CO2 TAX WHEN IMPORTING A CAR INTO SWITZERLAND - EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

In this article you will learn everything about the CO2 tax on car imports to Switzerland (also known as the CO2 tax) and how you can get a reduction on your high-emission vehicles or a bonus for low-CO2 vehicles through CO2 Börse AG.

WHICH VEHICLES ARE AFFECTED BY THE CO2 LEVY WHEN IMPORTING CARS?

CO2 taxes are payable
• for Passenger carsthat meet the CO2 limit value of 118 g/km (2021) and
• for light commercial vehiclesthat, since the beginning of 2020, have emitted more than 186 g/km (2021) have.

A CO2 tax on light commercial vehicles and passenger cars is levied on imported cars,
• which are admitted to Switzerland for the first time and
• that have been registered abroad for a maximum of six months before being imported into Switzerland.

Vehicles that have already been registered abroad for more than six months are not subject to the CO2 emission obligation  for light commercial vehicles and passenger cars and can be presented to the motor vehicle inspection authority (MFK) on the occasion of the first placing on the market in Switzerland without a test procedure for the CO2 tax. 

DEFINITION CO2 TAX: WHAT DOES CO2 TAX ON CAR IMPORTS MEAN?

In July 2012, Switzerland introduced CO2 emission regulations for passenger cars (PW) registered in Switzerland for the first time. The 130 g CO2/km limit that has applied to passenger cars since then has been reduced to 95 grams per kilometre from 2020 and will be 118 CO2/km in 2021.

In addition, a CO2 limit for light commercial vehicles (LNF) of 147 grams of CO2 per kilometre was introduced in 2020 and will be 186 CO2/km in 2021. LNFs include light articulated lorries and vans.

The CO2 tax on car imports is a governmental steering instrument that is intended to contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions in Switzerland. If the CO2 target values are exceeded, the importer must pay a CO2 levy on passenger cars as a sanction and, since 2020, also a CO2 levy on light commercial vehicles.

The CO2 tax on passenger cars and light commercial vehicles is aimed at the transport sector, which at 32 per cent is the largest contributor to Switzerland’s CO2 emissions among all economic sectors.

A distinction must be made between the CO2 tax on passenger cars and the CO2 tax on light commercial vehicles and the CO2 tax on fossil fuels such as natural gas and heating oil, which has been levied since 2008 and is subject to separate provisions of the CO2 Act. CO2 Tax Switzerland Refund: Two thirds of the CO2 tax on fossil fuels will be returned to the Swiss population and economy via the health insurance companies as an eco-bonus, irrespective of individual fuel consumption.

HOW MUCH CO2 TAX DO SMALL IMPORTERS AND LARGE IMPORTERS PAY EACH YEAR?

For the calendar year 2019, large Swiss importers paid CO2 sanctions amounting to 77.0 million Swiss francs. This means that the CO2 levy volume paid for 2019 is far higher than the amount of CHF 31.1 million paid in 2018. The Federal Office of Energy cites the reduced penalty level for the first three grams of a target violation only up to and including 2018 as the cause of the significant increase in CO2 penalties for 2019.

  • Out of 79 large importers registered for 2019 (2018: 74),
  • 19 large importers paid CO2 taxes,
  • 54 major importers did not owe CO2 sanctions because they met their targets,
  • the CO2 tax calculations for six large importers had not yet been completed (at the time of a report by the SFOE on 2 July 2020).

Small importers paid CO2 penalties totalling CHF 1.2 million for 2019.

CO2 LEVY: SMALL IMPORTERS AND PRIVATE IMPORTERS

WHAT ARE SMALL IMPORTERS?

A small importer is a person who in a calendar year

  • less than 50 PW respectively
  • less than 6 LNF
    into Switzerland.

A small importer is also a person who imports his own private new car from abroad and places it on the market in Switzerland (private importer).

The status as small importer or large importer is determined separately for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.

Small importers settle the CO2 tax on each car individually with the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO). A CO2 tax due must be paid by the small importer before the imported vehicle may be put into circulation.

CO2 LEVY ON CARS: PRICE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ASTRA (FEDERAL OFFICE FOR ROADS) AND CO2 BÖRSE AG

CO2 Börse AG has already been enabling small importers (car dealers and private individuals) to process the CO2 levy at an improved rate since June 2012. Since June 2012, CO2 Börse AG has enabled small importers (car dealers and private individuals) to process the CO2 tax at an improved rate.small importers can determine possible cost reductions online with the CO2 tax calculator of CO2 Börse AG.

