Businessmen interested in investing in Switzerland are advised to request legal assistance and legal representation from our local lawyers, who can provide information on a wide range of matters that refer to the Swiss business climate. Our Swiss lawyers can help with legal advice on the steps involved in opening a Swiss business, and can also offer a wide range of services that can be used once the company is established in this country.
SIG Fiduciaire is a company that was set up with the purpose of offering legal services to local and foreign businessmen. The services offered by our in house lawyers can be used when opening a company in Switzerland, but investors can also request advice on the tax system applicable to corporate structures (tax planning services) or assistance on the accounting and bookkeeping regulations available here. No matter if you need a lawyer in Switzerland or an accountant, our team is at your disposal.
Regardless of the location where the company will activate in Switzerland, our in house lawyers can also provide audit services or company administration services. Foreign businessmen are also invited to request the assistance of our specialists when interested in obtaining a work permit in Switzerland. SIG Fiduciaire has several offices across the country and investors can easily get in touch with our offices, which are currently operating in Lugano, Zurich, Zug and Geneva.
SIG Fiduciaire (LawyersSwitzerland.com) is a part of several international organizations and, at the moment, we are proud of our long-standing collaborations with the following:
Bridgewest – a large network of lawyers and company formation specialists, who provide their services in numerous countries around the globe.
Hello Switzerland – an online platform dedicated to persons who want to relocate to Switzerland.
Moneyhouse – a company that was founded with the purpose of offering information that is gathered by the Swiss Commercial Register on any company operating in this country.
Why choose our law firm in Switzerland?
Our law firm in Switzerland offers a wide range of legal services, for both corporate and commercial legal matters. This is why we highly recommend you to contact our team of Swiss lawyers, who are prepared to provide their services in various areas of business law. Our lawyers can also represent foreign businessmen. Our lawyer in Switzerland can advise on the procedures ofsetting up a business in this country and can also assist investors on the main documents that have to be submitted with the local authorities.
Our experience is also confirmed by the stable relations with our clients in providing legal assistance and representation. We always try to develop long-term collaboration, materialized by successful results in any type of litigation case in Switzerland and also in the useful legal consultancy that empowered our clients’ position on the market.
However, due to the fact that we are exposed to continuous professional, economic and legal challenges, our law firm in Switzerlandseeks to develop and adapt its legal services to any type of modifications in order to be able to respond in a prompt manner to any demands of our current and future clients.
What is the procedure for opening companies in Switzerland?
Foreign businessmen who want to open a Swiss company should first verify the legislation regulating commercial matters in Switzerland. The steps required for starting a business are very much like the procedures applied in other European countries, but by working with us you will avoid all the legal haze. Our Swiss lawyers have an extensive expertise in this area and they are able to guide or represent you through all the phases involved, such as:
opening a bank account in which the investors will deposit the minimum share capital, as requested for the specific business form chosen for registration;
complete thenotary procedures, such as drafting the company’s articles of association or other statutory documents;
register the company with the Swiss Trade Registry and with other relevant institutions;
register for social security, once the company hired its first employees.
Clients can address to our Swiss law firm for the registration of any type of local company, including holding companies, which are legal entities established asjoint stock or limited liability structures. If you need a lawyer in Switzerland who can help you register your company, you can address to our lawyers.
What are the main business forms that can be set up in Switzerland?
Themain business form which is usuallyselected for incorporation by both local and foreign investors is represented by thelimited liability company, which can be set up asa public or private structure. Although they are similar when taking into consideration their characteristics, several differences appear regarding their capital, the minimum number of shareholders or thecompany’s business purposes. Other business forms available for registration in Switzerland are:
sole trader - the simplest business form available in Switzerland, which should be registered with the Commercial Register once the business has an annual income of CHF 100,000;
simple partnership - established through a contract of association set up by at least two partners;
general partnership - it can only be set up by natural persons and it is necessary to have minimum two partners in order to register this entity;
limited partnership - it can be set up by a partner (who has to be a natural person) who assumes unlimited liability and another partner (it can also be a legal entity) that has limited liability for the company’s debts;
branch office or subsidiary – they represent ways through which a foreign business can expand on the local market.
A lawyer in Switzerland can help you choose the most suitable legal entity for your business objectives.
Why purchase a Swiss company?
Another way of starting a business activity in Switzerland is by purchasing a company available for sale (ready-made company). This option is best suited when the investor wants to open his or her business activities as soon as possible, without having to go through all the registration steps.
The advantage of the Swiss ready-made company (also referred to as a shelf company) is that it has already been incorporated, without having any business activities. Thus, the main aspect that should be completed by the new owner is the transfer of ownership, by acquiring thecompany’s shares. Also, it is important to know that the objects of activity of the shelf company can be modified as per the needs of the business, a procedure which also applies to thecompany’s trading name.
