Taxation applicable to members of personnel of a permanent mission or an international organisation owning property on their own behalf in the canton of Geneva

With reference to article 34, b and f, of the Vienna Convention of 18 April 1961 on diplomatic relations, applicable by analogy by decision of the Federal Council to the permanent missions located in Geneva and their members of personnel, Heads of mission and diplomatic agents ("B" or "C" legitimation card) are not exempt from the various levies and taxes on private property located in Switzerland unless it is held on behalf of the accrediting State (sending state) for purposes of the mission. They are also not exempt from registration and court fees and from mortgage dues and stamp duties applicable to real estate.

Members of the senior management of international organisations as well as high ranking officials (holders of a "B" or "C" legitimation card) enjoy the privileges, immunities and facilities accorded to diplomatic officials in conformance with international law. It can be concluded from the above that they are not exempt from taxation, fees and duties applicable to privately owned real estate in Switzerland.

Other members of personnel of missions as well as other international civil servants (not benefiting from diplomatic status) are also subject to all taxes, fees and duties applicable to privately owned real estate within Switzerland.

The information given below on the taxes, fees and duties concerns the canton of Geneva. The situation is therefore similar in the other Swiss cantons.  The purchaser must contact the tax authority of their place of residence to get more information.

Taxes, fees and duties payable by the purchaser

  • Taxes on income tax and assets : a property is part of the assets of its owner, and also generates income. This income is therefore taxed at the federal, cantonal and local levels. A tax on assets is also applicable at the cantonal and local levels. Legal references: federal Law of 14 December 1990 (articles 15 and 21 par. 1 b) on direct federal taxation - Law of Geneva on the taxation of natural persons (LIPP-I - RSG D 3 11) Object of the tax - Subject to the taxation, of 22 September 2000 (article 16); Law of Geneva on the taxation of natural persons (LIPP-III - RSG D 3 13) Assets tax, of 22 September 2000 (article 2a); Law of Geneva on the taxation of natural persons (LIPP-IV - RSG D 3 14) Income tax (taxable income), of 22 September 2000 (article 7, par. 1b).
  • Supplementary property tax : the canton of Geneva also imposes a supplementary property tax which is a special tax of a real nature calculated on the basis of proportional rates on the value of properties located in Geneva. Legal reference: Law of the canton of Geneva of 9 November 1887 on public taxation (articles 76 and subsequent - RSG D 3 05).
  • Registration fees : the signing of a sales contract is subject to registration fees. It is a one-off tax, to be paid by the purchaser, at the rate of 3% of the selling price recorded in the deed. The signing of a sales contract involving a company and analogous contracts are subject to a registration fee of 1%. Legal reference: Law of Geneva on registration fees of 9 October 1969 (articles 33 and subsequent, articles 83 and subsequent - RSG D 3 30).
  • Fees for the Registry of property : the registry of property is a service of the cantonal administration, the purpose of which is to preserve documents and records of all kinds having to do with property rights. Changes in property ownership must be recorded in the Registry of property and are subject to a fee of 3 ‰ of the price recorded in the deed of sale. Legal reference: Regulations of Geneva of 7 September 1988 determining the amount of fees for the Registry of property.
  • Specific taxes on equipment.
  • Tax on profits and earnings made on real estate : this is a tax on the net profit resulting from the sale of properties or parts of properties located in the canton of Geneva, by persons who are not considered as professionals in the real estate business. The rate of the tax is based on the length of ownership of the property. Legal reference: Law of the canton of Geneva of 9 November 1887 on public taxation (article 80 and subsequent - RSG D 3 05).

The information contained herein is provided as a guide only.

Specialist Contact

Permanent Mission of Switzerland to UNOG
Office of Privileges & immunities
Rue de Varembé 9-11
P.O. Box 194
CH-1211 Geneva 20
Tel. +41 (0)58 482 24 24
Fax +41 (0)58 482 24 37