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Self-employment

Here are the first steps you need to take to set up your own company …

A well-planned start

To start off on the right foot, you need to clarify a few key issues (legal form, business plan, etc.). The SME portal of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) provides helpful information.

Commercial register

The legal form you choose for your company will determine whether you may, must or may not register the business in the commercial register.
Registration and the preliminary examination of the details are carried out by the commercial registry of the canton where the company is based.

Commercial register, your rights and obligations

Cantonal commercial registries

Federal Office of Justice - Commercial registry

Social insurance

If you are self-employed you must take out your own insurance. The two main types of insurance are social insurance for yourself and any employees and business insurance. For more detailed information, see SECO’s SME portal.

Taxes

Depending on the legal form of their company, self-employed persons pay either income and wealth tax like natural persons or capital and income taxes like a legal entity.

Value added tax (VAT)

If you generate an annual turnover of more than CHF 100,000, you must pay VAT. You must register with the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) of your own accord within 30 days from when you begin generating income.
You can download a registration form the FTA’s website. SECO’s SME portal also offers explanations of VAT, input tax deduction and accounting approaches.

VAT registration

The online questionnaire will help you determine whether your company is subject to VAT, and allow you, at the same time, to submit the registration.

Detailed information on VAT

Information for foreign nationals interested in setting up a company in Switzerland

Support for start-up companies

Start-Biz is a free online service offered by SECO to make it easier for you to register your company with the following agencies: Trade register, VAT, social insurance and accident insurance: