Legal Structures

In Switzerland, any profit-oriented business activity is governed by an officially recognised legal structure. The following legal company structures are some of the most common for doing business in Switzerland: sole proprietorship, GmbH, “Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung” (similar to an LLC in the US) or AG, “Aktiengesellschaft” (similar to a Corporation in the US).

Each of these legal structures has advantages and disadvantages that should be carefully considered before founding the company. The following key criteria apply when deciding on a particular legal structure:

  • Number of founders
  • Cost of foundation
  • Capital requirement
  • Risk / Liability
  • Taxes
  • Social benefits
  • Company name
  Sole Proprietorship Limited Liability Company (GmbH) Stock Corporation (AG)
Formal requirement Entry in the commercial registry starting at annual revenue of CHF 100,000 (voluntary for less revenue) Notary public certificate, entry in commercial registry Notary public certificate, entry in commercial registry
Purpose Commercial purpose or non-profit Commercial purpose or non-profit Commercial purpose or non-profit
Founder(s) 1 natural person At least 1 natural person or legal entity At least 1 natural person or legal entity
Institution None Annual general meeting, executive director, statutory auditor Annual general meeting, executive director, statutory auditor
Liability Private assets Company assets Company assets
Minimum capital requirement Not required CHF 20,000 (payment in full) CHF 100,000 (including a minimum deposit of CHF 50,000)
Advantages Simple founding procedure No minimum capital Little administrative effort Limited liability Low minimum capital requirement Limited liability Anonymity

More detailed information on the legal structures can be found in the Gründen magazine.

 

Are you intending to establish a sole proprietorship? Plans of self-employment must be registered in due time at a cantonal branch of the Swiss Compensation Office.

 

Cantonal contact points

Compensation Office - Canton Basel-Stadt (in German)

Compensation Office - Canton Basel-Landschaft (in German)

Compensation Office - Canton Jura (in French)

 

Further information

Easily create a company online - EasyGov

Sébastien Meunier

Your contact person

Sébastien Meunier

Director Industrial Transformation and Entrepreneurship

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