Since 1 January 2008, real estate acquisition by institutional beneficiaries – which includes diplomatic missions and consular posts headed by a career consular officer – has been governed by:
- Section 3 of the Federal Act on the Privileges, Immunities and Facilities and the Financial Subsidies granted by Switzerland as a Host State (Host State Act, HSA) and
- Section 5 of the Ordinance to the Federal Act on the Privileges, Immunities and Facilities and the Financial Subsidies granted by Switzerland as a Host State (Host State Ordinance, HSO).
Host State Act (HSA)
Host State Ordinance (HSO)
The FDFA's Directorate of International Law (DIL) is responsible for issuing decisions on the acquisition of land and buildings by institutional beneficiaries. To this end, the DIL consults the canton in question to verify whether the buyer constitutes an institutional beneficiary and whether the proposed acquisition is for official purposes. The requested property must also reflect actual needs and factor in all assets previously acquired by the institutional beneficiary. In addition, all required authorisations from the competent authorities – particularly safety and building permits – must be available.
The acquisition of land and buildings means any acquisition of a title to a building, land, a right of habitation or a usufruct over property, or the acquisition of any other rights which confer upon their holder equivalent status to that of owner, such as a long-term lease with non-standard terms.
If there is a change in use, this is deemed an acquisition and therefore also requires permission from the FDFA. Land and buildings for official purposes are defined as buildings or parts of buildings together with the curtilage thereof used for the purpose of carrying out the official activities of the institutional beneficiary.
Sending states must address all acquisition requests to the FDFA (Directorate of International Law, Federal Palace North Wing, Kochergasse 10, 3003 Bern) including a copy to the competent cantonal authority (for example in Bern to: Beco Berner Wirtschaft, Marktaufsicht, Laupenstrasse 22, 3011 Bern).