WELCOME TO OCRA (SWITZERLAND) SARL

OCRA Worldwide is a global corporate service provider, established in 1975, operating in more than 17 countries on three continents. Located in one of the world's main international financial centres, OCRA (Switzerland) Sàrl has accumulated a wealth of expertise in international company incorporation, Swiss-based companies and Swiss-based multi-level structures.

Switzerland manages almost 35% of international private and institutional funds and is renowned for its political, economical and social stability.

Our office specialises in offering tailor-made solutions to companies and entrepreneurs. Here's how we can assist you:

  • Create and strengthen your international presence
  • Provide rationalized corporate structures and corporate planning
  • Provide tax expertise
  • Provide financial services

At OCRA (Switzerland) Sàrl, you can be assured of a service-orientated team who have an in-depth understanding of the complexities of this highly specialised domain. We have both the expertise to act in an advisory capacity, as well as the capacity to fulfil the management and administrative obligations of a Swiss solution.

From individual solutions to large global projects, OCRA (Switzerland) Sàrl offers a range of services that can be scaled to suit the size of any project. We base our service delivery on what you need. We are proud of the long-term relationships we have established with our clients - relationships based on mutual trust and customised solutions.

We warmly invite your enquiries
We would welcome the opportunity to assist you. Call us direct on +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation. For more information about our services, follow the links below.

MAGALI MALVAREZ
Managing Director

BUSINESS LINES AND GLOBAL SOLUTIONS

  • Swiss Holding Companies
  • Swiss Service Companies
  • Swiss Domiciliary Companies
  • Swiss Mixed Companies
  • Swiss Financial Companies
  • Investment funds design, registration and management
  • International Structures using Swiss companies as a building block
  • Swiss Trustee Services
  • Swiss Foundations
  • Swiss Real Estate
  • Swiss Family Offices
  • Banking Services
  • Professional Directors Services
  • Accounting, Bookkeeping and VAT Services
  • Office Services
  • International Tax Management – Compliance, Corporate Structuring and Re-structuring
  • International Import and Export Trading Services
  • Trade Finance Services
  • Double Tax Treaties Management
  • Transfer of Administration to OCRA Switzerland

Contact Us

OCRA (Switzerland) Sàrl
Place St François 12 bis
1003 Lausanne
Switzerland

T: +41 21 643 10 26
F: +41 21 643 10 27
E: ocrach@ocra.com

Languages Spoken: English, French, Italian, Spanish

Time in Switzerland is:

WHY SWITZERLAND

  • Switzerland manages almost 35% of international private and institutional funds and is renowned for its political, economical and social stability.
  • Switzerland’s longstanding neutrality has led to its status as the home of prestigious and key organisations such as the United Nations and the Red Cross.
  • Switzerland has offered international investors a haven of stability and discretion for 100s of years.
  • Breathtakingly beautiful, enduringly stable, with your choice of first class financial services, Switzerland offers a very attractive second home option to individuals looking to re-domicile their business and relocate their families.

ABOUT SWITZERLAND

OVERVIEW

Undoubtedly one of the most attractive countries in the world to live in, Switzerland offers individuals not only some of the best living standards in the world, but also provides an unsurpassed infrastructure for companies operating in the greater European area.

It is also one of the safest countries in the world. Swiss people are law-abiding to a fault, rendering even the minimal police presence superfluous. A recent survey also ranked the country among those with the lowest level of corruption in the world.

The country comprises 26 cantons. Although it does not belong to the European Union (UE), it is a full member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Likewise, Switzerland does not belong to the European Monetary System, yet it is a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Switzerland is also a member of a number of international economic organisations, including the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The country borders with major EU countries, namely with Austria, France, Germany, Italy as well as Liechtenstein. Major Swiss cities include Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Lucerne, Lugano and Lausanne.

The diversity of the landlocked, mountainous country is the essence of Switzerland and gives the country its unique identity. In Switzerland, seasons are very distinct, with summers that are hot without being scorching and winters that are cold enough to go skiing, but without extreme temperatures.

Nature and leisure activities are among the most important aspects of Swiss tourism. It goes without saying that Switzerland is one of the best winter sports destinations in the world. Swimming and water-sports have big followings at all the lakeside resorts, and almost everywhere, water is clean. Boats and equipment for windsurfing are available for rent on almost all lakes. Rowing, canoeing, walking, skating and other healthy pursuits are also popular.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

A STRONG ECONOMY

Switzerland’s gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to be $ 362.4 billion (2012 estimation) with $ 54,600 of the GDP per capita.