LUCRATIVE CO2 BONUS FOR IMPORTERS

Individuals

Car importers can secure an attractive CO2 bonus from CO2 Börse AG, with which we reward the import of particularly fuel-efficient vehicles. For multiple importers, the CO2 bonus effectively means a CO2 tax Switzerland refund.

The CO2 bonus of CO2 Börse AG is an immediate cash payment that small importers and large importers receive if the CO2 emissions of an imported vehicle are below the CO2 target value (for example: below the target value of 118 g CO2/km applicable to passenger cars).

Small importers and large importers, private individuals and commercial car dealers benefit from the CO2 bonus of CO2 Börse AG in the same way as from a CO2 Tax Switzerland refund. The only mandatory requirement for the payment of a CO2 bonus is that the vehicle is registered in the same calendar year.
The amount of the CO2 bonus depends on the factors empty vehicle weight and CO2 emissions.

If you want to benefit from the CO2 bonus as a private importer, please send us the original Swiss customs form 13.20A and the COC (EU declaration of conformity) by post.

Private individuals can calculate their CO2 bonus with the CO2 calculator of CO2 Börse AG.

LARGE AND SMALL IMPORTERS

As a commercial car dealer (small importer or large importer), you first register on the online platform of CO2 Börse AG in order to receive the CO2 bonus according to our dealer tariff and thus in effect an attractive CO2 tax Switzerland refund. Please then send the customs document 13.20 A and the type certificate data sheet to our e-mail address info@co2-boerse.ch. You will then receive information from CO2 Börse AG on how to proceed. Take advantage of the opportunity for a de facto CO2 tax refund in Switzerland!

THIS IS HOW THE CO2 LEVY ON PASSENGER CARS AND LIGHT COMMERCIAL VEHICLES IS CALCULATED

As a small importer of a new vehicle imported into Switzerland, you can easily determine the CO2 tax using our online tool. (The tool is only suitable for calculating CO2 taxes on passenger cars and light commercial vehicles of small importers, but not for calculating CO2 taxes for cars that belong to the fleet of a large importer. Registration on the dealer platform is mandatory for this).

Please enter the following data in our online form for the calculation of the CO2 levy:

  • the manufacturer brand
  • the year of vehicle importation into Switzerland,
  • the vehicle weight and
  • the CO2 emissions of the vehicle.

Please refer to the Certificate of Conformity (COC) issued by your vehicle manufacturer for the weight and vehicle-specific CO2 emissions.

Note: The COC shows three CO2 emission values (urban, extra-urban and combined). Please enter the combined value indicated in the COC in the online form.

Finally, please complete your personal contact details (name, telephone number and e-mail address).

THE FURTHER PROCEDURE FOR THE HANDLING OF THE CO2 LEVY ON CARS

After you have determined the CO2 tax, please send us (in each case in the original)

  • the COC and
  • the Swiss customs document 13.20 A.

Once we have received your documents, we will process the CO2 levy on your car via our CO2 pool at the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO).

CALCULATION OF THE CO2 EMISSION ON A CAR: FORMULA AND CALCULATION EXAMPLE

The amount of the CO2 levy for a car depends on the vehicle weight and the extent to which the vehicle’s individual CO2 target value is exceeded.

The CO2 levy is calculated according to the following formula:

1.) DETERMINATION OF THE PERMISSIBLE CO2 EMISSIONS FOR INDIVIDUAL VEHICLES

Vehicle individually permissible vehicle target value in g CO2/km (here: for passenger cars):

118 g or 145 g CO2/km + factor a* x (empty vehicle weight of the reference year minus average empty weight of all new vehicles of the previous year) g CO2/km

*The “factor a” is a legally specified quantity on a target value line, which is 0.0333 for passenger cars and 0.096 for light commercial vehicles.

The above formula is based on the following basic rule: the higher the vehicle weight, the higher the vehicle-specific permissible CO2 emission.

2.) CHECKING COMPLIANCE WITH THE VEHICLE-SPECIFIC PERMISSIBLE CO2 EMISSIONS

Let us assume, for example,

  • that the calculation under 1.) has resulted in an individually permissible CO2 target value of 100 g CO2/km, and
  • that the COC shows a combined CO2 emission value of 104 g CO2/km.

In our example case, the vehicle exceeds its permissible CO2 emission value by 4 g CO2/km. This excess of 4 g CO2/kg forms the basis for the calculation of the CO2 tax in Swiss francs.

3.) CALCULATION OF THE CO2 LEVY ON CARS: PROPORTIONAL TO THE EXCEEDANCE OF THE TARGET VALUE

The CHF amount of the CO2 levy per gram of CO2 target value exceeded is determined annually by DETEC (Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications). In doing so, DETEC is guided by the range set out in the CO2 Act, which will be between 95 and 152 francs from 2019 (Article 13(1) and (2) CO2 Act).

For 2020, a CO2 levy on passenger carsof CHF 109 per gram of target value exceeded is calculated, and for 2021 CHF 103.50 (Annex 5 paragraph 3 of the CO2 Ordinance).

This results in the following CO2 tax for a passenger car in our calculation example:

Due to the 2020 target exceedance of 4 g CO2/km, the CO2 levy for the car is 4*109 CHF, i.e. 436 CHF.

CO2 LEVY ON CAR IMPORTS: HOW IS IT HANDLED WITH CO2 BÖRSE AG?

  • If CO2 Börse AG is involved, private individuals can calculate the CO2 tax themselves with a clear online tool by entering just a few data.
  • The private importer then sends the following original documents to CO2 Börse AG:
    • Customs document 13.20 A
    • Certificate of conformity, COC
    • a foreign registration certificate, if applicable
  • After checking the documents, CO2 Börse AG sends them, including the CO2 cession form, to FEDRO.
  • The original documents will be returned after receipt of the tax payment.
  • The entire process usually takes three to five days.

COMMERCIAL IMPORTERS

Commercial importers (small importers and large importers) register free of charge on the CO2 Börse AG trader platform.

  • The importer records the import vehicle on the dealer online platform.
  • With the database that is now available, the CO2 cession form is automatically created and sent to the importer by e-mail in just a few seconds.
  • The commercial importer now sends the following documents to FEDRO:
    • Customs document 13.20 A
    • Certificate of conformity, COC
    • CO2 Assignment form
    • a foreign registration certificate, if applicable.
  • Processing via the Federal Roads Office usually takes two to three days.

HOW IS THE CO2 LEVY HANDLED WITHOUT THE INVOLVEMENT OF CO2 BÖRSE AG?

For a vehicle that is imported into Switzerland by a small importer and for which a CO2 tax is payable on passenger cars and, since 2020, also on light commercial vehicles, the small importer must apply to the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) for the issue of a certificate.

  • First, the small importer must assess on his own responsibility whether the vehicle is affected by the CO2 tax on cars. The only assistance available on the FEDRO website is a flowchart for checking a possible CO2 tax liability.
  • If the importer concludes that his car is eligible for a CO2 levy, he downloads an application form for the certificate from the FEDRO website.
  • After completing the form correctly, the importer sends his application to the Federal Roads Office, enclosing the required original documents (customs form 13.20 A, COC and, if applicable, a foreign registration certificate).
  • FEDRO will endeavour to send the applicant an invoice for the CO2 tax by A Mail within five working days. The invoice identifies the vehicle for which a CO2 levy was calculated when importing the car and also specifies the CO2 target value excess.
  • After receipt of the tax payment, FEDRO returns the original documents to the small importer.

WHOLESALE IMPORTERS

WHO IS A LARGE-SCALE IMPORTER?

A large importer is a person who in a calendar year

  • at least 50 PW respectively
  • at least 6 LNF

imported into Switzerland and placed it on the market.
(Article 18 CO2 Regulation)

PROVISIONAL STATUS AS A MAJOR IMPORTER

An importer may apply to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy to be provisionally treated as a large-scale importer for a reference year if it has not yet fulfilled the conditions for large-scale importers (import of at least 50 PW or 6 LNF) in the previous year (Article 19 CO2 Ordinance).

FORMATION OF EMISSION COMMUNITIES

Importers and manufacturers can join together for a period of one to five years to form a PW or LNF emissions pool in order to jointly achieve the minimum import volumes applicable to large importers (Article 22 CO2 Ordinance). The application for the formation of an emissions pool must be submitted to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy by 30 November of the calendar year preceding the reference year at the latest.

