Before you set up your own business, you need to clarify some key points. These include choosing a legal structure for your business (sole proprietorship, limited liability company, company limited by shares…) and writing a business plan.
The Portal for small and medium-sized enterprises provided by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs offers a wealth of useful information, including a list of essential questions you need to ask yourself before setting up a business.
Please note: foreign nationals interested in setting up their own business in Switzerland need to check the information on this page of the SME portal.
The legal structure you choose for your company will determine whether you are obliged to register the company in the commercial register or whether you can do so voluntarily.
To register your company in the commercial register, you can:
contact commercial register office in your canton (webpage available in German, French and Italian), or
register online using the Easygov online desk for companies.
For more information about the conditions, and cost of registration in the commercial register, have a look at the webpage of SECO’s SME portal on how the trade register works.
When you set up your own business, you will need insurance, in particular:
If you hire employees, you will also need to provide the above insurance for them.
The webpage of SECO’s SME portal on ‹how social insurance works› provides information on what insurance you need and how to acquire it.
If you meet certain conditions, you can withdraw capital from your second pillar (Federal Act on Occupational Old Age, Survivors’ and Invalidity Pension Provision, OPA), and, if you have one, from your third pillar (retirement savings account) in order to set up your own business.
For more information on the conditions and procedures for withdrawing retirement savings, have a look at the webpages on the second pillar (section about withdrawing capital from your second pillar to set up your own business) and on the third pillar (section about withdrawing your capital, and when this is possible).
The legal structure you choose will determine what taxes you need to pay. This is illustrated in the table below:
Direct federal income tax
Income tax and wealth tax
Surcharge on top of or deduction from government tax, sometimes with specific rates and provisions
Share capital company
Direct federal tax on profits
Tax on profits and wealth
Surcharge on top of or deduction from government tax
This webpage on SECO’s SMI portal provides a list of taxes for entrepreneurs.
The webpage on types of taxes provides information about taxes in Switzerland.