirements. Consequently, the sale of real
estate by a child to its parents is in vio-lation of the law and
requires authorisation if the latter sell it to another child shortly
after-wards, although the individual transactions in themselves do not
require authorisation. The first conveyance too might be aimed at
evading the law if the child acquired the real estate shortly before
selling it to his parents;
Buyers who already hold an interest in the real estate in joint
ownership or co-ownership (subpara. c).
Condominium owners nonetheless require authorisation to purchase
further condomini-um units, as condominiums constitute a particular
form of co-ownership;
Condominium owners exchanging their units in the same building or
housing develop-ment (subpara d).
smaller unit may be exchanged for a slightly larger one, against
payment of the diffe-rence, provided that the authorised surface area
is not exceeded (art. 10, para 2 and 5, OFL.);
The buyer who acquires a small area to complement the real estate he
already owns (subpara
covers the addition of a parking space, an access road or a garden
seating area up to 100 m2 and
the additional acquisition of residential or storage space or covered
par-king that increases his condominium ownership share by less than
Cross-border EC and EFTA commuters for the acquisition of a secondary
residence in the area of their workplace (subpara j, see also 6c).
Under the terms of art. 7a FL, in conjunction with articles 16 and 17
of the Guest Country Act (Gaststaatgesetz), exemption from the
prior authorisation requirement also extends to foreign states and
international organisations, as well as other beneficiaries under this
act, who acquire real estate for official purposes.
Procedure for establishing authorisation requirements
the purchaser cannot immediately rule out the possibility of the
transaction requiring prior authorisation, he must apply to the
appropriate authority for authorisation or for a decla-ration that no
authorisation is required (art. 17, para 1, FL, art. 15, para 1, OFL).
In the case of a transaction requiring prior authorisation, no Land
Register entry or any purchase not requiring a Land Register entry (e.g.
by share transfer) can take place without legal authori-sation.
cantonal authority within whose jurisdiction the real estate or the
portion of the real estate with the highest value is located is
responsible for establishing whether or not prior authorisation is
required (art. 2, para 1 as well as art. 15, para 1, subpara a and
para 2, FL). The Appendix to these Guidelines (p. 16 et seq.) contains
the postal and e-mail addresses and telephone and fax numbers of the
cantonal authorising bodies of first instance and, in the case of
cantons with several authorising bodies, of the cantonal super-visory
the Land Registry, the Commercial Registry Office or the Auctioneers’
Office cannot immediately rule out the possibility of a transaction
requiring prior authorisation, they refer the buyer to the authorising
body to which he must apply for a declaration that no such
authorisation is required or for the granting of an authorisation
within 30 days and within 10 days in auction cases (arts.
18 and 19 FL, art. 15, para 3, subpara a, OFL). This referral is not a
ruling which can be challenged in itself.
authorising body also takes a decision when so requested by a cantonal
authority entit-led to appeal, the Federal Office of Justice, civil
judges, criminal-court judges or some other authority (art.
15, para 3, subparas b and c OFL).
Rulings become legally valid only when the cantonal authority entitled
to appeal, the Fede-ral Office of Justice and the municipality in
which the real estate is located have waived in writing the right to
appeal or if the 30-day appeal time limit has expired without being
used and provided no appeal has been made from another quarter.
contractual partners (buyer
and vendor) and other persons with a valid interest in the lifting or
amendment of a ruling by the cantonal authorising bodies of the first
instance can appeal against it to the cantonal appeals body and lodge
an appeal against the latter’s ruling with the Swiss Federal Supreme
Court. The cantonal authorising body, the Federal Office of Justice
and the municipality in which the real estate is located have the same
20 and 21 FL).
Grounds for authorisation and authorisation procedures
acquisition of real estate for which prior authorisation is required
may be authorised only on grounds provided for in the FL and, as
appropriate, in cantonal legislation (art.
3 FL). Grounds for authorisation under Swiss federal law are listed in
article 8 FL (see
a to e below). Grounds for authorisation under the terms of cantonal
implementation legislation, if authorisation is to be given on that
basis, are regulated in article 9 FL (see
f to h below).
Authorisation is given by the cantonal authority within whose
jurisdiction the real estate is located (see
section 9, para 2). The authorisation is issued subject to conditions
that ensure that the real estate is used for the purpose cited by the
14 FL, art. 11 OFL). The preconditions mentioned at the end of section
9 for appeals against a ruling establishing an authorisation
requirement also apply to appeals against authorisation rulings.