Example: The application for the formation of an emissions pool for the calendar year 2022 must be submitted by 30 November 2021 at the latest.

INDIVIDUAL TARGETS FOR LARGE IMPORTERS

Large importers receive individual CO2 targets from the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE). The implementation of these CO2 targets is monitored by the SFOE in cooperation with the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO).

CALCULATION OF THE CO2 TARGET ACHIEVEMENT

Large importers do not calculate the CO2 tax on cars individually for each imported vehicle. Instead, the billing of the CO2 tax for light commercial vehicles and passenger cars to be carried out by large importers via the Federal Office of Energy is uniform for the entire vehicle fleet, namely at the CO2 average value (arithmetic mean) of all new vehicles imported in a calendar year.

Large importers will continue to benefit from two special regulations in the calculation of CO2 target attainment until 2022:

Under the exemption rule, the highest-emission vehicles in an import fleet are not taken into account when determining target attainment. Only a certain percentage of the vehicle fleet is included in the calculation of target achievement – namely the vehicles with the lowest CO2 emissions within a fleet:

  • Reference year 2020: 85 percent of a vehicle fleet,
  • Reference year 2021: 90 percent,
  • Reference year 2022: 95 percent.
    (Article 27(2) CO2 Regulation)

The so-called super-credits also make it easier for large importers to reach their targets by crediting vehicles with CO2 emissions of less than 50 g/km:

  • Reference year 2020: 2-fold,
  • Reference year 2021: 1.67-fold,
  • reference year 2022: 1.33-fold.
    (Article 27(3) CO2 Regulation)
LIMITED CONSIDERATION OF ECO-INNOVATIONS IN THE TARGET ACHIEVEMENT OF LARGE AND SMALL IMPORTERS

If the emissions of the new vehicle fleet of a large importer or the emissions of a vehicle of a small importer are reduced by eco-innovations, this reduction is credited with a maximum of 7 grams of CO2/km (Article 26 paragraph 1 CO2 Ordinance).

CO2 reductions due to eco-innovations shown in the certificate of conformity (COC) are multiplied by the following factors, which decrease from year to year. This gradually reduces the initially significantly increased weighting of eco-innovations for CO2 target achievement:

  • Reference year 2021: Factor 1.9,
  • Reference year 2022: factor 1.7,
  • Reference year 2023; factor 1.5.
    (Article 26(2) CO2 Regulation).
CALCULATION OF THE CO2 TAX

If a large importer or a small importer exceeds its CO2 target, CO2 tax becomes due.

Each year, the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) determines the amount of the penalty for exceeding the CO2 target by one gram (Article 13 paragraph 2 CO2 Act) and indicates this amount in Annex 5 to the CO2 Ordinance (Article 29 CO2 Ordinance).

The CO2 Regulation provides for the following penalty amounts per gram of CO2 target value exceeded:

  • Reference year 2020: 109.00 francs
  • Reference year 2021: CHF 103.50

Reference year 2021: 103.50 francsThe reference year is the calendar year for which compliance with the individual target is verified (Article 17a CO2 Ordinance).

If the target value is exceeded by 0.1 grams, the penalty amount for a full gram of CO2 becomes due.

CO2 BÖRSE AG: CO2 CONTROL SOLUTIONS FOR LARGE IMPORTERS

The fleets of large importers have a high volume of imported vehicles for which CO2 tax is payable on passenger cars or light commercial vehicles. CO2 Börse AG has therefore developed a new solution for large-scale importers for the CO2 levy on car imports in the form of so-called volume invoicing.

VOLUME BILLING FOR LARGE IMPORTERS: REDUCTION OF THE CO2 TAX

The legal basis for volume accounting at CO2 Börse AG is the possibility permitted by the CO2 Ordinance to assign the CO2 emission volumes of imported vehicles to other companies after they have been imported into Switzerland.
Large importers can book a CO2 volume quota for a specific calendar year with CO2 Börse AG.

The acquired quota enables large importers to cede the CO2 emission volume, especially of high-consumption vehicles, to CO2 Börse AG. This means the exclusion of high-emission imported vehicles from the vehicle fleet subject to the CO2 tax.

OPTIMISING CO2 EMISSIONS FROM CARS: PROCESSING AND MONITORING

Importers who opt for volume settlement with CO2 Börse AG receive online access to the CO2 Börse platform. With the help of their own calculation and monitoring tool, large importers can check their current remaining quota in real time.

