Switzerand | Non-resident Businesses Liable for Swiss TV Licence Fee from 2019

In a referendum held on 4th March 2018, Switzerland voted against abolishing its mandatory broadcasting licence fee.

As a curious by-product, many foreign businesses, registered for Swiss VAT but with no physical presence in Switzerland may have to pay the fee at the highest rate of CHF 35,590, starting from 1st January 2019.

This is because as of that date, the current radio and television reception fee system whereby the basis of liability depends on whether radio and television devices are present in the business, will be replaced with a new device-independent universal radio-television fee. This fee will generally be paid by every business with an annual global turnover of at least CHF 500,000, and the charge amount will vary from CHF 365 to CHF 35,590 per year, depending on the turnover of the individual business.

Once a business is entered into the Swiss VAT register, it will generally be liable for the radio-television charge: of course, many more foreign businesses are required to register for VAT in Switzerland, now that the mandatory registration threshold of CHF100,000 applies to a company’s global instead of Swiss annual turnover. Further, as of 1st January 2019, foreign mail-order companies that reach an annual turnover of CHF 100,000 from small consignments delivered into Switzerland, will also have to register and account for Swiss VAT.

Businesses with an annual global turnover below CHF 500,000 will be exempt from the radio-television fee.  It is important to note that turnover which is deemed exempt for VAT purposes, for example, VAT-exempt supplies, will be included in the assessment of the applicable fee rate.

If you have any questions about this development or about the change to the Swiss mandatory VAT registration threshold which has been in effect since 1st January 2018, please do not hesitate to get in touch.