Duty-Free Warehouse: Storage in Embrach, Zurich

Table of Contents

Duty-free storage of valuables in Switzerland offers many advantages

The duty-free warehouses of Switzerland are ideal for the storage of valuable precious metals or other high-priced goods. Valuables such as precious metals, works of art, valuables, antiques or spirits can be accommodated for any length of time without the need to pay customs duties. Payments such as sales tax and customs duties are due only when items are actually imported.
When storing goods in a bonded warehouse, all stocks and goods movements are controlled directly by the officers of the Swiss customs authority as part of the Federal Customs Administration (FCA). Customers can bring their duty-free goods from abroad and have them stored indefinitely. Rental spaces of different types and sizes are available. In addition, the re-export of stored items to third countries is possible at any time. On request, any goods stored in a Swiss bonded warehouse can be picked and repackaged whilst they remain within the transit warehouse concerned. In addition, goods and quality controls – as well as functional tests of machines and equipment – can be commissioned.

Security in a duty-free warehouse

All goods are stored in high-security sectors where the high-quality facilities more than meet the most demanding of current standards. The high-security facilities at the Embrach duty-free warehouse were completely rebuilt in 2020/2021 as part of a modernisation programme, and thus meet all the latest security requirements. In addition, all valuables are fully insured via our own insurers. Goods are securely stored in accordance with the strictest high-security protocols and thus well protected at all times.

Building Z of the Embraport duty-free warehouse in Embrach, one of several bonded warehouses in Switzerland.
One of the various buildings in the Embraport bonded warehouse in Embrach.
© Swiss Gold Safe AG

Buying precious metals VAT-free via a duty-free warehouse

A duty-free warehouse (ZFL) is a particularly interesting option for investors looking to purchase holdings in silver, platinum or palladium. Unlike gold transactions, the purchase of white metals is subject to VAT. However, no VAT is payable while these white metals are stored in a duty-free warehouse. Precious metals can be stored as bars, coins, coin bars, granules or in other formats. However, silver in granulate form is usually considered an industrial metal, and used, for example, in jewellery making. Therefore, it is not generally regarded as a classic investment product.

Private investors generally prefer 1 kilogram silver bars, but five-kilo bars are also popular, and those who wish to invest in larger units may prefer to look at bars weighing 15 kilograms. In addition, private investors also like to store silver coins in the popular trading size of one troy ounce (31.1034768 grams). For example, popular coins such as the Australian Kangaroo, Silver Krugerrand, Silver Maple Leaf, or Silver Vienna Philharmonic are all suitable for storage in a duty-free warehouse. From an investor’s point of view, the demand is mainly for coin tubes holding 20/25 coins, or master boxes of 500 for larger quantities.

Prices for storage in a duty-free warehouse

Here you will find a table listing storage prices for the Swiss Gold Safe duty-free warehouse in Embrach

Ø stored value in Mio CHF Gold / Platinum p.a. Silver / Palladium p.a.
0.1 – 1.0
0.75 %
1.00 %
1.0 – 5.0
0.65 %
0.90 %
5.0 – 10.0
0.50 %
0.80 %
> 10.0
on request
on request

We accept payments in Swiss Francs, Euros, US-Dollars as well as Bitcoin and Ether.
We remain at your disposal for further info, individual inquiries and questions via our contact form.

Storing gold in a duty-free warehouse

In addition to white metals, gold investment products can also be stored in a duty-free warehouse. However, since the purchase of investment gold is generally exempt from VAT, the advantage of saving on VAT does not really apply to gold storage. It would only make sense if the gold were stored alongside silver, platinum or palladium, and if these precious metals were also combined as one deposit.

In principle, however, there is one particular disadvantage of storing gold in a duty-free warehouse – customs officials will register details of the owner, as well as the type and quantity of stored products. So investors who value their privacy should consider storing their gold assets in a privately run domestic storage facility instead. Swiss Gold Safe always provides individually allocated and segregated storage of precious metals: All coins or bars originally delivered to the warehouse are clearly identified – for example, via bar numbers, sealed containers, numbered pallets, or in individual vaults, and the client retains full title to the goods at all times.

Disclosure of details of ownership to the Swiss customs

When storing valuables in a duty-free warehouse, there are a number of things to be observed with regard to personal information concerning the ownership of goods. For example, Swiss customs consider precious metals such as coins or bars to be what they would term “sensitive goods”. This means when such goods are kept in individual storage, the warehouse company must maintain inventory records which track the movement of the goods. These records must include the name and address of the owner, and the customs authorities use these documents to check that all duty-free warehouse processing is being properly implemented.

However, this does not mean that the Swiss Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS), or the storage company, will forward this ownership data on to other authorities. Personal information is subject to data protection both at home and abroad and thus is only recorded for the purposes of clear assignment. And where the storage involves collective custody, none of the aforementioned requirements apply. In this case, the customs authorities only need to know the name of the storage provider.