CO2 Börse AG guarantees transparent processing and compliance with the highest standards of data security and discretion.

CO2 TARGETS FOR VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS

GENERAL PROCEDURE FOR THE DETERMINATION OF MANUFACTURER CO2 TARGET VALUES

Each vehicle manufacturer receives an individual CO2 target value for its vehicle fleet. Depending on the number of vehicles placed on the market by car manufacturers in the year preceding the reference year, the regulations of the CO2 Ordinance applicable to small importers or large importers apply mutatis mutandis to a given manufacturer (Article 21 CO2 Ordinance).

CO2 TARGET VALUE: BASED ON THE AVERAGE OF A MANUFACTURER’S FLEET, NOT ON AN INDIVIDUAL VEHICLE

The target values (95 g for cars from 2020 and 147 g for vans and articulated lorries up to a total weight of 3.5 tonnes) do not constitute a rigid upper limit applicable to each individual vehicle, but a target value that relates to the average of the total fleet of an individual manufacturer. Vehicle manufacturers are therefore allowed to sell high-performance cars with CO2 emissions above the target value if this excess is compensated for by other vehicles with lower CO2 values.

CO2 TARGET VALUE: BASED ON THE AVERAGE OF A MANUFACTURER’S FLEET, NOT ON AN INDIVIDUAL VEHICLE

The target values (for example 130 g CO2/km for PW 2019) do not constitute a rigid upper limit applicable to each individual vehicle, but a target value that relates to the average of the total fleet of an individual manufacturer. Vehicle manufacturers are therefore allowed to sell high-performance cars with CO2 emissions above the target value if this excess is compensated for by other vehicles with lower CO2 values.

CALCULATION OF INDIVIDUAL TARGETS FOR VEHICLE FLEETS

The individual targets for vehicle fleets are calculated according to the following formula:

A) PASSENGER CAR

Individual target (in CO2 grams/km) =

General target value (95 g/km) + 0.0333* x (average empty weight in reference year** – average empty weight in penultimate calendar year before reference year**) g CO2/km

B) LIGHT COMMERCIAL VEHICLES

Individual target (in CO2 grams/km) =

General target value (147g/km) + 0.096* x (average empty weight in the reference year** – average empty weight in the penultimate calendar year before the reference year**) g CO2/km

* Gradient on a legally defined finishing line

** of passenger cars or light commercial vehicles put into circulation for the first time

(Annex 4a Section 1 to the CO2 Ordinance).

The average unladen weight of vehicles put into circulation for the first time was

in 2019

  • for passenger cars 1,636 kilograms and
  • 2,067 kilograms for vans and light articulated trucks,

in 2018

  • for passenger cars 1,601 kilograms and
  • 2,058 kilograms for vans and light articulated trucks,

(Annex 4a Section 2 to the CO2 Ordinance).

If the unladen weight of the vehicles in a fleet is lower than the EU average (“reference mass”), then the manufacturer receives a CO2 target value below the target values of 95 g CO2/km (for passenger cars) or 147 g CO2/km (for light commercial vehicles) that have been in force since 2020.

CO2 LEVY ON CARS: SPECIAL TARGETS FOR SMALL AND NICHE MANUFACTURERS

Small and niche manufacturers can apply to the EU Commission for the setting of special CO2 targets (Article 28(2) CO2 Regulation).

  • Small manufacturers are vehicle manufacturers that produce less than 10,000 vehicles in the European Union in a calendar year.
  • Niche manufacturers produce between 10,000 and 300,000 vehicles in the European Union in a calendar year.

CO2 targets for small and niche manufacturers’ vehicles are set on the basis of vehicle weight and CO2 emissions. Niche manufacturers are allowed to propose a reduction target themselves, which has to be approved by the EU Commission.

Switzerland recognises the decisions taken by the EU Commission on the special targets of small and niche producers versus small importers and large importers.

  • With regard to those vehicles to which a special target applies, an importer is classified separately as a small importer or a large importer.
  • A large importer who wishes to charge the CO2 levy on cars from a small or niche manufacturer that have a special target must notify the Swiss Federal Office of Energy before the first of these vehicles is placed on the market in the respective reference year.

(Article 28(3) CO2 Regulation)

WHY WAS THE CO2 LEVY ON CARS INTRODUCED?

