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Forming a Swiss Company

  • Incorporation time: 18 days
  • Shelf companies: No
  • Accounting: No
  • Secretary: No
  • Nominee Shareholder: Yes
  • Nominee director: Yes
Tax 12%
1 CHF = 0.80 €

History of Switzerland

With nearly eight million inhabitants, Switzerland is located in Western Europe, surrounded by France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein. Switzerland is a multicultural nation due to its geographical position. Switzerland’s official languages are German, French, Italian and Romansh. Switzerland is characterized by its famous political and military neutrality and comprises 26 cantons (districts).

Switzerland as an Onshore Centre

Switzerland has several cantons and each applies its own corporate tax rate. Switzerland is considered an Onshore location with low tax rates, particularly as companies registered in the canton of Obwalden will only pay a tax rate of 12.66%. Companies may also be domiciled in Lausanne, Geneva, Zug, and Zurich, but will be subject to higher tax rates.

Switzerland Summary

Switzerland has many cantons, each with a different tax system. It is one of the few countries that still allows anonymous bearer shares in form of the S.A (Société Anonyme, or public limited company), which requires a capital of 100,000 CHF. SARL companies (Société à responsabilité limitée, or limited liability companies) do not offer anonymity, except by share ownership through a trust or nominee, and require a capital of 20,000 CHF. It is recommended to form a Swiss company with a holding company in Hong Kong in order to receive the dividends, given the advantageous agreements between Switzerland and Hong Kong. In order to incorporate a company in Switzerland it must have a local Director who is either resident in Switzerland, or is a Swiss national.

Types of Swiss Companies

Setting up a company in Switzerland takes around a week and has six stages.
Types of companies Minimum Capital Number of Shareholder, Partners or Members
SARL (GmBH) 20,000 CHF minimum At least one shareholder, limited liability.
Public limited company (AG) 100,000 CHF minimum At least one shareholder, limited liability.
 

Role of Company Directors and Shareholders in Switzerland

The Director of a Swiss company must be a Swiss resident or national and is considered liable for the activity of the Company. It is possible to appoint a director under a mandate to carry out the administration of the company. Details of the shareholders is public for SARLs (GmBH) but is anonymous for S.A companies (public limited companies).

It is generally recommended that clients hold their shares in a Swiss company via a holding company in Hong Kong or Europe in order to avoid the 35% withholding tax (see accounting and taxation)

Links:
Commercial Register
Chambre des Notaires

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