EXPLAINED: How to register as self-employed in Switzerland

Katherine Price
Katherine Price - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: How to register as self-employed in Switzerland
How to register as self-employed in Switzerland? Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

If you already have the right to live in Switzerland and are looking to go freelance, registering as self-employed is usually a straightforward process.


Swiss residents and most EU/EFTA nationals can register as self-employed by applying through their cantonal compensation office.

You aren’t required to register immediately, as you will be asked for proof of self-employment such as invoices and marketing materials, but it is recommended to do so within a few months to become officially recognised.

Once your compensation office has verified your self-employed status, you can then contact your local migration office to register your self-employed status.

The process differs depending on where you live, however you’re likely to be asked to provide the following during the process:

  • Identity card or passport
  • Invoices and contracts for services
  • Bank statements
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Advertising/marketing materials
  • Confirmation of registration with the compensation office

If your permit is dependent on a partner, for instance, they may be asked to sign a letter confirming your address. If your application is approved, you will be issued a renewable five-year B permit.

If your annual turnover is more than 100,000 francs, you must also register for VAT and enter your company on the commercial register.


Those from a non-EU/EFTA country may be required to hold a C permit or be the spouse of a C permit holder or Swiss citizens to apply to be self-employed. Otherwise, you may need to apply with the canton and provide more information about your business to prove you meet stricter Swiss labour market requirements.

Being a citizen of a ‘third-country’ (non-EU/EFTA) doesn’t exclude you from setting up a business in Switzerland, but conditions for doing so are stricter as you must demonstrate that your self-employment will have a positive impact on the Swiss labour market and is in overall economic interest.

As a result, you may be asked to provide a business plan and an analysis of the market, as well as planned investments and forecasts for turnover and profit.


There are also rules and processes you should be aware of when filing your first tax return as a self-employed person in Switzerland, such as social security contributions, setting off depreciation and amortisation costs, and deductible interest.

Useful resources:


#Working in Switzerland


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