Suchcompanies arealready registered for taxation purposes and social security, they benefit from an operational corporate bank account and, more importantly, they do not have any previous debts. The company has a registered office and, as a general rule, theready-made businessis set up as alimited liability company, which is the preferred option of the investors who want to set up a small and medium-sized business.
Tax advice in Switzerland
The experience and achievements accumulated by our lawyers in Switzerland over the years in the tax compliance field offer new clients the opportunity to start with a privileged place on the market, considering that our lawyers can offer step-to-step registration services; we can also represent our clients in accounting and tax procedures.
These range from local and national taxes, topayroll services,VAT registration and compliance,personal and corporate taxes, as well as other actions related to your company’s financial well-being. If you would like to find out how much you have topay as corporate tax, dividend tax and VAT in Switzerland, you can try our easy-to-use tax calculator. Clients who need accounting services in another European country can receive assistance from this professional team of accountants from Netherlands.
In Switzerland, the corporate tax used to vary greatly based on the canton in which the business was set up (ranging from rates of 12% to 24%), this being given by the fact that each canton has the legal right of imposing its own tax system. Currently, the corporate tax applicable at the level of the entire country no longer varies to the extent presented above, as a new tax reform was approved by the local institutions.
In May 2019, Switzerland organized a national referendum, which was passed in all the Swiss cantons, with regards to the implementation of the Federal Act on Tax Reform and which had, amongst other objectives, the reduction of the corporate tax rate in the cantons where the tax was imposed at a higher value, but also creating a unitary system.
The new tax law also addresses to the taxation of foreign companies and we invite foreign businessmen to address to our Swiss law firm for extensive information on this subject. When we refer to the current taxes applicable in Switzerland, the following are available:
starting with 1st of January 2020, the effective tax rates applied to businesses range between 12-14% in most of the Swiss cantons (calculated taking into consideration the federal tax, cantonal tax and the municipal tax);
the corporate income tax applied at a federal level stands at 8,5%;
companies in Switzerland are liable for the payment of the value added tax (VAT), charged at the standard rate of 7,7%;
specific types of goods (books, medicines, common consumer products and foodstuffs) are charged with a reduced rate of 2,5%.
It is our desire and mission to constantly adapt to our clients' requirements, and over time this led to the foundation and development of an internal procedures system, designed to ensure the continuity of the customer relationships and trade partnerships for our Swiss law firm.
The following video offers a short presentation on the services provided by our law firm in Switzerland:
How can our lawyers assist investors in debt collection in Switzerland?
Do you need a lawyer in Switzerland who will help you recover a debt? Our law firm gathers a team of lawyers, economists, mediators and professionals from other economic branches in order to offer you complete solutions whenever you get involved indebt collection. Our goal is to recover your debts in the fastest possible way and in optimum conditions, doing our best to preserve the relationship between creditor and debtor whenever possible.
Ourlawyersstudy each case individually and create a personalized and different approach to every debt recovery case, using all the legal means in each phase and action involved: legal advice in the amicable settlement, representation before the court,financial analysis, representation in the relation with bailiffs and with other competent authorities and even consultancy in all the post-trial actions. For clients concerned about international debt collection we highly recommend our partners from other European countries such as ourlaw firms in Poland.
LawyersSwitzerland.com is a part of Bridgewest, a European Formation Agent with partners all over the world. For help with local legal issues, clients can rely on our partners from different countries like company formation agents from Estonia.
What are the main rules of law concerning foreign investments in Switzerland?
Switzerland is a well-recognized country for thelevel offoreign investments concluded here, as the investors are drawn on the local market due to thepolitical and economic stability of this jurisdiction. Furthermore, investors choose Switzerland as an investment destination due to its legislation in the field, given by the Swiss Code of Obligations, the Securities Law and the Cartel Law.
Foreign investments in Switzerland are also regulated by the following, depending on the economic sector that is of interest for a businessman: the Swiss Federal Law on Acquisition of Real Estate by Persons Resident Abroad, the Telecommunications Act, the Nuclear Act, the Swiss Act on Radio and Television or the Swiss Federal Aviation Act.
As a general rule, Switzerland is a country open to foreign investments and only few restrictions can apply. In the case of specific economic sectors, state regulations will apply and this means that the investors, both local and foreign, will need to obtain a state license for developing a business activity in fields such as: the rail industry, the aviation sector, the shipping industry, the gambling sector and others.
Although there isn’t any statutory definition of what a foreign investor represents under the Swiss law, the Lex Koller (the Swiss Federal Law on Acquisition of Real Estate by Persons Resident Abroad) defines what a “person abroad” represents. Thus, “persons abroad” can refer to both foreign individuals and foreign companies that have their residence in a different country than Switzerland.
The term also takes into consideration Swiss based businesses which are controlled by foreign entities, which can be located in the European Union (EU) region, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) or outside these regions. However, it is worth knowing that the applicable legislation can provide different ways to invest in this country based on the country of residence of the foreigner; our team of Swiss lawyers can advise on any regulation that can apply in this case.
