frequently asked questions

The most important questions about self-employment

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions about setting up a company in Switzerland, related legal questions and general information.
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How much does it cost to found a company at STARTUPS.CH?

Depending on the chosen legal form, your founding canton and the selected and confirmed partners of STARTUPS.CH, you can even found a company free of charge via our founding service. Calculate a non-binding offer with just a few clicks online.

How long does it take to set up a company?

With STARTUPS.CH you do not only found uncomplicated and simple, but also fast. Here you will find a complete overview of how quickly you can start up without and with STARTUPS.CH. But please count on at least two weeks of foundation time anyway.

What do I have to do when setting up a company?

You can record the entire incorporation online via our homepage or during a consultation with one of our consultants. First of all, calculate a free and non-binding offer. You can then accept the offer and create your personal user login.

In a further step, you have the option of entering all company details (name, address, persons) online and finally submitting the formation definitively to us. A lawyer from STARTUPS.CH will contact you by phone within the time period (weekdays) indicated in the package to discuss the incorporation.

How does the foundation of a company work?

First of all, you will need to clarify all aspects of your company formation, from company name to financing. Then you can calculate the offer for your foundation on STARTUPS.CH and send us the order for the foundation.

A lawyer STARTUPS.CH will then contact you by telephone within the 24h (weekdays) time period indicated in the package to discuss the formation.

How do I prepare myself optimally for setting up a company?

  • Writing a business plan
  • Determine appropriate legal form
  • Define company name
  • Determine company headquarters
  • Clarify capital requirements
  • Appoint management
  • Reserve website
  • Take advantage of any counselling interview
  • Possible attendance of our free courses

How does the personal consultation work?

A personal consultation can be arranged at one of our numerous locations throughout Switzerland. It takes about an hour and is included in the start-up costs (only for BUSINESS and PREMIUM packages).

If you do not found a company immediately, we will charge you CHF 150. In return, you will receive a voucher of the same value after the consultation, which you can then credit directly to the startup costs when you later set up your company via STARTUPS.CH (only for BUSINESS and PREMIUM packages). The consultation is based on your individual questions; no specific documents need to be brought along.

I would like to start my own business, what exactly do I have to do?

Arrange a personal and non-binding consultation in your area now. During the consultation you will be informed in detail about the exact procedure and further steps regarding your independence.

Mandatory: In the case of main or secondary employment with a profit of more than CHF 2'300 per year, you must register with the cantonal equalisation fund. The income must be declared in your private tax return.

For sales of more than CHF 100'000 per year, entry in the commercial register and subjecting the company to VAT is also mandatory. It is often advisable to make voluntary entries in the commercial register and, in the case of VAT, also in the case of lower annual sales.

Do the founders have to appear in person?

No, in principle the founders do not have to appear on site.

Every founder who wishes a legitimacy to sign in the Swiss commercial register must have his signature personally certified by a notary or the municipality.

How do I get residence and work permits?

Anyone who works in Switzerland during their stay or stays in Switzerland for more than three months needs a residence permit.

Switzerland applies a dual system for the admission of foreign workers. Employed persons from EU/EFTA countries benefit from the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons.

Well-qualified workers are admitted from other countries. To apply for a residence permit or for further information, you can contact the cantonal migration office directly.

When may I withdraw my pension fund assets as seed capital?

This is only possible in the case of the formation of a partnership (sole proprietorship, general partnership) and if you have also been recognised by the cantonal equalisation fund as an independently acquiring person. In addition, self-employment must be your main occupation. With the formation of a LLC or PLC, you have no right to receive your pension fund. Find out more here.

Do I have to inform my employer about a possible self-employment?

It depends. In most cases, the employer's consent must be obtained on the basis of the employment contract concluded. This is normally granted, provided that the employer does not compete with the secondary activity and his own performance does not suffer as a result.

If your employment contract mentions an obligation to notify in the event of a sideline, the employer's consent must be obtained. This is normally granted, provided that the employer does not compete with the secondary activity and his own performance does not suffer as a result.

Are there any regulations regarding the nationality of the company founders?

No. The nationality of the company founders is irrelevant. Only when the corporate bodies are filled do regulations apply:

If your employment contract mentions an obligation to notify in the event of a sideline, the employer's consent must be obtained. This is normally granted, provided that the employer does not compete with the sideline and does not affect his own performance.

  • PLC: At least one member of the board of directors or one director with individual signing rights must be permanently resident in Switzerland (nationality no longer plays a role).
  • LLC: At least one managing director with individual signing rights must be resident in Switzerland.

What do I have to bear in mind when converting the legal form?

Companies may change their legal form in accordance with the Merger Act (FusG). The law, Art. 54 of the Merger Act, determines the permissible conversions conclusively. A sole proprietorship cannot be converted directly into a GmbH or AG, but must be transferred with assets and liabilities to a new company to be founded and then liquidated. It is also important to choose the optimum time for a conversion.

At what point after founding does VAT need to be settled?

First of all, it should be determined whether the obligation to pay VAT even applies. There are tax-exempt activities (e.g. providing services abroad) and VAT-exempt activities (e.g. medical or cultural services).  The obligation to pay VAT only starts once a turnover of CHF 100'000 is achieved in Switzerland, meaning that the company should be registered with the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (ESTV) and a VAT number should be obtained upon founding. However, you can voluntarily become subject for turnover below CHF 100'000.

If an existing company expands its business and foresees that they will exceed the turnover limit, it also becomes tax-liable and should report to the ESTV. Therefore, a projection should be made after three months. If projected turnover exceeds the 100,000 CHF limit, the company must report to the ESTV.

If the limit is not reached until some time has passed since founding the company, the company must report to the ESTV by the 1st of January the following year about the extent to which the limit has been exceeded.

According to which criteria do I have to choose my company name?

The company name can be chosen freely. However, certain restrictions must be observed. Thus the name may not deceive about the purpose of the company and the company name may not be descriptive.

  • Deceptive company name: For example, ‘Rudolf Steel Trading AG’ would not be permitted if the company is not involved in the steel trade but rather manages the rental properties of Mrs Rudolf.
  • Descriptive company names: The following examples would not be permitted: ‘Cars AG’, ‘Trading GmbH’ or ‘Painting AG’. Only company names which are expanded upon with further elements that make them individual would be allowed: ‘H. Meier Cars AG’, ‘MiDio Trading GmbH’, ‘Painting 2000 AG’, ‘TATA Transport AG’, ‘Weinfelden Storage AG’.
  • Surname: With a sole proprietorship, the surname (as written in the passport) must appear in the company name.

What do I have to clarify after founding the company?

  • Create Logo & Letterhead
  • Determine accountant / trustee and or accounting software
  • OASI registration
  • VAT registration
  • Take out insurance policies
  • Define company organization
  • Open bank accounts
  • Setup internet and telephone
  • Have your website designed
  • Define advertising concept
  • Possibly attend further courses (e.g. marketing, insurance, Google, ...)
  • Possibly organise a terminal for cashless payment transactions
  • Subscribe to possible credit rating system to check new customers
  • Possible pension fund transferred to the new company
are you ready?

Make your dream of your own company come true!

If you have any questions about our services, you can contact us at any time. Either by telephone, by mail or by booking an appointment online.

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FR:  +41 22 735 96 66
IT:   +41 91 922 81 32
EN: +41 52 269 30 80