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.When the B residence permit is granted for the first time, the period of validity is usually limited to one year. It can normally be renewed unless there are reasons against a renewal. The short-term residence permit (L permit) is usually valid for a stay of up to one year. In exceptional cases, the L permit can be extended by up to 12 months. For a further extension after these 12 or 24 months, a new labour market assessment must be carried out by the authorities. In the event of a positive decision, a new permit may be issued; however, the applicant has no legal right to it.
The following regulations regarding nationality, residence and requirements apply to
Entrepreneurs from a third country who want to buy land or real estate in Switzerland need a valid C permit and must actually live in Switzerland. This also applies when the spouse of the buyer is a Swiss citizen.
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.
The following taxes apply in connection with real estate and land purchases / sales:
Companies pay tax at their place of value creation, i.e. where the company is based or where it conducts its business activities. In a European comparison of tax as a percentage of company profit, Switzerland ranks 22nd place at 21.17% (as of 2011) behind Montenegro (9%), Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Gibraltar, the Republic of Macedonia (10%), Ireland (12,5%), Latvia, Lithuania (15%), Romania (16%), the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, Greece, Iceland, Russia, Slovenia (20%) and Estonia (21%), according to KPMG.
While federal tax is charged at a flat rate, cantonal tax varies by location and sometimes also by the level of capital or profit. The regular tax rate of the direct federal tax is 8.5% but as tax is levied on profit after tax, an effective tax rate of 7.83% results.
The current tax rates range in the following brackets (approximate numbers):