Animals, plants, fruits or vegetables that you bring back with you from a trip can endanger health.

Animals, plants, fruits or vegetables that you bring back with you from a trip can cause damage to agriculture.

Animals, plants, fruits or vegetables that you bring back with you from a trip can harm the environment.

Why can imported
plants and animals
be problematic?

There are plants, animals and other organisms that do not occur naturally in Switzerland but which have been introduced by humans. Many plants and animals brought here in the past have integrated into the ecosystem without apparent negative effects (for example the mandarin duck or the Persian speedwell with its blue-purple flowers).

However, some imported plants and animals can become a problem: they can cause health problems for humans and animals, cause economic damage such as crop losses or endanger biodiversity.

Imported plants and animals can cause problems such as these:

Red-eared slider

This North American turtle came to Switzerland in large numbers via the pet trade. Many were released illegally into Swiss waters after their owners tired of them. Red-eared sliders can live for up to 40 years and grow to 30 cm in length. Among other things, they feed on amphibian spawn and insect larvae, thereby endangering rare indigenous wildlife.

Poison ivy

Poison ivy originates in North America. Even just brushing against this inconspicuous shrub can have consequences – from a mild rash through to severe burns. There are up to 50 million cases a year in the United States, making poison ivy the most dangerous plant in North America. In Europe only a few isolated occurrences in France, Italy and Germany have been recorded.

Xylella fastidiosa

This bacterium is one of the most dangerous plant pathogens. It affects over 350 plant species including many crops and ornamental plants such as cherry, vine, oleander and lavender. The plants then die off. Xylella has already done considerable damage in Italy, France and Spain. (Photo: olive trees in southern Italy.) In Switzerland, it was discovered on coffee plants from Central America in 2015, but luckily the bacterium has not yet established itself in this country.

How do these plants and animals reach us?

Plants and animals can come into Switzerland in many ways, for example, travellers bringing them home deliberately as souvenirs or importing them accidentally (as seeds in their luggage). Any imported plant or animal could potentially be an invasive species with serious consequences for the environment, health and the economy.

A plant in luggage: a risky souvenir

Cute abroad, dangerous at home

What can I do?

There are two simple rules:

  • Don’t bring any plants or animals home with you. This way you are protecting native species and your well-being.
  • If you do want to import a plant or animal, be on the safe side: find out about the plants and animals before you go and have them checked by the appropriate authorities when you get back

Strict legal regulations have been in force since 1 January 2020. The import of plants, fruits, vegetables, cut flowers and seeds from countries outside the EU is prohibited. Animals must always be checked by the border veterinary service. Please also observe the regulations for the protection of endangered animal and plant species abroad!

 

Download:
Download and print this information as a flyer.(PDF)

Where can I find more information?

Detailed information about imported plants and animals and related topics can be found at the links below.

Detailed information on the impact of imported plants and animals (in German, French or Italian)
(Federal Office for the Environment FOEN)

More information about the import rules for animals
(Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office FSVO)

More information about the import rules for plants
(Swiss Federal Plant Protection Service SPPS)

Endangered species – be careful when importing souvenirs
(Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office FSVO)

Information on imported animal and plant species and their distribution in Switzerland (in German or French)
(InfoSpecies – Swiss Information Centre for Species)

Bringing plants and animals into Switzerland
(ch.ch – The Swiss authorities online)