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Buying a knife online: Which weapons are banned in Switzerland?

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Flick knife, folding knife, butterfly knife: Today all kinds of knives and other weapons are offered for sale on the internet  and they can be ordered at a knockdown price with just a few clicks. But anyone buying a knife this way often receives a summons from the prosecuting authorities rather than the goods they ordered.

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    Cyril Senn

    Cyril Senn is a legal expert with AXA-ARAG with a keen interest in everything to do with criminal and traffic law.

Illegal importing of weapons

This is because many knives sold in online shops such as the Chinese provider AliExpress are banned in Switzerland. If the customs authorities find a package containing an illegal weapon, it will be reported to the prosecuting authorities of the canton in which the recipient lives and they will receive a penal order. The charge: Violation of the Weapons Act

Many young buyers

The number of butterfly knives, knuckledusters, spikes and other illegal weapons seized by Swiss customs authorities has risen sharply in the last few years. The  banned and ridiculously cheap weapons are very popular with young men in particular: A flick knife for three Swiss francs  – for many teenagers, curiosity and fascination override caution and reason. 

Fine or imprisonment

Anyone buying and importing illegal knives and weapons risks imprisonment of up to three years or a fine. This offense always carries a criminal record which remains in place for at least two years. 

You should therefore be well informed before buying a knife, judges are unforgiving on this issue. In a ruling in January 2019, the Federal Supreme Court sentenced the buyer of a folding knife that can be opened using one hand to a conditional fine and a penalty. For young people, the proceedings are handled by the juvenile courts:  the penalties range from a written warning (reprimand) to several months' imprisonment. 

In criminal law, ignorance of the law is no defense.

Cyril Senn, criminal law expert at AXA-ARAG

Violation of the Weapons Act

Under the Swiss Weapons Act , knives are banned if the blade can be extended with an automatic mechanism using one hand. The following are also banned:

  • Butterfly knives
  • Folding knives
  • Daggers with symmetrical blades
  • Throwing knives

Due to the strict penalties, I recommend consulting the documentation of the Federal Office of Police (fedpol) before buying a knife, either from a Swiss shop or online.

Cyril Senn, criminal law expert at AXA-ARAG

Help when buying a knife

The state recognizes that in many cases, it is difficult to determine whether the knife being bought is illegal or not. On its website , the Federal Office for Police (Fedpol) therefore provides excellent documentation and a helpful decision-making tool for Swiss lovers of all kinds of knives.

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