What type of company should you register in Switzerland?

Switzerland is one of the most reputable jurisdictions in the world. It manages to survive and continue to prosper whatever crises break out in the world. Located in the center of Europe, the country gives access to the markets on the continent and all around the globe. Besides, the Fintech sphere is rapidly developing in Switzerland. A company registered there will make you qualified for Government support and allow you to use the most advanced banking system in the world. If you are into Fintech business, the canton of Zug is where you should be looking. The canton is a Mecca for blockchain and cryptocurrency companies. Offices of Ethereum, ShapeShift, Xapo, Status, Cosmos Network, and other similar firms can be found there.

If you would like to register a new company in Switzerland or buy a shelf company there, please apply for the assistance of Offshore Pro Group experts. We will help you prepare for the company registration or purchase, collect all the required documents, complete all the forms, and provide legal support to you at all stages of company registration / purchase. This will let you avoid possible pitfalls, and save both time and money when setting up a company in Switzerland.

Firm for business in Switzerland - Photo

Reasons to set up a company in Switzerland

A company registered in Switzerland will bring its owner a great number of advantages. The key advantages of having a company in Switzerland include the following ones:

  • The prestige and the reputability of the jurisdiction;
  • Free access to the ЕС and ЕАСТ markets (around 500 million consumers);
  • Minimal barriers to entering foreign markets;
  • Access to top-class banking and insurance services;
  • Advantageous location between economically strong countries and an advanced transportation infrastructure;
  • 112 treaties on avoidance of double taxation;
  • Multilingual and highly qualified workforce;
  • Access to all the opportunities that the world financial center offers;
  • Rapidly developing Fintech sphere;
  • Tax incentives (available in some cantons);
  • Unparalleled economic and financial stability.
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Your company in Switzerland: what form of company ownership should you choose?

The legislation of Switzerland (‘Code of Obligations’) allows doing business via companies of nine different forms of ownership:

  • Sole Proprietorship (Einzelunternehmen);
  • Simple Partnership (Einfache Gesellschaft);
  • General Partnership (Kollektivgesellschaft, KLG);
  • Limited Partnership (Kommanditgesellschaft, KMG);
  • Limited Company (Aktiengesellschaft, AG);
  • Limited Liability Company (GmbH or Sarl);
  • Cooperative (Genossenschaft);
  • Association (Verein);
  • Fund (Stiftung).

According to the statistics, as of 01.01.2020, the following three forms of ownership were most popular with business people setting up companies in Switzerland:  

  • Aktiengesellschaft – 221,065 (33.8%);
  • GmbH – 207,473 (31.7%);
  • Einzelunternehmen – 160,203 (24.5%).

As of this date, the total of 653,464 companies were subjects of economic activities in Switzerland.

Sole Proprietorship

This form of company ownership can be found in most countries of the world. In Switzerland in particular, it is especially popular with architects, medical doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. If the sole proprietor’s turnover does not exceed 500,000 CHF per year, he or she is subject to simplified accounting requirements. If the turnover exceeds the specified amount, the businessperson has to comply with the rules set forth in the Swiss Code of Obligations.

Simple Partnership

This is a basic form of partnership that is an agreement between two or more people to join forces and resources in order to achieve a common goal. Normally, this form of company ownership is used to carry out a business project and when the project is completed, the partnership is dissolved. A construction consortium would be an example of such a business project. Simple Partnership entails solidary unlimited liability of the partners for the company obligations.

General Partnership (KLG)

A General Partnership can be established by two or more people in Switzerland. The company is subject to see-through taxation. This means that a General Partnership does not pay a profit tax. Instead, the partners are taxed personally on the profit that the company obtains. General Partners have solidary unlimited liabilities even for up to five years after the Partnership is dissolved.

Limited Partnership (KMG)

A Limited Partnership in Switzerland can also be established by two or more people but this type of company has to be registered with the Trade Register. A Partnership Agreement needs to be signed.

There are both General and Limited Partners in a Limited Partnership. The former have unlimited liabilities and they are the business managers while the latter are only liable to the amounts of their contributions to the company capital and entitled to corresponding shares of company profits. Limited Partnerships are normally used to attract additional capital from Limited Partners thus promoting business development.

Limited Company (AG)

This is one of the most popular forms of company ownership in Switzerland. The company is founded by one or more investors who make contributions to the charter capital. Their liabilities are limited to the amounts of these contributions.

It takes more time, money, and effort to set up an AG company in Switzerland in comparison to setting up a partnership. The company has to be registered with the Trade Register, the services of a notary public are required, the company By-laws have to be approved, a Board of Directors has to be appointed, and so on.

