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Buying property

Gaetan Bally/Keystone

Foreigners are allowed to buy real estate in Switzerland, but the conditions vary depending on the type of property and the buyer’s country of origin.

This content was published on September 7, 2022 - 16:31

Switzerland has a specific federal law regulating how foreigners can buy property, known as the “Lex Koller” (after former justice minister Arnold Koller). Its aim is to limit the purchase of property by non-residents in order to “prevent Swiss territory from falling into foreign hands”.

No category of foreign national needs authorisation to acquire real estate for professional, commercial or industrial purposes (with the exception of real estate slated for construction, trade or rental accommodation). Swiss companies controlled by persons who are authorised to acquire real estate may freely purchase such property.

Ownership of a house, apartment or land in Switzerland does not entitle you to a residence permit.

Foreign nationals living in Switzerland

Nationals of European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries living in Switzerland have the same rights as Swiss citizens. This means that they do not need authorisation to purchase property.

Citizens of other (or “third”) countries (including the United Kingdom) living in Switzerland have the same rights as Swiss citizens if they hold a settlement permit (C permit). If not, they need to obtain authorisation in order to buy a holiday home, a residential unit in a serviced apartment building, or a second home.

However, they can freely acquire their main residence if they have a residence permit (B permit) and will be living in the home on a permanent basis. This rule also applies for buying land, but building work must start within one year of acquiring the land.

Cross-border commuters from the EU/EFTA (G permit holders) may acquire a second home in the area where they work without the need to obtain authorisation. However, they may not rent out this property as long as they are working in the region as a cross-border commuters.

Foreign nationals living abroad

Foreign nationals living outside Switzerland must request authorisation to purchase property from the respective authority in the canton where it is located. The conditions may vary according to the canton and the type of property.

Foreigners living abroad may only buy a second home in a place with which they have “exceptionally close ties worthy of protection”. The property must be located in a tourist area; the living area may not exceed 200m²; the site area may not exceed 1,000m²; and the property may not be rented out.

Like Swiss citizens, foreign nationals cannot build a second home in municipalities where more than 20% of properties are already secondary residences.

The number of holiday homes or residential units in a serviced apartment building that can be sold to foreign nationals is subject to a national quota allocated among the cantons. Holiday homes cannot be rented out year-round but only on a temporary basis.

Foreign nationals living outside Switzerland may not own more than one holiday home or second home.

More information on buying property in Switzerland:

Purchasing property in Switzerland as a foreign nationalExternal link (ch.ch)

Acquisition of real estate by persons abroadExternal link (Federal Office of Justice)

Federal law on acquiring propertyExternal link (French, German and Italian only)

Regulation on buying propertyExternal link (French, German and Italian only)

Property pricesExternal link (Federal Statistical Office)



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