Unless you are already in Switzerland and speak the local language, the practical way is to engage a lawyer, consultant or fiduciary to establish your Swiss company (a fiduciary is a Chartered Accountant with substantial legal knowledge, without being a proper lawyer). The main steps may be summarized as follows:
Step by Step Checklist
1. Choose your prefered legal form
2. Have foundation documents drawn up by a fiduciary or lawyer
3. Review and sign documents and have signatures authenticated by a notary public or municipal administration (varies by canton)
4. Deposit capital
5. Return foundation documents and confirmation of capital deposit
6. Company is founded and registered in the commercial registry
There are no particular restrictions on foreign owned companies in Switzerland. The four main types of legal forms in Switzerland are:
- Limited Liability Company (GmbH; minimal capital CHF 20,000)
- Public Limited Company (AG; minimal capital CHF 100,000)
- Sole Enterprise (no capital required)
- Limited Partnership
All legal forms will require one person residing in Switzerland. You can find an overview of the main legal forms and their advantages and disadvantages as well as checklists to found a company on www.startups.ch and www.gruenden.ch.
The costs of founding a company are different in every canton and dependant on the legal form and company size. Following benchmarks can be applied:
- Public limited company (AG): CHF 1750 - 3,000*
- Limited liability company (GmbH): CHF 1230 - 2,000*
- Sole enterprise: CHF 500 - 900
- Limited partnership: CHF 300 - 900
* Normally, we recommend that you have the company incorporated by a fiduciary or attorney; in this case, the cost is CHF 3,000-4,000 all inclusive. Additional costs of approximately CHF 1,000 will arise when founding an AG or GmbH for an audit certificate, incorporation report and agreement on the contribution in kind.
Additionally, you will also need contracts:
- Employment contract: CHF 230 - 750
- Terms and Conditions (AGB): CHF 300 - 1,000
- Shareholders’ agreement: CHF 950 - 2,000
- Articles of association: CHF 750 - 2,000
- Trademark protection: CHF 300 - 1,000
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