Authorisations lapse if the real estate is not purchased within three
years. In excep-tional cases and on important grounds, the authorising
body may extend this period if the purchaser applies for an extension
before this time limit expires (art.
12, paras 1 and 2, OFL).
Banks and insurance companies
bank or insurance company with a permit to operate in Switzerland may
be granted authorisation if the real estate is encumbered in its
favour with a real estate mortgage and if the purchase is part of a
foreclosure or a liquidation settlement (art. 8, para 1, subpara d
FL). Furthermore, an insurance company may be authorised to make the
acquisition on the grounds of actuarial reserves for domestic business
(art. 8, para 1, subpara b FL).
authorisation may be issued if acquisition of the real estate is used
by a Swiss business for pension scheme operations benefiting personnel
employed in Switzerland (art. 8, para 1, subpara c FL). It should be
pointed out in this connection that foundations subject to
occupational pension scheme legislation (Berufsvorsorgegesetz, BVG)
are not, in practice, considered to be foreign-controlled companies,
even if the company setting up the founda-tion is foreign-controlled.
purchase will be authorised if the real estate is intended for
charitable purposes (art.
8, para 1, subpara c, FL). The real estate must be used directly for
this purpose. It is not suffi-cient for revenue from renting or
leasing it to be used for charitable purposes.
Beneficiaries under wills
Beneficiaries under wills who are not statutory heirs exempt from
prior authorisation (see
beginning of section 8) and cannot claim any other grounds for
authorisation are granted authorisation on condition that they sell
the real estate within two years (art.
8, para 2, FL).
Authorisation without this condition attached may be granted should
the beneficiary be able to prove a close relationship worthy of
protection with the real estate, however. Examples of such
relationships would be where the beneficiary lived in the testator's
house perma-nently or regularly spent weekends there over a long
period, regularly spent holidays with the testator in that house over
a number of years, or lived there permanently as a tenant for many
person abroad who requires authorisation may acquire a holiday
apartment or serviced flat (see
10f) in a present or former holiday resort even if no authorisation
could be granted following a cantonal or municipal authorisation
freeze or the removal of the location from the cantonal list of
holiday resorts, but where this would involve hardship for the vendor
and provided the following conditions are met (art. 8, para 3 FL, art.
4 OFL). The vendor (Swiss
or foreigner) must be in financial difficulties and the dwelling must
have been offered for sale unsuccessfully at cost plus appropriate
interest to persons who do not require authori-sation. The vendor
himself must also have used the dwelling as his main, secondary or
holiday residence or as a serviced flat.
Holiday homes and serviced flats
person abroad who requires authorisation may acquire a holiday home or
serviced flat (art. 9, paras 2 and 3 and art. 10 FL). The dwelling
must be in a place designated by the cantonal authorities as a holiday
resort. Moreover, every authorisation must be deducted from the annual
quota assigned to the cantons by the Confederation for holiday homes
and serviced flats (art.
11 FL, art. 9 OFL and Appendix 1 OFL), except where the vendor has
already received an authorisation in the past for the acquisition of
this dwelling or flat. Quota units may not be assigned to persons not
requiring authorisation for the sale of such flats to persons abroad (known
as authorisation by principle) whereby individual purchases by
foreigners still require authorisation but are no longer counted as
part of the quota. The cantons and tourist municipalities may make
their own restrictions. For instance, they may decide on a total ban
on authorisations for a specific location, or permit acquisitions of
condominiums only and only up to a certain quota. Alternatively, they
may limit the annual number of authorisations or only permit the
purchase of residences that are already foreign-owned (art.
Grounds for authorisation for the acquisition of holiday apartments or
serviced flats are required in the following cantons: Appenzell
Ausserrhoden, Bern, Fribourg, Glarus, Grisons, Jura, Lucerne,
Neuchâtel, Nidwalden, Obwalden, St Gallen, Schaffhausen (for
serviced flats only), Schwyz, Ticino, Uri, Vaud and Valais.
Holiday homes may not be let on an annual basis but at most only
periodically. The purcha-ser must be able to use them at any time for
their alleged purpose.
