Lindemann Law

How to relocate to Switzerland as an entrepreneur or investor

Relocating to Switzerland as an entrepreneur or investor is a popular option, but it can be complex. There are different types of residence categories, and the requirements vary depending on your nationality and the type of business you are involved in. We can help you navigate the process and ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Many of our entrepreneur and investor clients currently ask us how they could relocate to Switzerland. There are different types of residence categories in Switzerland. According to the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration (FNIA) a distinction is made between citizens of the European Union or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and third-country nationals.

How may EU/EFTA citizens apply for a Swiss residency permit?

EU-/EFTA-citizens have a privileged status in Switzerland under the so-called bilateral agreement. EU-/EFTA-citizens without professional activities need to prove that they have sufficient financial means, health care insurance and adequate accommodation. Another option for EU/EFTA-citizens is an employment contract with a Swiss employer.

EU/EFTA entrepreneurs obtain residency permits under the following conditions:

  1. The establishment of a company or a business premise with an actual and economically viable business activity in Switzerland muss be substantiated (e.g. extract from commercial register, balance sheet/income statement, workload).
  2. Acceptance of the self-employment by the Social Insurance Institution (e.g. SVA Zurich) must be available.
  3. Evidence of income and assets (e.g. bank account statement) must be available.

How may third-country nationals apply for a Swiss residency permit?

The process for obtaining residence for third-country nationals is more challenging. For third-country nationals residence permits can be granted for retired persons from 55 years, for medical and educational reasons and of course for business reasons. Notably, investors and entrepreneurs who arrive with their businesses in Switzerland and create or maintain jobs may obtain residence permits for themselves.

How can third-country entrepreneurs obtain Swiss residency permit:

a) Interests of the economy as a whole

The admission of third-country nationals must be in the general interest of the Swiss economy. This may be the case if a service is to be provided for which there is a strong demand and no oversupply and, furthermore, jobs are created or investments made (e.g. business plan, balance sheet and profit & loss account).

b) Financial and operation requirements

The expected income from the envisaged self-employment must be sufficient to cover operational costs and living expenses (e.g. business plan, budgeted balance sheet, liabilities from loans). Furthermore, the necessary facilities, including business premises, must be obtainable (e.g. rental agreement). This requires having sufficient seed capital.

c) Personal requirements

On principle, third-country nationals may only be admitted to work if they are managers, specialists or other qualified workers (e.g. curriculum vitae, diplomas, educational certificates and job references/testimonials).

How may Third-Country Investors apply for a Swiss residency permit?

Corporate investments in Switzerland may support you being eligible for a Swiss residency permit. However, relocating to Switzerland through corporate investments involves legal complexities including compliance with Swiss corporate and immigration laws.

a) Establishing a Company

One of the most straightforward ways to relocate to Switzerland is by establishing your own company.

b) Investing in an Existing Business

Alternatively, you can explore opportunities to invest in existing Swiss businesses. You can either invest directly or partner with Swiss entrepreneurs.

c) Venture Capital and Startups

For entrepreneurial spirits, Switzerland is a hotspot for startups and venture capital. Cities like Zurich, Geneva, and Lausanne are bustling with innovation, and the government offers numerous incentives to support entrepreneurship.

What are the essential steps to prepare for relocation to Switzerland?

Before relocating to Switzerland, it is essential to consider the following steps:

a) Financial Planning

Assess your financial situation and prepare for initial expenses.

b) Business Plan

Create a detailed business plan outlining your corporate investment strategy (e.g. budget, market opportunities/prospects and comparisons, assignment contracts, etc.).

c) Legal Consulting

Consult with Swiss legal experts to ensure compliance with all immigration, corporate and tax laws. Swiss lawyers may guide you through the process of establishing a company or making an investment as well as the immigration.

d) Accommodation

Plan your accommodation and your children’s education, considering the location as well as the cultural and language aspects.

How can we help?

We offer comprehensive legal and tax assistance to private and business clients on relocations to Switzerland. Our specialists provide tailored legal and tax advice. Our services encompass legal analysis and strategies, establishing companies and enabling investments, application and residency permit support. We will guide you through corporate and immigration challenges and opportunities. Contact our lawyers, auditors, tax advisors or notaries – we look forward to hearing from you.

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