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A law called the Lex Friedrich has limited the purchase of real estate by foreigners in Switzerland since 1984. A government attempt to repeal it through a national referendum failed in the mid-1990s. The Swiss government has thus taken the halfway step of amending the 1984 law.

One of the amendments to the Lex Friedrich now allows foreign commercial businesses that wish to acquire property for their own commercial use to do so without applying for government authorization – except for companies only engaging in the sale of real estate. Foreign companies that purchase property and lease it to another party for commercial use do not need to apply to the government for approval.

Other amendments to the Lex Friedrich allow foreigners with a year-round residence permit to buy property for residence without government approval. Also, restrictions on the size of properties resident foreigners can buy have been dropped. The purchase of any real estate properties for vacation use by foreigners still requires government authorization. In general, non- resident foreign individuals cannot buy real estate in Switzerland, although this is changing. 2

Each of the cantons (regions) of Switzerland have the power to make its own laws, like states in the United States. It has previously been the national legal standard that foreigners could not sell real estate, especially vacation homes, to another foreigner. Now, some cantons close to the Swiss/French border have relaxed their laws on foreign property ownership. Non-resident foreigners can now buy one residential property per family and occupy it for up to 6 months a year. If they occupy it for over 6 months in a year, the family then becomes subject to Swiss income tax laws. Under these new laws, foreigners also must occupy their properties themselves for at least 3 weeks a year .3


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