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FAQ

Below you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions on founding companies in Switzerland, the legal issues involved as well as some general information.

Haven’t found the answer you’re looking for? Give us a call on 0800 550 000 or write to us using our contact form.

How much does it cost to set up a company with STARTUPS.CH?

You can benefit from our free start-up service no matter which legal form your company takes, the Swiss canton you choose and the STARTUPS.CH partners that are selected and finalised. Calculate your own non-binding offer after a few short clicks online at: https://secure.startups.ch/en.

 

How long does it take to found a company?

Setting up a company with STARTUPS.CH is straightforward, simple and quick. Take a look at the following overview to get an idea of the time it takes to found a company with and without the help of STARTUPS.CH.

Steps

Duration without STARTUPS.CH

Duration with STARTUPS.CH

1. Choice of the correct legal form

1–3 days

15–60 minutes in the form of a consultation

2. Implementation/Drafting of Documents

7-14 days

24 hours at the most (on workdays)

3. Letter of deposit of the deposited share capital

4-7 days

3-5 days

4. Notarization of the foundational documents

3-7 days

1-3 days

5. Entry into the commcercial register and verification of the certificate of registration

14-42 days

Average of 12 days

 

How does the personal consultation work?

You can arrange a consultation meeting at one of our locations using the online contact request or by telephone: 0800 550 000.

It takes around an hour and is included in the founding costs (only for Business and Premium packages). If you decide not to found your company following the meeting, the cost will be 150 CHF. However, if you decide to do so, you will be given a voucher for the same value, which you can have deducted from the founding costs when STARTUPS.CH later sets up your company (only for Business and Premium packages).

The meeting will focus on your individual questions and you do not have to bring along any specific documentation.

 

I want to start my own business, what do I do next?

Mandatory: If you make (side occupation) profit of more than 2,300 CHF annually, or (main occupation) profit of 9,400 CHF annually, you must register at the cantonal compensation office. The income must be declared on personal tax returns. If annual turnover exceeds 100,000 CHF, the company must be entered onto the commercial register and it will be subject to VAT (MwSt). You can also voluntarily enter the company onto the commercial register and for VAT if annual turnover is lower.

Arrange a personal and non-binding consultation today in your area. You will be given detailed information on the exact approach and next steps concerning your self-employment during the consultation meeting.

 

How do I approach setting up a company?

You can put together how to found your company online via our homepage or as part of a consultation meeting with one of our advisers.

  • To get started you can calculate your own free and non-binding offer.
  • Then all you need to do is accept the offer and create a personal user login.
  • The next step will give you the option of entering all the firm details online (Name, address, people) and this step finishes of by sending your definitive founding request to us. A lawyer from STARTUPS.CH will contact you within 24 hours (or the next working day) by telephone to discuss setting up your company.

The whole company founding process is described here in detail.

 

When can I withdraw from my pension fund to use as capital for my start-up?

This is only possible when founding a partnership (sole proprietorship/enterprise, general partnership, etc.) and if you have also been recognized by the cantonal compensation office as a self-employed person. In addition, the self-employed activities must be your main occupation. You have no entitlement to withdraw from your pension fund when setting up a GmbH or an AG (Ltd and PLC).

For more details, see our website.

 

Do I have to inform my employer about my intention to found my own company?

It depends. If your employment contract stipulates that you have an obligation to inform your employer of a side occupation, you must receive consent from your employer. This is usually granted if your side occupation would not be in competition with your employer and if your performance at work would not be negatively affected.

 

What do I need to be aware of when converting the legal form?

Can I change a sole enterprise into a GmbH or a GmbH into an AG at a later point and at what point would this be a good idea?

The conversion process should replace the former legal form with one that it is more suitable. Companies can change their legal status in accordance with the merger act (FusG). The law, art. 54 FusG, conclusively identifies the permissible conversions.

A sole enterprise/proprietorship cannot be directly converted to a GmbH or an AG but must first be liquidated in order to subsequently transfer the assets and liabilities to the newly established company (see Check List for Changing a Sole Proprietorship). It is also important to select the optimum point in time for the conversion process.

 

At what point after founding does VAT need to be settled?

First of all, it should be determined whether the obligation to pay VAT even applies. There are tax-exempt activities (e.g. providing services abroad) and VAT-exempt activities (e.g. medical or cultural services).  The obligation to pay VAT only starts once a turnover of 100,000 CHF is achieved in Switzerland, meaning that the company should be registered with the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (ESTV) and a VAT number should be obtained upon founding. However, you can voluntarily become subject for turnover below 100,000 CHF.

If an existing company expands its business and foresees that they will exceed the turnover limit, it also becomes tax-liable and should report to the ESTV. Therefore, a projection should be made after three months. If projected turnover exceeds the 100,000 CHF limit, the company must report to the ESTV.

If the limit is not reached until some time has passed since founding the company, the company must report to the ESTV by the 1st of January the following year about the extent to which the limit has been exceeded.

 

What criteria apply when choosing the company name?

You are generally free to choose your company’s name. However, there are certain barriers that must be considered. The name should not deceive people as to the company’s purpose and the company name may not be descriptive.

 

Deceptive company name

For example, ‘Rudolf Steel Trading AG’ would not be permitted if the company is not involved in the steel trade but rather manages the rental properties of Mrs Rudolf.

 

Descriptive company names

The following examples would not be permitted: ‘Cars AG’, ‘Trading GmbH’ or ‘Painting AG’. Only company names which are expanded upon with further elements that make them individual would be allowed: ‘H. Meier Cars AG’, ‘MiDio Trading GmbH’, ‘Painting 2000 AG’, ‘TATA Transport AG’, ‘Weinfelden Storage AG’.

 

With a sole proprietorship, the surname is mandatory

With a sole proprietorship, the surname (as written in the passport) must appear in the company name.