LLC (GmbH)

This form of company ownership is often used by small- and medium-size companies in Switzerland as well as family firms. It is the third most popular company ownership type. Its major advantages are limited liabilities of the company founders and a relatively small charter capital required (minimum 20,000 CHF). Taxes are levied twice though: the company pays the corporate tax and the owners are taxed when the dividends are distributed to them.

Cooperative

This type of company can be established by seven or more participants (private individuals or corporate entities). No charter capital is required. At the same time, the cooperative has to be registered with the Trade Register, General Meetings need to be help, and a Board of Directors (minimum three people or companies) has to be appointed. In addition, an external auditor has to be hired.

Association

This is a type of company that is established for non-commercial purposes. Associations in Switzerland are set up to solve social tasks. Minimum to participants are required to form an Association (private individuals or legal entities) and the company has to be registered with the Trade Register.  

Fund

Funds are established for special purposes in Switzerland. A fund can be set up by a notarial act or by a will and it has to be registered too.

Comparison of the most popular forms of ownership in Switzerland

To let you compare the advantages and disadvantages that each form of company ownership possesses and help you make the optimal choice we have compiled to following table:

Sole proprietorshipGeneral partnershipLPGmbHAG
RegistrationNot required; if turnover exceeds 100,000 CHF, then requiredShall be registered with the Trade Register
Minimum number of founders122 (1 unlimited partner and 1 limited partner)11
Minimum charter capital  (CHF)No restrictions20,000100,000 (divided into registered and bearer shares)
Company nameOwner’s personal nameName of a partner or a different name; must end in KLG or KollektivgesellschaftName of a partner or a different name; must end in KMG or KommanditgesellschaftAny name; must end in GmbHAny name; must end in AG or Aktiengesellschaft
Registration requirementsA registration form sufficesA registration form sufficesA registration form sufficesNotary and state registration required; By-laws must be approved  
LiabilitiesUnlimitedUnlimited solidaryUnlimited for general partners; limited for limited partnersLimited to the company assetsLimited to the cost of shares held
ManagementPersonalDirectors; can be hiredGeneral partners; directors can be hiredBoard of Directors elected at the General MeetingBoard of Directors elected at the General Meeting. Management can be delegated to third parties  
Accounting recordsRequired only if annual turnover exceeds 500,000 CHFRequired
AuditNot requiredStandard or simplified audit is required. Simplified audit can be used if the number of company workers does not exceed 10 people and if all the company founders agree
Taxes The owner is taxedEach partner is taxed in accordance with the share of ownershipCompany profits made in Switzerland are taxed; the dividends are also taxed
Initial costs, CHF (state duties, etc.)Consultations – up to 1,000; registration with the Trade Register – 120. Total: 120 – 1,120 Consultations – up to 1,000; notary fee – 2,000-40,000; registration with the Trade Register – 240. Total: 2,240 – 41,240 Consultations – up to 1,000; notary fee – 2,000-40,000; registration with the Trade Register – 600 Total: 2,600 – 41,600 Consultations – 600-2,000; notary fee – 700-2,000; registration with the Trade Register – 600 (if the company capital does not exceed 200,000) Total: 1,900 – 4,600 and moreConsultations – 1,000-4,000; notary fee – 800-2,500; registration with the Trade Register – 600 (if the company capital does not exceed 200,000) Total: 2,400 – 7,100 and more
PurposesSmall private businessSmall trade business; professional businessSmall private businessSmall and medium-size businessLarge business

Our services in Switzerland

If you apply for our assistance, you can register a company in Switzerland (or purchase an existing one) in a fast and efficient manner. In addition to this, we will be happy to provide other services as well:

  • Open a corporate account with a bank or a payment system;
  • Administer the company (prepare and submit the reports, pay the taxes, and so on);
  • Provide legal support (prepare contracts);
  • Provide professional consultations;
  • Register and administer Fintech companies.

If you have any questions pertaining to registering a company in Switzerland, please do not hesitate to use our online chat or write us an email message (see the address at the top of the page). We will respond to you promptly.

What is the most popular form of company ownership in Switzerland?

The following two types of companies are most often registered in Switzerland: AG (Aktiengesellschaft) and GmbH (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung).

How long does it take to set up a company in Switzerland?

Normally, a company can be registered in Switzerland within one to two weeks.

What are the advantages of setting up a company in Switzerland?

A Swiss-based company will give you free access to the European and international markets, a superb banking system, and a wonderful transportation infrastructure. In addition, it will protect your assets and increase the reputability of your business structure.

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