Lex Koller: What you need to know

Our guide to buying real estate in Switzerland.

Advisor for foreigners purchasing real estate in Switzerland

Our Lex Koller legislation guide provides an initial overview regarding the acquisition of real estate in Switzerland. It goes without saying that it is not a substitute for the advice which can be given by legal and tax advisors. If you are planning to acquire real estate in Switzerland, then you should use the services of a specialist law firm.

This guide has been developed with the assistance of Dr Corrado Rampini of Bär & Karrer AGHe is a leading expert on real estate transactions and Lex Koller legislation in Switzerland. 

Fearing a ‘clearance sale’ in the country, Switzerland first introduced legislation restricting the purchase of real estate by foreigners in 1961. The rules have been relaxed on several occasions, most recently in 1997, and are now known under the name ‘Lex Koller’ (‘Koller's Law’). The law was enacted by the federal government, bringing it into force across Switzerland. The cantons are responsible for ensuring it is enforced.

The law, which is based on a negative definition, governs the types of real estate transaction for which foreigners must seek special authorisation.

All transactions that meet all of the following criteria require this authorisation:

  • The purchaser is a foreign non-resident;
  • The real estate incurs an authorisation obligation by virtue of how it is to be used;
  • The right acquired in the purchase is deemed to represent the acquisition of property 
         within the meaning of the ANRA

All other types of transaction do not require special authorisation and are thus easy to carry out.

All chapters of the guide at a glance

Do you have questions about the topic or would you like a print edition? Please do not hesitate to contact us or to stop by at one of our property shops.

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