Establishing a company in Switzerland

Switzerland is a federal republic that encompasses 26 cantons in Western Europe. It shares borders with Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Lichtenstein. The Swiss Confederation was established in 1291 and received its independence from the Roman Empire in 1499. Because of its location it is ethnically diverse and so has embraced several official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh, the latter a language unique to Switzerland. It has a large and well-developed banking system. Establishing a company in Switzerland may be a good option for various kinds of business activity and offers many advantages.

Switzerland is famous for maintaining neutrality in state or military affairs, and so did not participate in either of the two World Wars or any other war in the modern age, and chose to join the UN only in 2002.

The standard of living there is particularly high, and it is considered one of the most stable countries in various respects. It is characterized by mountainous Alpine landscapes that are especially impressive alongside lakes and verdant valleys. The state capital is Bern, containing all national authorities, but the two major cities in size and business are Zurich and Geneva. The population is 8 million.

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Four things you did not know about Switzerland:

  • Albert Einstein wrote his “Theory of Relativity” in Bern.
  • The Swiss are the biggest chocolate consumers in the world – with an average of 9.5 kg per person annually. Chocolate production began there in the 18th century and grew significantly in the 19th century with the invention of new processing technologies. Switzerland is the home of milk chocolate.
  • “Like a Swiss watch”, as the saying goes, is not just an idiom. Swiss watch manufacturing costs are 330 more expensive than that in China.
  • The country has the densest network of train tracks in Europe, with over 5,000 km of tracks and the amazing sum of 350 million train users yearly. This number is particularly surprising when considering that overall population is just 8 million. Recently a new and enormous tunnel was opened, the third largest in the world that runs through the Alps. It was constructed as part of the ambitious “Alp Transit” project to cross the Alps by train.

Switzerland’s economy

Switzerland has a stable, uneventful and flourishing economy that includes a skilled work force that specializes in several areas, from industry and tourism to banking and financial services. It offers a competitive and approachable business environment for investments and registration. The tax rates are low and its capital markets efficient and very developed. It is one of the richest countries on the globe, and certainly the richest in Europe in key economic measurements. Its active sectors include banking and finance, ultra-advanced industry (chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, scientific and engineering machinery and luxury goods), tourism and some agriculture. It still retains its local currency - the franc, consistently stable versus other global currencies. The GDP (adapted to purchasing power) is 362 billion USD, and per capita income in among the world’s highest – 54,000 USD.

Additional information about establishing offshore companies in Switzerland:

General
Type of company
GMBH
Relevant Companies Law
Bundesgesetz über die Anlagefonds, Bundesgesetz über die Internationale Privatrecht
Offices
Law requires companies to provide a local office address
Language of original incorporation documents
Romansh English in some cantons
Finance and Taxation
Currency
CHF
Corporate tax rate
Each canton has its own rates
Standard share capital
20,000 CHF
Office Holders
Secretary
Obligation to appoint company secretary
Not required
Obligation to appoint local secretary
Irrelevant
Type of entity that may function as company secretary
Irrelevant
Director
Obligation to appoint company director
Required
Obligation to appoint local company director
Required
Minimum number of directors
1
Type of entity that may serve as company director
Individual
Shareholders
Obligation to register shareholders
Required
Obligation to register local shareholders
Not required
Minimum number of shareholders
2
Type of entity that may register as shareholder
Individual and/or company
Type of shares
Registered shares
Accessibility of Information
Company registrar
Information regarding office holders is not accessible to the public
Annual Assembly and Reporting
Obligation to hold annual assembly
Required
Obligation to prepare financial reports
Required
Obligation to submit financial reports
Not required