Brexit: what are the consequences for foreign buyers?

21 December 2020

| News

The conditions imposed by law, in particular the Lex Furgler and Lex Koller, are strict for foreign buyers wishing to buy in Switzerland. Below is a short summary of the current situation, according to an article published in the Tribune de Genève on Saturday, September 26, 2020.

Permits B and C

  • Holders of a C permit are treated as Swiss citizens when it comes to the acquisition of real estate. All they need to do is certify that they are actually domiciled there and that they are not buying the property for an unauthorized person.
  • Holders of valid B residence permits are divided into two categories:
    • Citizens of EU and EFTA member states can acquire apartment buildings on their own account.
    • Citizens from other countries can only acquire accommodation as their primary residence. They must provide the same certificates as Swiss and C permit holders and agree to move into the accommodation as their main residence within 6 months. Finally, they must confirm that neither they nor a member of their family already own property in Switzerland.

What about British nationals during Brexit?

For citizens of the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and Northern Ireland, the issue is more complex. The UK is no longer a member of the EU and is not a member of the EFTA. Thus, its citizens are now considered citizens of an “other state”, according to the criteria outlined in the LFAIE (Federal Law on the Acquisition of Real Estate by Persons Abroad).

However, a reciprocal agreement was signed in February 2019 between the EU and the United Kingdom to guarantee the acquired rights of nationals from both places. Different areas are affected by this agreement, including the real estate market. It is stipulated that “UK nationals living in Switzerland before the termination of the agreement with the EU will be able to continue to acquire property in Switzerland like Europeans.

What will happen to new residents from the UK who have obtained their residence permit in the months following a possible termination of the agreement with their country? It is currently not possible to say.