A high degree of political and monetary stability as well the central location of the country are the major factors of the economical appeal of Switzerland whose economy is one of the most productive in the world. The political system of the country is free of bureaucracy. The labour force of the country is highly educated and dynamic.

Switzerland is one of the world’s major financial centres. Swiss banking network is one of the most highly developed in the world. In 2003, around 5.6% of the economically active population in Switzerland was working in the finance sector. The Electronic Stock Exchange in Zurich is Europe’s third largest, based on the value of equity trading.

The main strength of the Swiss finance centre is the asset management and investment advisory services. The total funds under management in Switzerland currently amount to roughly 2.800 billion Swiss Francs. About 50 % of that impressive sum is owned by foreign clients.

In addition, Switzerland is highly industrial country with the following major industries: machinery, pharmaceutics, chemical manufacture, high-technology and precision instruments.

Freight forwarding, insurance and tourism are another significant part of the country’s economy.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

THE GOVERNMENT

The 1848 federal constitution (amongst the oldest constitutions in the world) defines a political system which makes Switzerland the closest state in the world to a direct democracy. Executive power is exercised by the government and the federal administration and is not concentrated in any one person.

As a consequence Switzerland is ranked per the Corruption Perception Index as the 7th best country in terms of non-corruption. As other significant figures one also finds an unemployment rate of 2.8% and a level of literacy of 99%.

Switzerland has avoided alliances that might entail military, political, or direct economic action and maintains diplomatic relations with almost all countries and historically has served as a neutral intermediary and host to major international treaty conferences. The country has no major disputes in its bilateral relations.

Switzerland is a federal state composed of the 26 following cantons: Aargau, Appenzell Ausser-Rhoden, Appenzell Inner-Rhoden, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Bern, Fribourg, Geneve, Glarus, Graubunden, Jura, Luzern, Neuchatel, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Sankt Gallen, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Solothurn, Thurgau, Ticino, Uri, Valais, Vaud, Zug and Zurich.

The cantons retain some attributes of sovereignty, such as fiscal autonomy and the right to manage internal cantonal affairs. Under the 2000 Constitution, cantons hold all powers not specifically delegated to the federation.

The primary seat of power is the bicameral Swiss parliament, the Federal Assembly, which has two houses – the Council of State and the National Council, both having equal powers in all respect, including the right to introduce the legislation. The Council of state consists of 46 members who are directly elected in each canton by majority voting. The top executive body and collective Head of State is the Federal Council, a collegial body of seven members elected by the Federal Assembly for 4-year terms. The President of the Confederation is elected from the seven to assume special representative functions for one year.

Through referenda, citizens may challenge any law voted by federal parliament and through initiatives introduce amendments to the federal constitution, making Switzerland a direct democracy.

The top executive body and collective Head of State is the Federal Council, a collegial body of seven members elected by the Federal Assembly for 4-year terms. The President of the Confederation is elected from the seven to assume special representative functions for one year.

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LAWS, REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS

Switzerland has a strong policy regarding innovation and as a matter of fact retained its place atop the rankings in the Global Innovation Index 2013.

While the substantive law of Switzerland is mostly federal, civil procedure law is cantonal. Each canton has its own code of civil procedure. The organisation of courts vary from one canton to another. However, some basic rules of civil procedure are applicable in all cantons.

The Federal Parliament formally enacts Swiss federal laws. Under the Federal Constitution, the cantons are given lawmaking competence, unless a specific provision confers this power to the Federal Assembly. Areas of federal control include matters of national interest such as defence and foreign affairs, fiscal policies, and rail and postal services.

Swiss law is primarily statutory law. Constitutional provisions take precedence over ordinary statutes and administrative regulations. Such statutory law can be found in the federal and cantonal corpus juris.

Decisions of a court are not binding on other courts.

The private law primarily comprises civil law and the law of obligations. Civil law, family law, estate and property law were codified at the federal level in the Swiss Civil Code in 1907.

The law of obligations covers contract law, unjust enrichment (quasi contracts), torts, partnerships, corporations and negotiable instruments. It was codified in the Swiss Code of Obligations in 1881. These laws are issued in German, French and Italian, but unofficial English translations are available.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

THE PEOPLE

Switzerland is extremely open culturally and economically, and thus should have all the services a foreign language speaker could possibly want.

Swiss quality enjoys worldwide recognition. It is the result of a good educational system, a strong work ethic and co-operative industrial relations. The country ranks among the top five globally in terms of educational structures and enjoys high standards of education at all levels. Public universities, which are mainly located in Lausanne, Geneva, Bern, Basel, Zürich, St. Gall, Neuchâtel, and Fribourg, offer well regarded advanced degrees and polytechnic universities are world known for their research. In addition to the excellent Swiss public school system, international curricula are available in most large towns.