Since the beginning of industrialisation, the earth’s atmosphere has been warming up faster and faster. The climate change associated with the global rise in temperature is endangering the natural environment and the foundations of human life.

One of the greenhouse gases particularly responsible for global warming is carbon dioxide, which is released in large quantities when fuels and combustibles are burned.

Switzerland is disproportionately affected by climate change. While the average global annual temperature has risen by an average of 0.85 °C since measurements began in 1864, temperatures in Switzerland rose by 1.9 °C over the same period, i.e. more than twice as fast as the global average.

From 1990 to 2019, emissions of CO2 greenhouse gases from fuels and combustibles in Switzerland decreased by only 17 per cent, according to the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

For the transport sector, the FOEN even reported a long-term increase in CO2 emissions. According to the Federal Office, the increase in transport performance (kilometres driven) and the greater number of emission-intensive vehicles led to a 2.9 per cent increase in CO2 emissions from fuels between 1990 and the end of 2019.

It therefore appears uncertain whether Switzerland will sustainably achieve its CO2 reduction commitments with the measures taken so far alone.

Impact of the Corona pandemic on greenhouse gas emissions from road transport

However, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) assumed in May 2020 that the Corona-related lockdown measures would lead to at least a temporary reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from road traffic. He said that traffic volumes had fallen by 30 per cent on weekdays and by as much as 50 per cent at weekends, so that a reduction in CO2 emissions could be expected in 2020 if the pandemic lasted longer.

CLIMATE PROTECTION SWITZERLAND: CO2 LAW

KYOTO PROTOCOL 1997: THE STARTING POINT FOR SWITZERLAND’S CO2 LAW

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol specified a 15.8 per cent reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels for the period between 2013 and 2020.

CO2 LAW: IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERNATIONAL REQUIREMENTS

The “Federal Act on the Reduction of CO2 Emissions” (CO2 Act), the first version of which entered into force in May 2000, serves to implement the international commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. The revised version of the CO2 Act adopted by Parliament on 25 November 2020 will apply from 1 January 2021.

The CO2 Act provides for a 20 per cent reduction in Switzerland’s CO2 emissions by 2020 compared to 1990. For the year 2021, the CO2 Act sets the target of a further reduction of domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 per cent (Article 3 paragraphs 1 and 1bis).

PARIS AGREEMENT AND PLANNED REVISION OF THE CO2 ACT

According to the Paris Climate Agreement of December 2015, Switzerland is obliged to reduce its CO2 emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

In order to implement the requirements of the Paris Agreement on climate protection, a far-reaching revision of the CO2 Act is necessary. The new CO2 Act is currently in the legislative process.

Switzerland aims to achieve its emissions reduction target of 50 per cent compared to the baseline year 1990 as follows:

  • at least 30 per cent of total emissions (-11.9 million tonnes of CO2) by reducing their CO2 emissions domestically, and
  • a further maximum of 20 per cent of total emissions (-6.6 million tonnes of CO2) that are generated abroad but attributed to Switzerland (for example, due to purchases of foreign products in Switzerland whose production causes CO2 emissions abroad).

CO2 REGULATION

The CO2 Ordinance (“Verordnung über die Reduktion der CO2-Emissionen”) aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Switzerland. The regulation was issued on 30 November 2012 on the basis of the CO2 Act. The Federal Council last decided on 25 November 2020 to revise the CO2 Ordinance, which came into force on 1 January 2020.

The CO2 Ordinance regulates in particular

  • the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,
  • emission targets for the transport, buildings and industry sectors,
  • CO2 emission targets for imported, first-time registered passenger cars and light commercial vehicles,
  • the calculation of CO2 levies on passenger cars and light commercial vehicles if vehicle importers exceed the CO2 targets, and
  • an emissions trading system (trading in emission reduction certificates using an electronic emissions trading registry, EHR).

The version of the CO2 regulation that will apply from the beginning of 2020 takes into account in particular the additional 1.5 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 demanded by Parliament. The target values relevant for the measurement of CO2 emissions from vehicles for the years 2021 to 2024 were replaced by equivalent targets according to the new WLTP measurement procedure.

