Despite limited severe enforcement, Brexit will strengthen Swiss Lex Kollar regime for British citizens

In the message

With the entry into force of Brexit on 31 December 2020, British citizens will not benefit from the preferential treatment of EU citizens when purchasing Swiss residential property. UK citizens now require Swiss residence permission to purchase Swiss residential property without a permit. However, grandfathers apply: British citizens who are legally and effectively residing in Switzerland before 1 January 2021 are exempted from this restriction, provided they keep their legal and effective residence in Switzerland. All Swiss residential real estate legally acquired by UK citizens before 1 January 2021 will remain the same.


  1. Option for UK citizens to purchase Swiss residential real estate from 1 January 2021
  2. Other exceptions
  3. The background

Option for UK citizens to purchase Swiss residential real estate from 1 January 2021

Citizens of the United Kingdom who are not legally resident in Switzerland until 1 January 2021:

  • An unlimited residence permit is required to purchase a Swiss residential property.
  • Before obtaining a Swiss residence permit, vacation homes can be purchased in some cantons, provided that a fixed permit is available, as well as a private residence at the legal and actual residence in Switzerland.

UK citizens legally residing in Switzerland on 1 January 2021:

  • These are British citizen ancestors and are permitted to purchase Swiss residential property without permission.
  • However, it is imperative that these British citizens preserve their legal and actual residence in Switzerland at least until they acquire Swiss residential property in the future. Dada dies after 1 January 2021 from Switzerland canceling the registration or change of actual place of residence.
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Other exceptions

Swiss Property Ownership Before Brexit

UK citizens who purchase Swiss residential property legally before 1 January 2021 have the right to own that property. Great Britain’s exit from the European Union has no effect on the legal status for residential real estate in Switzerland.

Passengers across borders before Brexit

UK citizens crossing the border into Switzerland on 1 January 2021 and later retaining this status will retain their post-Brexit status for the purchase of Swiss residential property. You benefit from the exception of the Lex Caller Act, which enables cross-border travelers to purchase a second home in Switzerland at their workplace.

The background

Switzerland’s so-called “LexColor Rules” forbade foreign ownership of Swiss real estate unless the foreign buyer is permitted to do so. Since commercial real estate is excluded from the Lex Caller Act, its main application is in Swiss residential real estate.

Thanks to bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the European Union, the Lex Kollar rule exempts EU foreigners from permit requirements as soon as they are legally and effectively domiciled in Switzerland. Foreigners from countries outside the European Union do not benefit from this exemption and therefore require Swiss residence permission to be able to obtain Swiss real estate without a permit.

Buy Swiss residential property with very limited permits and permits are limited in their application. Some (tourist) cantons have an approval quota that enables them to purchase holiday homes that they use on their own.

With Britain leaving the European Union, the United Kingdom has become a country outside the European Union. According to the international treaty concluded between Switzerland and the United Kingdom on 25 February 2019 and approved by the Swiss Parliament on 25 September 2020, the transfer of Swiss real estate is regulated as follows:

  • A British citizen real estate acquired in Switzerland before January 1, 2021 will not be affected by Brexit.
  • On January 1, 2021, every British citizen who has his legal and actual residence in Switzerland can purchase Swiss residential real estate without permission, provided he retains his legal and actual residence until the acquisition of Swiss real estate.
  • On 1 January 2021, every British citizen with Swiss travel status who maintains this status can avail of the exemption under the Lex Caller Act and obtain a second home in their work area in Switzerland.
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Approval of the Swiss-British Treaty is still subject to an alternative referendum, which is highly unlikely. If no referendum was held by January 14, 2021, the Swiss-British treaty would officially come into force on March 1, 2021. Meanwhile, the Swiss-British treaty has been formally implemented from 1 January 2021.

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About the Author: Forrest Morton

Organizer. Zombie aficionado. Wannabe reader. Passionate writer. Twitter lover. Music scholar. Web expert.

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