Brexit: what are the consequences for foreign buyers?

15 January 2021

| News

The conditions imposed by the laws, 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.

B and C Permit holders

  • Holders of a C permits are treated as Swiss citizens when it comes to the acquisition of real estate. They need to 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, effectively domiciled in Switzerland, are divided into two categories:
    • If they are citizens of EU and EFTA member-states, they can acquire primary or secondary residences almost like Swiss citizens. A few minor restrictions are in place for very large estates.
    • Citizens from every other country (Post-Brexit UK included) can only freely acquire a primary residence and they are submited to the sames restrictions as non-residents for the purchase of a secondary residence. Finally, they must confirm that neither they nor a member of their family already own property in Switzerland, they cannot resel with a profit for the first 5 years, and they are not authorised to rent out their secondary residence on a yearly basis.

What about British nationals since Brexit?

For citizens of the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and Northern Ireland, since the UK is no longer a member of the EU and is not a member of the EFTA. 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 agreement was signed in February 2019 between the Switzerland and the United Kingdom to guarantee the acquired rights of their citizens abroad. Therefore, “UK nationals domicilied in Switzerland before the 31st of December 2020, will be able to continue to acquire property in Switzerland as if they were still EU/EFTA members.

The referendum deadline having expired on January 14, 2021, it is now clear that UK citizen having obtained their residence permit after January 1st 2021 are considered as “nationals of other foreign states” meaning they will have the same restrictions as if they were from Quatar, Brazil or the United States of America for example.