Switzerland has traditionally been a major producer and exporter of encryption systems.
The Embassy of Switzerland in Washington responded in some detail on its cryptographic policies.This information was supplemented by further details from the Swiss government in Bern.
According to the Federal Law on Telecommunications (Loi fédérale du 21 juin 1991 sur les télécommunications, RS 784.10) and its implementing ordinances:
The ordinance concerning the Export, Import, and Transit of Dual-Use
Goods and Specific Military Goods from June 25 1997 does not
stipulate any licensing obligation for the import of products,
including cryptographic hardware and software.
The only rules applicable in this context are those relating to the Import Certificate (IC). The IC is one of the documents that may be necessary for the supplier to obtain an export license from the authorities in the country of origin. Therefore, it is up to the authorities of the country of origin to determine whether or not an IC is required from the country of destination in order to get a license.
Encryption equipment, software, and technology are controlled under the Ordinance concerning the Export, Import, and Transit of Dual-Use Goods and Specific Military Goods from June 25, 1997 and its annexes (the International Munitions Control List and the International Industrial Control List of the Wassenaar Arrangement are included in them). Those lists are reviewed annually. Switzerland adheres to the changes in the Wassenaar Dual-Use Control List announced in December 1998 but noted that “the upcoming minor changes to Switzerland's export controls on cryptographic goods as a result of the December changes to Wassenaar will not alter the liberal Swiss Cryptography Policy...Switzerland will keep its efficient export permit process for cryptographic goods in order to encourage Swiss exports to increase their sales and share worldwide while being mindful of national security interests.”
The export and re-export of cryptographic hardware, software, and technology listed in the above mentioned ordinance requires an individual validated license. However, exports to end-users in the countries which are members of all the four international export control regimes (23 countries in all) are granted under an ordinary general license (OGL). The Swiss Federal Office for Foreign Economic Affairs (FOFEA) is the licensing agency. The specific criteria considered in determining whether to grant a license are those of Wassenaar, namely “to prevent the acquisition of armaments and sensitive dual-use items for military end-uses if the situation in a region or the behavior of a State is, or becomes, a serious concern for the participating States.”
The transit is subject to a limited prohibition. If the country of origin restricts the export of the products listed in the annex (e.g., cryptographic products), their transit is forbidden if it cannot be proven (e.g., with a license) that the transfer to the country of destination is in accordance with the legislation of the country of origin. The law covers intangible exports of goods such as web-based transfers.
Export controls are overseen by the FOFEA. Restrictions on the
domestic use of cryptography on public telecommunications networks
are the responsibility of the FOC.