Switzerland is a small country with approximately 41 284 sq km of land and 8,04 million inhabitants (2013). There are 4 national languages: German (65.5% of the population), French (22.8%), Italian (8.4%) and Romansch, a Rhaeto-Roman dialect spoken in parts of the Grisons (0.6%). English language is very widespread and it is often used as a link between Switzerland’s various linguistic communities.

Switzerland is extremely open culturally and economically, and thus should have all the services a foreign language speaker could possibly want.

Zurich, Geneva and Basel have international airports. They are efficient, accessible and offer direct daily flights to all major European cities. A reliable rail network links cities and towns throughout the country.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

BUSINESS PRACTICE AND ETIQUETTE

  • In Swiss business culture, clothing is formal and conservative.
  • Clothing styles for both men and women are more subdued in the German north than in the French and Italian speaking regions.
  • Standard attire for men includes finely tailored suits, starched shirts, and ties.
  • Standard attire for women includes suits with skirts of a conservative length.
  • Pantsuits, in classic styles, can also be acceptable.
  • The Swiss may initially seem reserved. But once you develop a rapport with them, you’ll generally find them honest, responsible people and loyal.
  • The Swiss are very polite and good listeners. They are extremely attentive, rarely interrupt, and remember practically everything you say to them.
  • The Swiss tend to be conservative in their opinions and do not change their minds easily but it would be wrong to think of them as unnecessarily stubborn.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

SWISS TAXATION: REAL ADVANTAGES FOR INVESTORS & ENTREPRENEURS

OVERVIEW

The cumulative financial load of taxes in Switzerland is well lower than most of other OECD countries.

Because of its federal structure (the federation comprises 26 sovereign cantons), Switzerland does not have a uniform taxation system. Taxes may be levied at federal, cantonal and communal levels. While looking complex, it is in the final end a sophisticated system that can be made into a very business oriented solution.

In fact this is where experts and specialists from OCRA Switzerland will work with you in order to create the best tailor made structure for your project.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

CORPORATE INCOME TAX

Corporate tax rates on profit do vary from canton to canton and from commune to commune. Table 1 provides an overview of the ordinary profit tax rates applicable to corporate taxpayers domiciled in major Swiss cities in 2013:

Table 1: Examples of effective Corporate tax rates in 5 cantons.

Canton Regular Company Domiciliary Status Company
Fribourg 19.6 % ~ 9 %
Zug 14.9 % ~ 9 %
Vaud (Lausanne) 23.5 % ~ 12 %
Geneva 24.12 % ~ 12 %
Zurich 21.1 % ~ 12 %

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

WITHHOLDING TAX

Withholding tax is levied by the Federal State in particular on dividends paid by Swiss corporations, on interest paid by a bank (in the sense of the Withholding Tax Act) as well as on certain lottery gains and insurance benefits. The ordinary tax rate amounts to 35%; reduced rates apply to insurance benefits. It should be mentioned that where a Double tax treaty (DTT) applies, the statutory ordinary rate of 35% may be cut down to nil.

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INHERITANCE & GIFT TAX

The Federal State levies no inheritance or gift taxes. Those are left to the competence of the cantons, which means that there are 26 different inheritance and gift tax regimes.

For instance, whereas the canton of Schwyz does not raise inheritance or gift taxes, many cantons do not levy or levy very reduced inheritance taxes in the case of property passing between spouses or from parent to child.

The diversity of available fiscal regimes, coupled with lower inheritance and gifts tax rates than in other European countries make Switzerland a jurisdiction of choice for inheritance tax planning opportunities. Swiss international law permits foreigners who live in Switzerland to stipulate that their will should be governed by the inheritance law of their home country.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

DIRECT & INDIRECT TAXES

Switzerland levies both direct and indirect taxes.

Direct taxes are levied by the Federal State (Direct Federal Tax) and by the cantons and/or municipalities. Direct Federal Tax is governed by the Direct Federal tax Act, whereas Cantonal/communal tax is levied pursuant to the cantonal law of the canton concerned. Although Switzerland has been undergoing a reform of its tax system with the aim of harmonizing the foundations of the cantonal tax systems, cantonal tax laws still vary from one canton to another, especially with respect to the applicable tax rates.

Indirect taxes include in particular VAT, based on the EU model but with significantly lower rate.

Individuals and corporations resident in Switzerland are normally subject to tax on their worldwide income and assets, respectively on their worldwide profit and equity.

