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FAQ of foreign entrepreneurs

Below are the answers to frequently asked questions by foreign entrepreneurs

You are from abroad and want to start a company in Switzerland? No problem! Here are some of the questions our clients from abroad tend to ask us:

What are the most frequent legal forms?

The most frequent legal forms are

  • Public limited company (AG)
  • Limited Liability Company (GmbH)

Here you get more information about all the legal forms.


Are there any laws regarding the nationality of the company's founder(s)?

No, the nationality of the founders is of no importance. Rules do apply when it comes to the composition of the bodies that govern the corporate entity:

Public limited company (AG)
A member of the board or a director must be resident of Switzerland, with sole signatory rights. This prerequisite can also be met if two members of the board or two directors have joint signatory rights and are residents of Switzerland.

Limited liability company (GmbH)
At least one managing director who is authorised to sign on behalf of the company must be resident in Switzerland.

STARTUPS.CH can propose trustworthy board members and directors.


How long does it take to establish a company, and how much does it cost?

Once the terms for setting up the business have been settled (corporate structure, legal form, consultation etc.) and all the documents have been sent to us, a company can be set up in just 2-3 weeks. If you apply for the express foundational procedure (bearing additional costs), the company will be inscribed in the commercial register within approximately 5 days. Calculate your personal offer with our calculation tool.


Where should the seed capital be deposited?

Public limited company (AG)
The share capital must be deposited at any Swiss bank which will then issue the letter of deposit. This is required to form the company.

Cost: CHF 150 - 400

STARTUPS.CH is happy to assist you in choosing the right bank


Limited liability company (GmbH)
The nominal capital has to be paid into a blocked account for company formations at STARTUPS.CH. We will then issue the letter of deposit which is required for the formation of the company.

Cost: CHF 150 - 400


For legal reasons, the share or nominal capital cannot be transferred to a private account after the company has been formed. A business account is required.


When can the founders dispose of the seed capital?

After the company has entered the commercial register, the money is transferred to the account of the newly formed company (a business account is mandatory, see note above).


Do the founders have to appear in person?

No, they don't. However, STARTUPS.CH would appreciate to get to know its customers in person. Every founder who would like to have a signatory right in the Swiss commercial register has to have his or her signature certified.


How is the company established?

First, make sure you have clarified all from company name to financing. Then, complete an online offer on STARTUPS.CH and register as a member. Calculate your personal offer.


Where can I have my signature certified in countries other than Switzerland so that it is accepted in Switzerland?

This can be done at a Swiss consulate or with a specially qualified Swiss notary (by means of apostille).


What are the laws on corporate accounting?

The general laws governing accounting in Switzerland are brief and straightforward. By law, an income statement (profit and loss statement) and balance sheet must be drafted each year clearly and lucidly according to universally accepted commercial standards. Accounting may thus comply with any of the various international standards (e.g. US-GAAP, IAS, FER).


How high are the taxes for companies, and what tax incentives exist?

Switzerland is - depending on the canton - characterized by a low overall tax burden for companies and individuals. The total tax burden for companies ranges from 11-25%. There are attractive options for optimizing corporate taxes on a case by case basis. Depending on their choice of location and business focus, enterprises may enjoy tax incentives and other benefits. -> Contact STARTUPS.CH if you have any questions relating to taxation matters.


How can I obtain residence and work permits?

A residence permit is required for anyone who works during their stay in Switzerland or who stays in the country for more than three months. Switzerland applies a dual system to allowing non-Swiss manpower into the country. Wage earners from the EU/EFTA states benefit from the bilateral agreements. Skilled manpower from other countries is also admitted.

Except from a few product groups, there is complete freedom of trade between Switzerland and Europe.


How easy is the exchange of goods with other European countries for a company in Switzerland?

Except for a few product groups there is complete free trade between Switzerland and Europe.


Can you pay with Euros in Switzerland?

The official currency is the Swiss franc (CHF). However, the Euro is widely accepted as means of payment by most shops and businesses, especially in cities and in tourist centres. Banks will open and manage accounts in Euro. Accounting may be kept in a foreign currency - however, the inventory, operating statement and financial statement must be converted to and submitted in Swiss francs at the end of the fiscal year.


Can foreigners buy property and real estate?

EU/EFTA citizens who have permanent residence is in Switzerland can buy property without a permit. Non-EU/EFTA citizens generally require a permit for buying property and real estate for their personal use (exception: buying a main residence when your primary place of residence is Switzerland).


What type of residency permit is required to start up a company in Switzerland?

For all legal forms, any valid residency permit is required.