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  • Writer's pictureLuis Figueiredo

Regulations of Swiss Cosmetics

Updated: Apr 2

Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), but has not signed the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement. However, trade between Switzerland and the European Union (EU) is strengthened by various agreements, including the Cassis de Dijon Principle.


Regulations of Swiss Cosmetics


In Switzerland, the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (Office fédéral de la sécurité alimentaire et des affaires vétérinaires - OSAV) is the authority responsible for regulating cosmetic products. Such products are classified as Utility Articles.


The legislation on cosmetic products in force in Switzerland includes:

  • Federal Act on Foodstuffs and Utility Articles (SR 817.0) (2014);

  • Ordinance on Foodstuffs and Utility Articles (ODAlOUs, RS 817.02) (2016);

  • Ordinance of the DFI (Federal Department of the Interior) on cosmetics  (OCos, RS 817.023.31) (2016).

Although these laws establish requirements that are very similar to those regulated in the EU, there are certain discrepancies. However, for products already commercialised in the EU, Switzerland autonomously applies the Cassis de Dijon Principle.


The Federal Law on Technical Barriers to Trade (LETC) and the Ordinance concerning the marketing of products manufactured in accordance with foreign technical regulations (OPPEtr) are the legal bases for the application of this principle in Switzerland.


The Cassis de Dijon Principle aims to facilitate the placement on the Swiss market of products legally placed on the EU and/or EEA market that fulfil the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009. Therefore, if a product meets these criteria, it may in principle be placed on the Swiss market without any further controls. Derogations to this principle are only permitted if there are overriding public interests, for example for reasons related to protecting life and the health of people, animals and plants.


Consequently, cosmetic products placed on the Swiss market based on the Cassis de Dijon Principle have to fulfil the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009. However, some additional requirements must be met:



Volatile organic compounds (VOCs):


According to the Ordinance on the incentive tax on volatile organic compounds (OCOV, SR 814.018), in order to reduce VOCs emissions, a tax is charged to importers, manufacturers and distributors of VOCs or products containing them. The tax rate, imposed at the time of the import into Switzerland, is equivalent to 3 Swiss francs per kilogram (Kg) of VOCs. However, products whose content does not exceed 3% or products not included on the positive list are not subject to the tax.



Furocoumarins:


Following the Ordinance of the DFI on cosmetics (OCos, RS 817.023.31), entry 358 of Annex II of Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 is replaced by the following " Furocoumarines, including trioxysalen (INN), 8-methoxypsoralen and 5-methoxypsoralen, except for normal content in natural essences used. In cosmetic products, with the exception of perfumes, eau de toilette and eau de Cologne, the furocoumarin content in the final product must be less than 1 mg/ kg and the natural essences must be dosed appropriately when the cosmetic product, used under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use, - a. remains on the skin, and - b. can be exposed to direct sunlight."



Labelling:


Regarding language requirements, according to Article 16e, paragraph 2 of the LETC, warning and safety notices, including the instructions on cosmetic products relevant to personal safety, must be written in the official language or languages of the place where the products are placed on the market, except for the list of ingredients, which follows Article 33 of Regulation (EC) 1223/2009. It should be noted that Switzerland has 4 official languages, namely German, French, Italian and Romansh.



Documentation


The Swiss cantonal authorities, in the absence of an agreement with the EU, have no right of access to the European Notification Database (Cosmetic Product Notification Portal, CPNP). For legality to be verified, the data required under the EU Regulation must be submitted (e.g. proof of the preparation of the PIF, notification number, etc.).


Supervision and control of cosmetic products


Cantonal laboratories in Switzerland are responsible for inspecting cosmetic products, carrying out controls by random sampling or in response to denunciations, in order to verify the compliance of these products.



Responsibilities of the Importer, Manufacturer and Distributor


In the Swiss market, both the manufacturer and the importer are responsible for the conformity of cosmetic products. Alternatively, they can designate a Swiss agent to assume this obligation. The distributor must also ensure that the cosmetic products fulfil the legal requirements.


When necessary, the importer or manufacturer must provide proof that a PIF on the product is already established on the EU and/or EEA market, without the need to submit the PIF to the authorities.



Customs


Cosmetics in Switzerland have a VAT of 8.1% and are duty-free.

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