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Real estate Foreign property purchase rules left unchanged

Traditional stone house in a Ticino mountain valley surrounded by construction profiles

The construction of holiday homes by foreign residents in the Swiss Alps has been made more complicated following voters approval of controversial proposal in 2012.


The government has decided to abandon plans for tighter restrictions on real estate purchases in Switzerland by foreigners living abroad.

Most political parties, organisations and cantons opposed the plan, which was submitted for consultation, according to the justice ministry.

The government initially proposed to reform a 1985 law, notably closing loopholes, simplifying administrative procedures and improving implementation, according to the ministry statement on Wednesday.

Under the plans, citizens from outside the European Union and the European Free Trade Association would have been compelled to apply for an official permit even if they planned to live in the purchased property.

The government says it will continue to examine proposals to restrict co-ownership in Swiss companies by people living outside Switzerland.

Long history

Property ownership in Switzerland for foreign residents has been restricted for nearly 60 years.

The rules were tightened several times before the turn of the millennium. Parliament has blocked attempts by the government over the past 15 years for a partial easing of the regulations.

Several people’s initiatives over the past five decades have also tried to limit the construction of holiday homes. In 2012, voters narrowly approved a 20% cap on holiday homes in mountain regions.

+ How the vote caused uncertainty for the tourist industry and SDA-ATS; urs

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