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Establish own business in Switzerland as a foreigner

Foreigners are generally not disallowed from founding a company in Switzerland. However, a distinction is made between persons from EU/EFTA-states and citizens of third countries.

Persons from EU/EFTA countries

Citizens of EU/EFTA countries (currently still excluding Romania and Bulgaria) are allowed to make themselves self-employed in Switzerland. According to the free movement of persons agreement, persons who do not have a residence permit (C-permit) are also allowed to found a company—the five-year residence permit (B-permit) is sufficient. To register in Switzerland, the planned business activities have to be declared and proven. Documents to provide this proof can be—among others—the following: commercial register entry, VAT-number, business plan, professional register entry, proof of social insurance as a self-employed person, and books of account. Further information is provided by the cantonal migration offices.

Persons from third countries

Persons from non-EU/EFTA states wishing to be self-employed in Switzerland have to live up to standards of labour law. Only C-permit holders or people married to such or Swiss citizens have a legal right to be self-employed in Switzerland. All other persons have to request a permission from the respective administration. Furthermore, these persons have to convince the authorities that the planned company will have a “sustainable positive effect on the Swiss economy.” It is preferable to hand in a fully worked-out business plan. If the request is granted by the administration, the applicant receives a short-term permit for citizens of third-party states (L-permit).

In general, this permit is limited to twelve months and may only be extended for another twelve months. A new labour law examination is conducted by the administration each time the permit is extended.

Further information can be found at and (only for Canton of Zurich) or (national level).

Preferably you establish or convert your company with STARTUPS.CH. STARTUPS.CH will provide you with professional guidance before and after the foundation.

Here you will be able to apply for a counselling interview and to request free documentation.

2 comments about “Establish own business in Switzerland as a foreigner

  1. I am iranian nationalety , live in U.A.E and i have own company from 2005,i want to establish own company in zurich… i need some info and prosess for oppening company….


    • Dear Dizaj

      If you would like to establish a company in Switzerland you need a domicile as well as a director with Swiss residence. Our sister company Findea AG could also provide you with these services. Please find more information here.

      We would be glad to assist you with the foundation of your company.

      Kind regards,

      Your Team

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