FROM THE NEW YORK UN CLIMATE CONVENTION 1992 TO THE REVISION OF THE SWISS CO2 LAW 2019

  • 1992: Adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in New York.
  • 1997: Conclusion of the Kyoto Protocol on climate protection.
  • 2000: Entry into force of the 1st version of Switzerland’s CO2 Act. Festlegung verbindlicher Ziele für die Reduzierung der CO2-Emissionen.
  • 2008: Introduction of a CO2 tax in Switzerland on the fossil fuels heating oil and natural gas.
  • 2012: Switzerland’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 compared to 1990.
  • July 2012: Switzerland: Introduction of CO2 emission targets for passenger cars registered for the first time. emissions target: 130 g/km.
  • November 2012: Switzerland: enactment of the CO2 Ordinance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • December 1015: Paris Agreement, successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
    • Goal: Limit global warming to well below 2 °C.
    • Switzerland’s commitment: halving CO2 emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.
  • 2018 / 2019: Legislative process for a revision of the Swiss CO2 Act. Goal: Adaptation to the 2030 climate targets of the Paris Agreement.
  • 2020: Reduction of target values and CO2 targets also on LNF
    • Passenger cars: Reduction of the CO2 target value to 95 grams/kilometre
    • Light commercial vehicles: new introduction of a CO2 target value of 147 grams/kilometre
  • 1 January 2021: Entry into force of revised versions of CO2 Act and CO2 Ordinance

CHANGEOVER TO THE NEW WLTP AND RDE TEST METHODS FOR MEASURING CONSUMPTION: IMPACT ON THE CO2 LEVY FOR CARS AS OF 2021

The new WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) test procedure, which replaces the NEDC (“New European Driving Cycle”) test cycle used since 1992, has been in force throughout Europe since September 2018 for measuring the consumption values and emissions of vehicles.

With the WLTP test bench test, more realistic exhaust gas and consumption measurements can be carried out. (The test results for consumption and emission values determined in the previous NEDC test procedure were mostly below the WLTP data).

In addition, the internationally used WLTP test procedure enables a worldwide vehicle comparison with regard to fuel consumption and emissions.

DATA DIFFERENCES BETWEEN REAL OPERATION AND CONSUMPTION MEASUREMENTS

The gap between real-world emissions and NEDC test results, which is stated to be 42 percent, is expected to be reduced to 20 percent under WLTP. The reason for the high difference between real-world operation and NEDC data, which has widened in recent years, is a wide variety of factors such as vehicle consumption, vehicle weight, air-conditioning and lighting systems not previously included in consumption, as well as NEDC-specific optimisations on the part of vehicle manufacturers.

FROM SEPTEMBER 2019 ADDITIONALLY: FREE-RANGE TEST PROCEDURE RDE

In addition, from 1 September 2019, the RDE (Real Driving Emissions) test procedure, which has already been used for the approval of new vehicle types since 1 September 2017, will apply to all new vehicles. With RDE, the emissions of vehicles are checked in practical driving operation, i.e. outside a test bench under defined test conditions on a specific route in the open air.

The free-road procedure RDE is applied in addition to the test bench procedure WLTP.

CO2 TARGET ACHIEVEMENT BY IMPORTERS: FROM 2021, STRICTER CO2 MEASUREMENT ACCORDING TO WLTP WILL BE DECISIVE

In a transitional phase until the end of 2020, consumption and emission values were measured according to both NEDC and WLTP.

  • Since the beginning of 2020, the consumption and emission values determined in the WLTP procedure must be shown on energy labels and in sales documents.
  • Until the end of 2020, the lower (compared to WLTP usually) NEDC CO2 test results were decisive for the verification of importers’ CO2 target achievement.
  • From 2021 onwards, the CO2 target achievement of importers will be verified on the basis of the generally stricter WLTP emission measurements.

As measurements were carried out in parallel according to NEDC and WLTP until 2020, importers were able to adjust in the longer term to the higher CO2 target attainment requirements under WLTP from 2021. Importers should, if necessary, initiate additional appropriate measures (for example with regard to the emission structure of their import fleet) to ensure sustainable compliance with their CO2 targets and to minimise the CO2 levies on light commercial vehicles and passenger cars.

CO2 LEVY ON CARS: OUTLOOK FOR THE YEARS 2020 AND 2021

For importers of vehicles registered in Switzerland for the first time, compliance with the CO2 target values is becoming increasingly important. Anyone who exceeds the emission values specified in the CO2 Ordinance is threatened with severe CO2 levies when importing cars.