How can foreigners start a business in Switzerland?
The manner in which foreign businessmen can start a company in Switzerland is determined based on their nationality, as the Swiss law distinguishes between foreign entities from the EU and the EFTA regions and the ones that are from third party countries. In the case of EU and EFTA nationals, the procedure is much simpler compared to those who are outside these structures.
For example, in the case of non-EU and EFTA nationals, it is legally required to be the holder of a residence permit issued by the Swiss authorities or to bemarried to a Swiss national in order to start a business here. Besides these, foreigners from third party countries must also provide in-depth information on their future company, as well as on the ways in which the respective business activity will have a positive effect on the Swiss economy.
Considering that there are specific requirements that must be met by certain categories of foreigners, we highly recommend you to receive professional assistance from our lawyer in Switzerland, who can offer guidance on the procedure of obtaining a residence permit in this country, or to apply for various licenses and other authorizations.
Why request the services of a virtual office in Switzerland?
Our team of Swiss lawyers can also assist foreign businessmen in requesting theservices of a virtual office, which represents one of the most attractive options from a financial viewpoint of those who want to start a company. Basically, afterincorporating a company following the legal requirements imposed for the selected business form, the investors will have to conclude additional procedures, amongst which is registering a business address.
The virtual office comes as a suitable option regarding the company’s business address, as through this, the investors will not need torent an actual office and equip it in accordance with the needs of the company; instead, they can renta virtual office, which is a physical place for doing business that already provides all the tools and equipment for developing a business activity (an office, modern means of communication, internet, phone, e-mail services).
However, thevirtual office is recommended for small businesses which hire only a few employees and which can carry the business activities in a flexible manner (an example in this sense are companies that operate through the online environment, by offering various services); this is ideally suited for businessmen who do not need to work in a unitary team and who can use the virtual office for occasional meetings with theemployees, business partners, and clients.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the steps of business litigation cases in Switzerland?
Business litigation is usually handled by the Swiss Court of Civil Law or by the Arbitration Court. Each court imposes its own steps, therefore legal advice is required.
2. What are the most important legal aspects I should know about company formation in Switzerland?
It is quite simple to open a company in Switzerland considering foreign investors are subject to the same regulations established by the Commercial Code. You first need to select a type of company, choose a company name, have the Articles of Association drafted and then submitted with the Swiss Trade Register.
3. What are the basic legal requirements for foreign investors wanting to invest in Switzerland?
Special attention must be paid to the minimum share capital when opening a company in Switzerland. You need 20,000 CHF if you want to register a limited liability company and 100,000 CHF for a joint stock company.
4. Will I need special permits or licenses for my new company in Switzerland?
There are situations in which special licenses or permit are required. These depend on the business activity the company will undertake.
5. What is the procedure of debt collection in Switzerland?
Debt collection can be resolved amicable or by going to court. In the case of amicable proceedings the debtor and the creditors will reach an agreement. In court proceedings, the judge will hear both sides and verify all the evidence before making a decision.
6. Do I need a visa to enter Switzerland? How can I obtain it?
Foreign citizens from non-EU countries must apply for a visa when coming to Switzerland. Visa applications are submitted with the Swiss embassy or consulate in your home country.
7. What are the steps I must follow in order to obtain citizenship in Switzerland?
Swiss citizenship can be obtained by birth right, by marrying a Swiss national or by naturalization which is also the most common way. You need to live and work in Switzerland for 12 years before applying for a Swiss passport.
8. What are the requirements regarding employment in Switzerland?
Foreign citizens are required to obtain a Swiss work permit before coming to the country. For details about the application procedure you can ask our lawyers in Switzerland for help.
9. Are there any special requirements for marriage and/or divorce in Switzerland?
If you want to get married in Switzerland you must submit a request with the Registry Office five weeks before the ceremony. Divorce proceedings can be by mutual agreement or tried in a Civil Court of Law.
10. How are individuals and companies taxed in Switzerland?
Individuals are subject to the income tax which is calculated annually, while companies are subject to the corporate tax which is levied at federal and cantonal level.
For any question left unanswered after reading various materials published on our website, we invite you tocontact us via e-mail. We will make sure to promptly respond with the answer and a personalized quotation. Our lawyers can also assist in other legal matters, such as the procedures of obtaining a residence permit in Switzerland as a foreign investor or the intellectual property legislation, which is of high relevance for companies creating novelty products or services. To clients who need other types of legal services, for example immigration consultancy in the Netherlands, we recommend an experienced immigration lawyer in the Netherlands.
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Paul Gheorghiu has more than twenty years of experience in business matters and he can help you open a company in Switzerland as fast a possible. Call us at +41 41 266 0070 for any legal issue you may deal with in Switzerland.