Experiences show that a standard attitude of foreign companies is to assume that the Swiss VAT system applies the same concepts and rules as the VAT system of their home country. However, this is not case.
The Swiss VAT system has peculiarities that makes it distincting from foreign VAT systems, for example:
In these situations Swiss VAT shall not be charged. This practice applied by the Swiss tax authorities makes it almost impossible for foreign companies to recover their paid Swiss VAT. Namely, in the scope of the Swiss VAT refund procedure the Swiss tax authorities refuse refund as they argue that the zero rate should have been applied. However, in most situations, foreign companies are not able to proof export from Switzerland as they were not aware of this tax practice and did not take the necessary precautions.
By verifying the Swiss VAT consequences of sales or purchase transactions before they are agreed, a foreign company can prevent to be confronted afterwards with not expected implications. Verifying the VAT treatment of transactions is possible by consulting the information published by the Swiss tax authorities or by consulting a VAT specialist with knowledge about Swiss VAT.