Serviced flats must be made available to the relevant hotel owner for
hotel operations especially during the high season (art. 10, subpara b
FL). This also applies to a person not requiring authorisation who
purchases a serviced flat from a person abroad. The opera-tional
condition is tied to the object, (art. 7, para 2, OFL). Holiday homes
and serviced flats may be acquired only by natural persons under their
own name. Indirect acquisition via a company is not permitted (art.
general rule, the net floor space (which includes all liveable rooms
such as the kit-chen, hall, toilet, indoor swimming pool, sauna and
hobbies room, but not balconies, the stairwell, cellar and attic) and
the surface area of the real estate must not exceed 200 m2 and
1,000 m2 respectively
(art. 10, paras 2 and 3, OFL). In accordance with consistent practice,
larger areas are authorised automatically on proof of additional need
up to 250 m2 and
to 1,500 m2 respectively.
In exceptional cases the limits may even be higher.
the purchaser or a holiday home or serviced flat, their spouse,
registered partner or child under 18 already own such a dwelling or
secondary dwelling in Switzerland, authorisation may only be granted
provided that the latter dwelling is sold before the new purchase
trans-action is entered in the Land Register (art.
11, para 1 OFL).
foreigner who is not domiciled in Switzerland may be authorised to
acquire a seconddary residence in a place with which they have
exceptionally close ties worthy of protection (art. 9, para 1, subpara
c, FL). Regular ties which the purchaser must maintain to safeguard
mainly economic, scientific or cultural interests are regarded as
”close ties” in this connection. Relationship by blood or marriage
with persons in Switzerland and holiday, spa/recuperative, study or
other temporary stays do not constitute close ties worthy of
following cantons have introduced this justification for
authorisation: Appenzell Ausser-rhoden, Basel-Stadt, Fribourg,
Grisons, Jura, Lucerne, Neuchâtel, St Gallen, Solothurn, Ticino, Uri,
Valais, Vaud and Zurich.
secondary residence may not be rented to third parties and must be
sold within two years if the purchaser no longer uses it as such.
Secondary residences may only be acquired by natural persons under
their own name, and not through a company (art.
same restrictions as for holiday homes apply to the real estate
surface area and net floor area of secondary residences (see
10f). If the purchaser, their spouse, registered par-tner or child
under 18 already own a secondary residence, holiday home or serviced
flat in Switzerland, authorisation may be granted only if the latter
dwelling is sold before the new purchase transaction is entered in the
Land Register (art.
11, para 1 OFL).
Cross-border EC or EFTA commuters do not need authorisation to acquire
a secondary residence in the area of their workplace (see 6c).
person abroad may be authorised to acquire real estate for the
construction of subsidized housing, i.e. for the building of
accommodation with a rent which is low and reasonable compared with
similar premises in the same locality, or to acquire newly built
housing of the same type when there is a local housing shortage (art.
9, para 1, subpara a FL). This reason for authorisation applies only
in cantons Fribourg, Geneva, Grisons, Jura, Neuchâ-tel, Ticino, Valais
Administrative, civil and penal consequences of violations
transaction requiring authorisation is invalid until legal
authorisation has been obtained (art. 26, para 1 FL), although the
contractual partners are still bound by the undertaking. The
transaction becomes null and void with the refusal or revocation of an
authorisation or rejection of the Land Register entry. Moreover, it is
also null and void if the transaction is completed (e.g.
by transferring the shares of a real estate company) without applying
for authorisation or before the authorisation comes into force (art.
26, para 2, FL). Authori-sation may be revoked if conditions are not
complied with, despite a reminder, or if authori-sation has been
obtained under false pretences with incorrect information. The
authorisa-tion requirement may also be determined after the event, if
the purchaser provided incor-rect or incomplete information about
facts of significance for authorisation requirements (art.
the event of nullity, promised performance cannot be claimed but
performance received can be reclaimed within one year (art.
26, para 4 FL). If the parties do not act of their own accord, the
cantonal authority which is entitled to appeal or the Federal Office
of Justice can initiate proceedings to restore the original situation
or for the forced disposal of the real estate (art.
circumvention of authorisation requirements and providing incorrect or
incomplete information in establishing the need for authorisation or
the granting of authorisation in res-pect of the appropriate
authority, Land or Commercial Registry, as well as failure to comply
with conditions and refusal to provide information or hand over
evidence are punishable with a prison sentence or fine (arts.
