How can an entrepreneur from a country outside the EU/EFTA area (third state) set up a company in Switzerland? This page provides an overview of the most important legal requirements, background information and tips for entrepreneurs from third states.
Only holders of a valid C permit (settlement permit for third-country nationals), the spouse of a C permit holder or the spouse of a Swiss citizen have the legal right to establish their own business in Switzerland.
All other persons have no legal right to set up their own business. They must submit an application to the respective cantonal authorities. Apart from the necessary personal requirements, it is decisive in the evaluation that the company will have a "lasting positive effect or influence on the Swiss labour market".
A lasting positive effect on the Swiss labour market is considered to be given if the new company or self-employed person contributes to the industry-specific diversification of the regional economy, preserves or creates several jobs for local staff, makes substantial investments and generates new orders for the Swiss economy.Therefore, entrepreneurs need to have a very clear business idea already before they eventually move to Switzerland. A convincing business plan is the best foundation for a successful evaluation process. Existing organisational relationships with other companies is another requirement. And the application must include a foundation charter and/or a Commercial Register entry.
If the application is accepted by the cantonal authorities, the entrepreneur is granted at least a short-term residence permit for third-country nationals (L permit) or a residence permit (B permit). Both permits are subject to the L and B permit quotas set annually by the Federal Council.The B residence permit has a period of validity limited to one year. It can normally be renewed unless there are reasons against a renewal. The short-term residence permit (L permit) is valid for a stay of up to one year. In exceptional cases, the L permit can be extended by up to 12 months.
The following regulations regarding nationality, residence and requirements apply to
If these requirements are met, the same regulations for the purchase of real estate apply as for Swiss citizens (national treatment) or citizens of EU/EFTA countries. When buildings or land are sold for commercial purposes, the following taxes are due:
In Switzerland, companies pay taxes on their earnings and on their capital. Earnings are taxed at the federal, cantonal and local levels, while capital is taxed only at the cantonal and local levels.
The federal tax on net profits is 8.5% (art. 68, LIFD). The other rates vary significantly according to canton or commune. In general, central Switzerland enjoys the lowest rates. In this region, the total tax burden (federal, cantonal and local) is between 10% and 14%, according to the BAKBASEL Taxation Index 2013 (next edition: early 2014). In contrast, it reaches 18.2% in Zurich and 20% in Basel-Stadt.