The requirements for meeting the CO2 targets were tightened significantly at the beginning of 2020.
• The CO2 target value for passenger cars of 130 g/km, which has been in force since 2012, has been reduced to only 95 g/km.
• The new introduction of a target value for light commercial vehicles of 147 g CO2/km extended the CO2 regulations to a vehicle category that is particularly important for Switzerland.

On the other hand, the relief provided by law for large importers will be gradually reduced. If in 2021 the 10 percent with the highest emissions and in 2022 the 5 percent with the highest emissions of an import fleet are not taken into account when determining the CO2 target achievement of an importer, from 2023 onwards all vehicles – regardless of the level of their emissions – will be included in the calculation of the target achievement.

In addition, the calculation of emission values according to the test bench procedure NEDC, which has been used since 1992, expired at the end of 2020. From 2021, the CO2 emissions of vehicles will be determined according to the more realistic WLTP test cycle, which should lead to an approximately 20 to 25 percent higher emission value statement. The change in the test bench procedure alone is therefore associated with a major challenge for vehicle importers in terms of meeting their CO2 target values.

Special attention should therefore be paid to increasing the import share of electrically powered vehicles. The legislator rewarded importers with a double weighting of each e-vehicle when determining target achievement for the 2020 reference year. In future, this higher weighting of e-vehicles will be reduced to 1.67 times (2021) and 1.33 times (2022) before the favourable regulation expires from 2023.

In the future, too, it will be important to make full use of all available opportunities. Intelligent CO2 tax solutions such as the volume settlement for importers offered by CO2 Börse AG or the CO2 bonus offered by CO2 Börse AG for low-emission vehicles can noticeably reduce the burden of the CO2 tax on importers.
Furthermore, the legislator is called upon to create optimal framework conditions for a Switzerland that is as CO2-free as possible. A standardisation of Swiss support programmes for energy-efficient vehicles and increased investment in charging infrastructure would significantly support the achievement of Switzerland’s CO2 targets.

CO2 ABGABE FAQ

Questions and answers on the subject of the CO2 levy

The CO2 tax, which is levied on car imports, is a government steering instrument designed to help reduce CO2 emissions in Switzerland. If the CO2 target values are exceeded, importers are obliged to pay CO2 levies.

A CO2 tax is levied on certain imported cars,

  • which are admitted to Switzerland for the first time and
  • that have been registered abroad for a maximum of six months before being imported into Switzerland.

CO2 levies are only payable

  • for passenger cars that exceed the CO2 limit of 95 g/km set out in the CO2 Ordinance, and
  • for light commercial vehicles that have CO2 emissions of more than 147 g/km.

Whether a CO2 tax is payable depends on whether an imported vehicle exceeds the vehicle-specific CO2 target value or a vehicle fleet exceeds the individual target value. For 2020, a CO2 levy on passenger cars of CHF 109 is calculated per gram of target value exceeded, and CHF 103.50 for 2021.

You can find out the amount of CO2 tax due for a particular import vehicle with our CO2 tax calculator.

Car manufacturers that produce less than 300,000 vehicles per calendar year in Europe will receive a special CO2 tax target.

Special targets can be applied for by small producers and niche producers.

  • Small manufacturers are vehicle manufacturers that produce less than 10,000 vehicles in the European Union in a calendar year.
  • Niche manufacturers produce between 10,000 and 300,000 vehicles in the European Union in a calendar year.

Private and commercial car importers can secure an attractive CO2 bonusfrom CO2 Börse AG, with which we reward the import of particularly fuel-efficient vehicles. For multiple importers, the CO2 bonus effectively means a CO2 tax Switzerland refund.

As a commercial car dealer (small importer or large importer), please register on the online platform of CO2 Börse AGto receive the CO2 bonus according to our dealer tariff.

Simply send us form 13.20 A and the COC (EC Declaration of Conformity) to info@co2-boerse.ch. You will then receive all further information.

Here you can find more information on the handling of the CO2 tax.

The handling of the CO2 tax via CO2 Börse AG is free of charge for our customers.

CO2 Börse AG has been supporting companies and private individuals with car imports into Switzerland since 2012. So that we can also actively support your vehicle import, simply fill out the following online form. We will be happy to take care of your request quickly.

If you are a large importer importing cars into Switzerland, please use our contact form for large importers to receive a callback and specific information.

special contact form. We will be happy to take care of your request quickly.

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