The same rules apply in the Principality of Liechtenstein, which is also part of the Swiss customs territory. This ownership data is then reported to the Swiss Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS). Although Liechtenstein belongs to the European Economic Area (EEA), it remains part of the Swiss customs area. Switzerland and Liechtenstein thus form a common customs union – this is due to the country’s decision to move closer to independent Switzerland after the end of the Second World War. And as a sister nation, Liechtenstein also recognises the Swiss franc as its national currency.

Interesting facts about Switzerland’s import and export of gold

The Swiss customs import/export statistics include gold, and are thus an important parameter for the gold industry. Analysts and journalists also tend to keep a very close eye on these metrics. However, gold that is taken directly to a duty-free warehouse, or exported from there, is not included in these same import and export statistics. That means these statistics do not include at least part of the total amount of gold actually stored in Switzerland.

In foreign trade terms, Switzerland is considered the world’s principal gold-trading nation. The country’s gold imports and exports amount to 1,000 to 2,000 tons of per annum. Switzerland’s importance is partly due to the presence of major local refineries who engage in high-capacity gold processing. In addition, Switzerland enjoys an unrivalled international reputation among investors as a safe and discreet storage location for gold investment products.

The Geographical Location of the Duty-Free Warehouses at Embrach and Its Importance

There are a total of seven duty-free warehouses in Switzerland. With an area of around 150,000 square meters, the duty free warehouse site in Embrach, founded in 1923, is one of the largest in the country. Embraport is located in the canton of Zurich. Conveniently connected to the rail and road network, the site is only about eight kilometres north of Zurich Airport, too. The nearby motorway connections of both the A51 Bülach, Kloten / Zurich Airport and the A1 Winterthur-Wülflingen are in strategic proximity. From the airport or from the city of Zurich, the duty-free warehouse facilities of Embraport can also be easily reached by public transport.

Switzerland enjoys a good international reputation. Its political and economic stability, as well as its currency security, make the country an attractive one to companies and private investors. Switzerland is the world’s number one precious metal trading hub, offering clients many tax benefits plus reliable discretion at all times. The traditional protection of property rights is rooted in the country’s history. Switzerland’s location in the heart of Europe is another important advantage.

In addition to duty-free warehouses (ZFL), there are also so-called open customs warehouses (OZL) in Switzerland. These are suitable for accommodating a wide variety of goods, as well. The main difference to ZFLs is that they are privately managed open warehouses. In the OZL open customs warehouse, a security must be deposited with customs by the warehouse company. This is not required for storage in a bonded warehouse, which is why the storage costs are lower.

The transportation of goods and the purchase of silver exempt from sales tax

Swiss Gold Safe organises the conveyance of your goods from Switzerland and abroad to the duty-free storage facilities in Zürich. We are supported by renowned high-value logistics partners around the world. Our specially trained employees prepare all the necessary transit documents and commercial invoices that are required for crossing international borders for the shipment. In addition, we will take care of the termination of services provided by your previous warehouse if necessary. Thus, we assist our customers fully throughout the entire transport process.

The purchase and sale of white precious metals without sales tax is possible through our partner and broker Echtgeld AG, a business that delivers directly to the warehouse.

For questions about duty-free warehouses or high-value shipments – as well as any further information – please contact us.

The advantages of a duty-free warehouse (ZFL) in summary:

Duty-free warehouse FAQs:

A duty-free warehouse is a storage location where goods and assets of all kinds can be temporarily stored free of VAT and customs duties. Thus, it is particularly suitable for storing silver and other white metals, which remain entirely VAT-free during the storage period.

There are a total of seven duty-free warehouses in Switzerland. The largest is situated in Embrach, in the canton of Zurich. There are other duty-free warehouses at Basel and Geneva, for example.

For private clients, Swiss Gold Safe only offers storage in a duty-free warehouse, which private investors will find is also a comparatively less-expensive option. Open customs warehouses (OCW) are more suitable for large investors or commercial and institutional clients.

Yes, citizens from all countries are free to use Switzerland’s duty-free warehouse storage services.

In contrast to other service providers, Swiss Gold Safe offers individual custody of your precious metals. These will be identified by bar and seal numbers, an arrangement which ensures that, as a client, you will always retain full ownership of your property.

Unfortunately, and primarily for logistical reasons, it is not possible to operate a safe deposit box facility inside a duty-free warehouse.

In the case of individual custody, ownership data is reported exclusively to the Swiss customs authorities. After this, no further data is passed on to other domestic or foreign authorities. This requirement applies equally to bonded warehouses in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. This regulation does not apply to collective custody.

No. Liechtenstein is part of the Swiss customs zone. This means the same ownership data is collected in both countries, and reported to the Swiss customs authorities.