Setting-up a company in Switzerland

Type of legal entity

There are several types of companies in Switzerland. The most common taxable entities can be divided into two main categories:

  • Sole proprietorship and unincorporated companies, such as sole proprietorships (“Raison individuelle” (RI) or “Einzelfirma” (EF), general and limited partnerships (“Société simple” (SS) or “einfache Gesellschaft” (EG), “Société en nom collectif” (SNC) or “Kollektivgesellschaft” (KOG); “Société en commandite” (SCom) or “Kommanditgesellschaft “(KG);
  • Incorporated companies, such as limited liability companies and joint-stock companies (“Société à responsabilité limitée” (SàRL) or “Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung” (GmbH); “Société anonyme” (SA) or Aktiengesllschaft (AG)).

For entities other than companies, such as foundations, associations, investment companies with fixed capital (SICAF), collective investment schemes with a direct investment in real estate the same rules apply to companies, and they are also considered as taxable persons.

In Switzerland, the most frequent companies are Limited companies (SA/AG), Limited liability companies (SàRL/GmbH), Sole proprietorships (RI), General partnerships (SNC/KOG), and Limited partnerships (SCom/KG).

When considering the creation of a company, a recurring question comes to mind: what legal form should be chosen for the company to be? Many criteria must be considered to choose the optimal legal form, such as capital to be invested for the good development of the company, the number of stakeholders (partners or shareholders) for the projector the accepted level of responsibility.

It is important to note that there is a register of all companies in Switzerland called the commercial register (RC) which lists all companies. Moreover, depending on the importance of the company, it is necessary to call upon a notary to legalize the documents such as registration with the RC and articles of association.

To illustrate the important points to remember, please find below a summary table of 5 different types of companies (SA/AG, SàRL/GmbH, RI/EF, SNC/KOG, and SCom/KG) and their characteristics.

List of abbreviations used:

  • SA/AG : Société anonyme/Aktiengesellschaft à Limited/Public company
  • SàRL/GmbH : Société à responsabilité limitée/Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung à Limited liability company (LLC)
  • RI/EF : Raison individuelle/Einzelunternehmern à Sole Proprietorship
  • SNC/KOG : Société en nom collectif/Kollektivgesellschaftà General partnership
  • SCom/KG : Société en commandite/Kommanditgesellschaft à Limited Partership

Key contacts