Persons not resident in Switzerland may under certain circumstances be subject to limited taxation on certain Swiss source income.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

TAX INCENTIVES & PRIVILEGED TAX REGIMES

Although the average Swiss tax rates are lower overall than in most European countries, Switzerland offers a great variety of tax incentives or privileged tax regimes.

An especially attractive form of relief applicable to individuals is available to these who wish to take up tax domicile in Switzerland for the first time or after a period of absence of at least 10 years, without engaging in any gainful activity in Switzerland (Lump-sum taxation).

Another general relief granted to individual Swiss residents is the tax exemption of capital gains derived from the sale of private assets, except on the sale of Swiss property. Swiss tax laws have introduced numerous tax incentives for corporations in the form of tax holidays for newly established companies for up to 10 years, cantonal/communal profit tax exemption for certain types of companies (holding privilege), Significant tax cuts may also be obtained for corporations not performing business activities within Switzerland or for other special-purpose corporations, such as research, management, or auxiliary corporations. Those incentives will be presented in more detail hereafter.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

TAX INCENTIVES AVAILABLE TO CORPORATIONS

The following survey is aimed at providing a general overview of tax privileges granted by Switzerland to certain categories of enterprises or revenues. It should not be regarded as exhaustive. Indeed, each privilege may be combined with other instruments resulting in a lower tax burden. Further, even if relatively clearly defined in the tax legislation, special tax regimes are often granted in the form of tailor-made tax rulings to be negotiated with the competent tax authorities.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

INTER-COMPANY DIVIDENDS

Qualifying dividends received by a Swiss corporation from Swiss or foreign subsidiaries are tax exempt, for Direct Federal as well as cantonal/communal tax purposes (so called participation or holding relief). Moreover, for the purpose of the Direct Federal tax and in most of the cantons, capital gains on the sale of qualifying holdings may also be received tax-free.

Participation relief is available for the following income:

  • Revenues from participation where the Swiss company owns at least 20% of the other company or where the value of its participation exceeds 2 million Swiss Francs (with some exceptions).
  • Capital gains derived from the transfer of qualifying participations. Qualifying participations in this instance are holdings of at least 20% of another company (the alternative 2 million Swiss Francs value test is not applicable).

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

HOLDING COMPANY TAX STATUS

This status is only available at cantonal/communal level. It is ruled in the Tax Harmonization Law (THL) and hence available in all cantons. Nonetheless, as THL does not provide for detailed taxation rules, many differences remain between the cantons.

Holding companies are fully exempted from cantonal/communal tax on profit. This exemption benefits not only income from participation as defined above, but all other earnings received by the company, such as interest and royalties. Income deriving from Swiss real estate is excluded from this privilege and is taxable in most cantons. Capital tax is levied at very low rates in most of the cantons (between 0,00001% and 0,005%).

In order for a company to qualify as a holding company for the purpose of taxation, generally two tests must be met:

Activity tests:

  • (i) the main purpose of the company must hold and manage long-term financial investments in affiliated companies
  • (ii) in every case, the company should not engage in a commercial activity (e.g.: construction, manufacturing/trading of goods) in Switzerland.

It should be mentioned that cantonal interpretations of the above tests are inconsistent, which gives rise to tax-saving opportunities. Some cantons permit holding companies to finance, hold, manage and make the most of Intellectual property (IP). Holding companies may further undertake financing activities, as well as (according to certain commentators), commercial activities abroad.

Assets test/Income test: either 2/3rds of the company’s total assets must consist of investments in affiliates or 2/3rds of its total income must be derived from investments in affiliates.

Requirements as regards the kind of investment as well as the importance of the holding vary from canton to canton.

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SERVICE COMPANY TAX STATUS

Service companies generally provide technical, administrative or scientific assistance, including research and promotional services to related companies. As services are mainly rendered to group companies, it is often difficult to determine whether transactions take place at arm’s length or whether profits are being improperly accumulated in a low tax jurisdiction.

Service companies do not really benefit from a privileged tax status, but are merely subject to specific rules with respect to the determination of their taxable profit, these rules being sometimes suitable for tax strategies. As a rule, taxable profit must correspond at least to 5% of the expenses incurred by the company. Nonetheless, taxpayers may demonstrate that in spite of a margin lower than 5%, services are rendered at arm’s length prices.

In practice, the specific rules governing the taxation of service companies are set forth in an advance ruling granted by the cantonal tax authority, being specified that the actual regime may vary from canton to canton.