CH.2144 / SJ / RA
Cantonal authorities of first instance or, in the case of cantons with
several authori-sation bodies, the cantonal supervisory authority
Volkswirtschaft und Inneres des Kantons Aargau Justizabteilung
Sektion Grundbuch & Notariat Bleichemattstrasse 1 5001 Aarau 062
835 14 64 firstname.lastname@example.org
Volks- und Landwirtschaft des Kantons Appenzell Ausserrhoden
Regierungsgebäude 9102 Herisau 071 353 64 50 email@example.com
Volkswirtschaftsdepartement des Kantons Appenzell Innerrhoden
Marktgasse 2 9050 Appenzell 071 788 94 44 firstname.lastname@example.org
Umweltschutzdirektion des Kantons Basel-Landschaft Rheinstrasse 29
4410 Liestal 061 552 53 53 email@example.com
Präsidialdepartement des Kantons Basel-Stadt Schlichtungsstelle
für Mietstreitigkeiten Utengasse 36 Postfach 4005 Basel 061 267 85
Government representatives (26
districts) Supervisory authority: beco – Berner Wirtschaft
Marktaufsicht Laupenstrasse 22 3011 Bern 031 633 50 93
den Erwerb von Grundstücken durch Personen im Ausland des Kantons
Freiburg p.a. Volkswirtschafts-, Verkehrs- und Energiedirektion
des Kantons Freiburg Joseph-Piller-Strasse 13 1701 Freiburg 026
322 03 23 firstname.lastname@example.org
affaires régionales, de l’économie et de la santé du Canton de
Genève Rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville 14 Case postale 3984 1211 Geneva 3
022 546 88 50 email@example.com
Volkswirtschaft und Inneres des Kantons Glarus Zwinglistrasse 6
8750 Glarus 055 646 66 00 firstname.lastname@example.org
Grundbuchinspektorat und Handelsregister des Kantons Graubünden
Rohanstrasse 5 7001 Chur 081 257 24 85 email@example.com
finances, de la justice et de la police du Canton du Jura Service
juridique Rue du 24-Septembre 2 2800 Delémont 032 420 56 35
Government representatives (5 districts) Supervisory authority:
Justiz- und Sicherheitsdepartement des Kantons Luzern Rechtsdienst
Bahnhofstrasse 15 Postfach 3768 6002 Lucerne 041 228 57 92
cantonale pour la sanction d’acquisitions immobilières par des
personnes à l’étranger du Canton de Neuchâtel p.a. Inspectorat du
registre foncier du Canton de Neuchâtel Rue du Tivoli 22 Case
postale 39 2003 Neuchâtel 032 889 61 40 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sicherheitsdirektion des Kantons Nidwalden c/o Rechtsdienst
Dorfplatz 2 6370 Stans 041 618 79 04 email@example.com
Volkswirtschaftsdepartement des Kantons Obwalden
Volkswirtschaftsamt St. Antoniusstrasse 4 Postfach 1264, 6061
Sarnen 041 666 62 20 firstname.lastname@example.org
Grundbuchinspektorat des Kantons St. Gallen Oberer Graben 32 9001
St. Gallen 071 229 37 35 email@example.com
Volkswirtschaftsdepartement des Kantons Schaffhausen
Mühlentalstrasse 105 8200 Schaffhausen 052 632 74 01 firstname.lastname@example.org
Volkswirtschaftsdepartement des Kantons Schwyz Bahnhofstrasse 15
Postfach 1180 6431 Schwyz 041 819 18 18 email@example.com
des Kantons Solothurn Bielstrasse 9 Postfach 364 4502 Solothurn
032 627 75 80 firstname.lastname@example.org
Autorità di prima istanza LAFE c/o Ufficio dei Registri (8
districts) Supervisory authority: Commissione di sorveglianza del
Cantone Ticino per l’applicazione della LAFE c/o Ufficio dei
Registri di Lugano Via Bossi 2A 6901 Lugano 091 815 54 10
Inneres und Volkswirtschaft des Kantons ThurgauRechtsdienst
Verwaltungsgebäude Promenade 8510 Frauenfeld 052 724 23 79
Volkswirtschaftsdirektion des Kantons Uri Klausenstrasse 4 6460
Altdorf 041 875 24 01 email@example.com
Grundbuchämter und Geomatik des Kantons Wallis Rechts- und
Verwaltungsamt Avenue Ritz 24 1951 Sion 027 606 28 00
foncière du Canton de Vaud Section II Rue de la Paix 6 1014
Lausanne 021 316 24 83 olivier.dind@.vd.ch
Volkswirtschaftsdirektion des Kantons Zug Verwaltungsgebäude 1
Aabachstrasse 5 Postfach 857 6301 Zug 041 728 55 00
(12 districts) Supervisory authority: Volkswirtschaftsdirektion des
Kantons Zürich Amt für Wirtschaft und Arbeit Erwerb von Grundstücken
durch Personen im Ausland Walchestrasse 19 8090 Zurich 043 259 26 26