Switzerland

Individual - Other issues

Last reviewed - 27 November 2019

Treatment of business entities

Principal forms of doing business: The usual form of doing business is setting up an AG/SA (a corporation) or a GmbH/Sarl (a limited liability company or LLC), even for smaller businesses. Those are treated as non-transparent from a tax perspective, whilst partnerships are treated as transparent.

Asset protection via family limited partnerships: These are not common in Switzerland.

Foreign trusts: They are usually treated as transparent for either the settler or the beneficiary depending on the type and conditions of the trust. Only rarely will the tax authorities consider a trust as an independent asset.

Aircraft: No special provisions exist in Switzerland for the treatment of aircraft.

Residence and work permits

Individuals must obtain a residence and work permit for the canton in which they intend to stay before entering Switzerland. Employees from EU member states only require a residence permit. A residence permit is issued if the individual has a Swiss employment contract and is subject to quotas and control of wage and work conditions. A new provision in the Swiss constitution foresees a limitation of migration into Switzerland, which may result in an annual maximum quota of residence/work permits also for EU citizens.

For employees with a non-Swiss employment contract, or for non EU/EFTA states, evidence must be provided by the employer of a search for a candidate with the required classification. These permits are subject to quotas and are bound to the canton that grants them.

The State Secretary of Economy has issued a directive regarding body leasing within a group of companies. Therein, it is stated that also within a group of companies the same restriction applies with regard to body leasing as between unrelated third parties (i.e. permits may be required and body leasing from abroad into Switzerland is generally not allowed). It may affect common secondments or transfers from abroad into Switzerland. Therefore, it may affect the staffing of Swiss-based projects with foreign group employees. The directive may have an impact on the process of obtaining a work permit.