The service company tax regime is available at the cantonal/communal as well as at the federal level. It may be advantageous and used in tax planning where the actual margin of the business is superior to 5%.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

DOMICILIARY COMPANY TAX STATUS

A domiciliary company is a company which carries out only administrative functions in Switzerland and no business activities. Outside Switzerland an auxiliary, such a company, may conduct any activities whatsoever. Auxiliary regime is only available at the cantonal/ communal level and varies from canton to canton. An advance ruling setting forth the concrete taxation of a company must be negotiated with the local tax authorities.

Revenues and expenses of domiciliary companies are split among different categories, each subject to different taxation rules. Auxiliary companies’ tax regime may be summarized as follows:

  • Income from qualifying participations – such as dividends, capital gains and reevaluation gains – is tax-exempt;
  • Only a portion of income from abroad is subject to Swiss tax, depending on the mportance of the administrative function in Switzerland at ordinary income tax rates. In practical terms, foreign source income is generally between 70% and 90% cantonal/communal tax exempt, the rest being taxable at ordinary rates.
  • Other Swiss source income is fully taxable at ordinary income tax rate.
  • Most of the cantons levy capital tax on the equity of auxiliary companies at very low rates.
    • As a result of the different tax burden saddling each category of income, a domiciliary company should keep its books in a manner making it possible to proceed to the split. As a rule, expenditures are deductible from the revenues they are economically connected with.

      We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

MIXED COMPANY TAX STATUS

This tax regime is very similar to the domiciliary company tax privilege. It is available to companies carrying out administrative functions in Switzerland, whereby commercial activities are tolerated to the extent that they do not exceed 20% to 30% of the company’s income.

Some cantons require that the 20% to 30% benchmark also be fulfilled on the expense side (i.e., Swiss business expenses of such a company shall not exceed 20% to 30% of total expenses). Outside Switzerland a company with the mixed company tax privilege may conduct any activity. If a company meets the above criteria, it may apply for a tax ruling entitling it to a fiscal treatment similar to the one shown above for domiciliary companies. However, as additional commercial activities are conducted in Switzerland, the exemption of foreign source income subject to Swiss tax is normally lower than in the case of domiciliary companies.

As is the case for other privileges, the conditions to qualify as a mixed company vary from canton to canton. The grant of a mixed company tax status is normally subject to an advance ruling to be negotiated with the local tax authorities.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

TAX INCENTIVES AVAILABLE TO INDIVIDUALS

As mentioned above, there are two main tax incentives available to individual taxpayers.

Firstly, capital gains on the sale of privately held assets are in principle free of Swiss taxes Federal, cantonal, communal.

Secondly, certain Swiss residents may apply for a taxation based on expenses rather than on actual income.

The following report is mainly concerned with the conditions set for a foreigner wishing to benefit from the taxation on expenses. As such a taxation scheme is subject to the applicant taking up residence in Switzerland, conditions applicable to a foreign citizen intending to settle in Switzerland will be briefly addressed.

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TAXATION OF CAPITAL GAINS

Capital gains on personal movable property are normally tax-exempt. An exception is made for capital gains on the transfer of real estate, which are subject to a special cantonal/communal tax. On the other hand, capital gains – on movable and/or immovable property -, which are the result of a business activity as opposed to the management of personal wealth are taxable items.

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LUMP SUM TAXATION (TAX ON EXPENSES)

Two conditions must be met in order for a person to be eligible for the lump-sum taxation regime: (i.) The person must take up residence in Switzerland either for the first time or after having lived for more than 10 years abroad and (ii.) said person must not engage in business activities in Switzerland.

For persons who are not Swiss citizens, taking up of residence in Switzerland inevitably requires a residence permit. As regards respective requirements, a distinction must be made between EU citizens and citizens of non-EU countries.

EU-nationals’ residence and work permits are largely governed by the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between Switzerland and the EU, which entered into force on June 1st, 2002. According to the new regulations, EU nationals have the right to reside and work in Switzerland. They must be treated in a non-discriminatory manner.

Residents who do not engage in employment or who are self-employed must demonstrate sufficient funds and health insurance. EU nationals may stay in Switzerland up to three months without any residence permit. Thereafter, they must submit an application to the cantonal authorities.

As regards non-EU citizens, permits may be issued to foreigners who do not intend to carry on gainful activity in Switzerland.

Under current lump-sum taxation rules, Swiss taxes are levied at ordinary rates on an amount of deemed income, which is equivalent to the total taxpayer’s yearly cost of living expenses (“tax on expense”). In principle, the relevant expenses are deemed to correspond to five times the yearly rent (or rental value, if the taxpayer owns his or her place of residence) of the Swiss home. In practice, the aforementioned amount is agreed upon with the local tax authorities before taking up residence in Switzerland. It should be noted that taxpayers deriving Swiss source income and/or income for which double taxation relief is claimed are subject to specific rules. As a rule, cantonal/communal wealth tax is levied.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

DOUBLE TAX TREATIES

As mentioned above, Switzerland usually levies a 35% withholding tax on certain types of passive income, such as dividends and interest, derived from Switzerland. Nevertheless, Switzerland has concluded over 90 DTT with all important industrial countries and numerous eastern European countries. Most of the Swiss DTT follow the Model Tax Convention for the avoidance of double taxations elaborated by the OECD. As a rule, taxpayers entitled to the benefit from a DTT, which provides for a Swiss tax inferior to 35%, may claim for the refund of withholding tax paid in excess. The unrecoverable Swiss withholding tax is shown in table 2.

In this respect, it should be emphasized that Switzerland is currently renegotiating its DTT with many EU countries in order to implement the EU Council Directive of 23 July 1990 on the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States in its DTT network.

Table 2: Non recoverable Swiss withholding tax on dividends and interest per DTT. The following table provides an overview of non-recoverable Swiss withholding tax on income from Swiss source paid to foreign recipients (few examples). It should be emphasized that Switzerland has concluded a very large number of DTT with other countries. Non-recoverable taxes are expressed as a percentage of the gross income to be paid by the Swiss debtor of the taxable attribution.

Qualifying Participation Interest Royalties
Belgium 0 % to 10 % 0 % to 10 % Nil
Bulgaria 0 % to 5 % 0 % to 10 % Nil
Canada 0 % to 5 % 0 % to 10 % Nil
Czech Republic 0 % to 5 % 0 % Nil
France 0 % 0 % Nil
Germany 0 % 0 % Nil
United Kingdom 0 % 0 % Nil
Hungary 0 % to 10 % 0 % to 10 % Nil
Republic of Ireland 0 % 0 % Nil
Kazakhstan 0 % to 5 % 0 % to 10 % Nil
Kyrgystan 0 % to 5 % 0 % to 5 % Nil
Lithuania 0 % to 5 % 0 % to 10 % Nil
Poland 0 % to 15 % 0 % to 10 % Nil
Portugal 0 % to 10 % 0 % to 10 % Nil
Romania 0 % to 15 % 0 % to 5 % Nil
Slovak Republic 0 % to 15 % 0 % to 5 % Nil
Slovenia 0 % to 5 % 0 % to 5 % Nil
Spain 0 % 0 % Nil

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Business Set-up Procedures

CORPORATE FORMS

The business entities in Switzerland are governed by the Civil Code. At Federal Level, businesses are domiciled in a particular canton. Each canton maintains a Commercial Register (Registre du Commerce/Handelsregister), and the mandatory entries in the Register of subscribers, directors, capital structure etc. have strict legal force. The Register is a public document.

Although the company name of many be freely chosen, it must be different from already existing ones.

The forms of business entity which may be formed are:

  1. Société anonyme (SA) /Aktiengesellschaft (AG) / Company Limited by Shares (Ltd),
  2. Limited liability companies (LLC) / Société à Responsabilité Limitée (Sàrl)/ Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (GmbH)
  3. Partnership and its variants (Societe en Commandite, Société en Nom Collectif).

The last legal form is not much used by foreign investors. General Partnerships (Societe en Nom Collectif) and Sole Proprietorships (Raison de Commerce) are also possible. The public and private limited companies are on the contrary the most widespread forms of international business organization.

All companies trading in Switzerland must be registered in the Register of commerce of the district where their registered office or place of business is located.

For more information on Swiss on companies and entities follow the links below:

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COMPANIES LIMITED BY SHARES (LTD/SA/AG)

A Company limited by shares, hereinafter SA/AG, is a legal entity formed with a registered share capital and its own corporate name. The formation of the AG requires the presence, in person or by proxy, of one or more founder(s) at the founders' meeting, in order to effect the adoption of the articles of incorporation, the election of the members of the board of directors and the auditors, and further resolutions. The resolutions of the meeting are embodied in a public deed of formation which, together with the articles of incorporation, is submitted to the register of commerce. The incorporation is completed with the entry of the AG into the register of commerce.

The minimum share capital is CHF 100,000. On the day of the formation of the company, the fully paid share capital must be deposited on a special account with an officially authorized depository bank. At least 20 percent of the share capital represented by registered shares or at least CHF 50,000 must be paid up upon constitution; bearer shares must be paid in full. A contribution in kind is subject to a special report by the founders, which needs to be confirmed by the auditors.

The share capital can be divided into bearer or registered shares of a minimum par value of CHF 0.1 each.

Bearer shares may be transferred by way of assignment, or, if certificates are issued, by physical transfer. Registered share certificates must be endorsed, and the transfer of registered shares must be entered in the company's share ledger.

The shareholders' meeting may amend the articles of incorporation, elect and discharge the board members and internal auditors, approve the balance sheet and profit-and-loss statement and declare dividends.

There are generally no restrictions with respect to the nationality of the shareholders. However, at least one of the company's directors must be resident in Switzerland. The liability of shareholders is limited to the amount of the subscribed share capital.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY (LLC/Sàrl/Gmbh)

The limited liability company may be formed by one or more individuals or entities. The formation procedure for a Sàrl/GmbH is similar to the incorporation procedure for a SA/AG. Both require the execution of a public deed of formation by all founders. Such public deed, including the articles of incorporation, must be submitted to the register of commerce for the company's registration. Upon registration with the register of commerce, the company is incorporated.

The registered share capital of the company must amount to at least CHF 20,000. The share capital is divided into fixed quotas, and each member participates in the company's capital with one quota corresponding to the individual capital contribution. The documents issued to the members for the quotas serve as a documentary proof and are not negotiable instruments. Any transfer of a quota requires a notarized deed and becomes effective only once the register of commerce has been notified and has registered the transfer.

Each member holds one vote per CHF 1,000 contribution.

The management of the company may be conferred to non-members.

There are no restrictions with respect to the nationality of the members. Members are jointly liable for the company's debts up to the registered capital amount.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

EXPERTISE & FOCUS

OVERVIEW OF OUR BUSINESS SERVICES

Having a Swiss Company is a real opportunity in terms of profit optimization, while also providing a stable platform with high quality image.

The office of OCRA (Switzerland) Sàrl has been specially established to serve you with a strong position in the centre of a country that manages almost 35% of the world private and institutional funds.

Switzerland is most renowned for its financial, political and social stability as well as its peaceful, prosperous and modern market economy. Businessmen and entrepreneurs have here the perfect alternative to protect their wealth and interests with a long term security.

Having a Swiss company or a structure based on a Swiss company is more than a financial choice. It is in many cases a strategic decision that gives the best way to create a better image of your products or services, a legal ground to take advantage from expansion driven taxation system and a perfect platform for trading or international services.

Our office experts incorporate and administer Swiss companies or more complex international structures based on Swiss companies for corporate groups and private individuals over the world.

We spend the needed time to understand your request and objectives and we give you the exact and precise information regarding the financial aspects of your project so that you have the full security of the proposed solutions. Our professionalism will ensure the full integrity of our relation.

Our services include:

  • Free initial consulting meeting
  • Turnkey solutions based on your requests and objectives
  • Incorporation and management of Swiss companies
  • Incorporation and management of foreign companies
  • Creation and administration of Foundations and Trusts
  • Company secretarial services
  • Company administration services
  • Office services (address, telephone, fax, mail)
  • Swiss or EU VAT administration
  • Accounting, financial & tax reporting
  • Activation and management of Double Tax Treaties

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

SWISS HOLDING COMPANY

The Swiss Holding Company is an entity where the purpose and main activity is to manage long-term financial investments in affiliated companies. It may not be actively engaged in other forms of business.

Dividends received and capital gains qualify for participation exemption and are therefore not subject to income tax. Due to the high number of favourable international tax treaties and the international presence and image of Switzerland, the Swiss Holding Company is an ideal and secure tool for the consolidation of worldwide investments and participation.

For more information on Swiss Holdings click here.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

SWISS SERVICE COMPANY

A Swiss Service Company is a company that provides management, technical, marketing, financial or administrative assistance to a larger group of foreign companies of which it is a part. Competitiveness of infrastructure and quality of services makes this form of Swiss company the perfect inter-group platform.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

SWISS DOMICILIARY COMPANY

A domiciliary company is a company which carries out only administrative functions in Switzerland and no business activities. Outside Switzerland such a company may conduct any activities whatsoever.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

SWISS MIXED COMPANY

A Mixed company is a company which carries out administrative functions in Switzerland with commercial activities that do not exceed 20% to 30% of the company’s income. Outside Switzerland a Mixed company may conduct any activity.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

SWISS FINANCIAL COMPANY

The most common types of Swiss Financial Companies are Intra-group Financial Management Companies, Asset Management Companies and Financial Trading Companies - each one with its own regulatory framework. Institutional clients can avail themselves of our expertise in order to best define and implement their presence in Switzerland.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

TAILOR-MADE ADVISORY SERVICES

The extensive experience and commitment of our professional team will provide you with tailor-made, high quality consultancy to help you understand and analyse every aspect of a Swiss structure in terms of finance, taxes, operation, laws and reputation.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

SWISS COMPANIES INCORPORATION

We take care of all aspects of the establishment of Swiss companies from our office and provide any required service in order to have a fully operative company.

These services may include:

  • Provision of Swiss resident professional directors
  • Provision of a registered address for the company
  • Public notarial deed of establishment of the company
  • Inscription in the commercial registry
  • Establishment of a bank account for the company
  • Preparation of legal documentation

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

TOTAL MANAGEMENT SERVICES

Our experienced staff will provide comprehensive management services to your company to meet all statutory and legal obligations, ensuring the entity remains fully operational and up-to-date. These services may include:

  • Registered address
  • Provision of professional resident director
  • On-going legal and administrative maintenance
  • Bank introductions
  • Financial management
  • Trade finance
  • Accounting & Bookkeeping
  • Virtual office services
  • Tax advice
  • Accounting
  • Financial declarations
  • Activation and management of double tax treaty planning

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

TRANSFER OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES

With a network of 20 offices around the world, we provide you with the security of having your company structured and maintained in accordance with active legislation and regulation For individual and/or corporate clients who may be dissatisfied with their current administrators, or for clients who wish to consolidate their corporate activities, our experienced Corporate Service Managers can arrange for a smooth transition of administration to OCRA (Switzerland) Sàrl.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

SWISS TRUSTEES & TRUST SERVICES

Since July 1st 2007, qualified and regulated financial intermediaries like OCRA (Switzerland) Sàrl can offer full trustee services from Switzerland, to their international clients.

The century-long tradition of stability and integrity has made Switzerland one of the jurisdictions of choice for succession plans and asset protection, through Swiss trustees.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

SWISS FOUNDATIONS

Switzerland has the highest density of foundations in Europe. It hosts about 13,000 foundations (humanitarian, educational, health, etc.) and provides a large degree of autonomy in the issuance of the by-laws of the foundation.

Similar to a trust, a private or corporate foundation is a method of allocating assets for a particular purpose. Contrary to a trust, a foundation becomes a legal entity and is the legal owner of the assets.

We would welcome the opportunity to assist you with more information. Call us direct +41 21 643 10 26 or make contact now for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

MEET THE TEAM

We would welcome the opportunity of being able to assist you with your personal wealth management. Please feel free to contact any of our key team members listed below for a free explanatory discussion without obligation.

Magali Malvarez - MANAGING DIRECTOR

Magali Malvarez is the Managing Director of OCRA (Switzerland) Sàrl. Magali has a Swiss bachelor’s degree in business and she specialises in the management and administration of Swiss and foreign corporations. She administers a portfolio of high net-worth individuals who engage in international trade and investment activities worldwide.

T: +41 21 643 10 26
F: +41 21 643 10 27
E: malvarez@ocra.com

BROCHURES & DOWNLOADS

Download the following PDF documents for reference:

SWITZERLAND INFORMATION DOWNLOADS

Swiss AG/SL/LTD Companies Swiss GmbH/Sàrl/LLC Companies
Visit our Offshore Knowledge Base on ocra.com for information on over 90 other key jurisdictions

BROCHURE DOWNLOADS

WATCH OUR VIDEOS

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NOT SURE WHAT YOU NEED?

Email us your requirements and receive a Free Explanation or call +41 21 643 10 26.

One of our consultants will contact you directly to assist you with your requirements.

Please Note:
Completed Questionnaires and Order Forms should be sent to ocrach@ocra.com

NEW CLIENTS

Download the relevant questionnaire below if this is the first time you are applying for our services:

EXISTING CLIENTS

Download the relevant Order Form below if you are an existing client with a repeat order, an intermediary, or if you have a detailed understanding of your requirements.

Switzerland Company Order Form
Interactive PDF
View a List of Available Shelf Companies Here
View Order Forms for other Jurisdictions Here

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The OCRA Worldwide group has established over 200,000 companies and trusts onshore and offshore worldwide. Our policy is clear. All queries are taken seriously and you would be answered individually by an experienced client services director in STRICT professional confidence.
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CONTACT US

OCRA (Switzerland) Sàrl
Place St François 12 bis
1003 Lausanne
Switzerland

T: +41 21 643 10 26
F: +41 21 643 10 27
E: ocrach@ocra.com

Languages Spoken: English, French, Italian, Spanish

Time in Switzerland is:

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the details contained herein are correct and up-to-date, it does not constitute legal or other professional advice. OCRA Worldwide does not accept any responsibility, legal or otherwise, for any errors or omission.