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The Swiss commercial registry: Obligations & costs for entrepreneurs

Updated on May 02, 2024

Most young entrepreneurs must eventually deal with the commercial registry. Zürcher Treuhand is here to make the process and legal foundations understandable for you.

What is the purpose of the commercial registry?

Starting a business involves significant administrative effort, including registration in the commercial registry. The commercial registry contains the majority of all Swiss companies and ensures that basic information is publicly accessible. Business partners, authorities, and customers can inquire about the company's purpose, its founding, and its location, which promotes trust and transparency.

The commercial registry in Switzerland is decentralized and managed mainly by the cantons. In total, there are 28 commercial registry offices: three of them in the canton of Valais and one in each of the other cantons and half-cantons.

Do I have to register my company in the commercial registry?

For many entrepreneurs, registration in the commercial registry is legally required, mainly depending on your new company's legal form. Registration is obligatory for:

  • Sole proprietorships with an annual turnover of more than CHF 100,000
  • Corporations (AG)
  • Limited liability companies (GmbH)
  • General and limited partnerships
  • Foundations (except religious and family foundations)
  • Cooperatives
  • Branches of companies
  • Associations that are commercially managed

Please note: There are some exceptions based on profession – professions such as independent doctors, engineers, and artists may be exempt from the registration requirement in the commercial registry. To be on the safe side, Zürcher Treuhand clarifies the registration obligation in personal consultation with you – contact us now.

Why voluntary registration in the commercial registry is worth it

Although registration in the commercial registry is optional for sole proprietorships with an annual turnover under CHF 100,000, it is often recommended. Registered companies benefit from increased visibility and a protected company name (only within the municipality of the company's headquarters). The registration also allows you to sign contracts, such as lease agreements, in the company's name instead of your own as a private individual.

The commercial registry also informs the AHV (social security) and tax authorities about the registration, leading to automatic recording and billing of taxes and AHV contributions, thus reducing administrative effort.

The disadvantages of registering in the commercial registry include the costs, and fees are incurred again for any adjustments, such as changing the address or the owner. Moreover, the registered sole proprietorship is subject to bankruptcy proceedings, meaning that in the event of bankruptcy, all of the company's assets can be used to settle debts.

Necessary information for the commercial registry

The following information is mandatory for your company's entry in the commercial registry:

  • Company name
  • Business purpose
  • Year of establishment
  • Names of board members, shareholders, managing directors, authorized signatories
  • Company headquarters: the municipality where the main administration is located
  • Capital information

Additionally, every corporation (AG), limited liability company (GmbH), or cooperative must register an auditing body or indicate the waiver of an auditing body in the commercial registry.

What does registration in the commercial registry cost?

The costs of registration in the commercial registry vary depending on the company form. The costs for initial registration (basic fee) are:

  • Sole proprietorship: CHF 80
  • Corporation (AG): CHF 420
  • Limited liability company (GmbH): CHF 420
  • Limited partnership/general partnership: CHF 160
  • Foundation: CHF 210
  • Cooperative: CHF 280
  • Association: CHF 280

The cantons use these basic fees, followed by additional costs for all personnel-data. For a sole proprietorship, the total registration costs are generally at least CHF 120, but the significant factor is your personal time and effort.

The registration process itself is as follows:
You submit the required documents to the responsible cantonal commercial registry office. This application must be signed by all registered individuals, and all signatures must be officially authenticated.

Afterward, the commercial registry office checks the documents for completeness and fulfilled legal requirements. The authority informs you of any errors and gives you the opportunity to correct them.

Once all registration documents are complete and compliant, your company is entered into the cantonal commercial registry. After approval of the entry, the federal office grants consent within one to two working days and arranges for publication in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce.

Zürcher Treuhand takes care of your company formation

Starting a new company is turbulent and involves endless paperwork. To help you efficiently focus on the main business, Zürcher Treuhand provides personal consultation for your company, from the commercial registry entry to accounting, insurance, and tax matters. Contact us today for a goal-oriented partnership.

Oliver Diggelmann

Contact me now for a personal consultation!

Zürcher Treuhand is your trustworthy and reliable financial partner.

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The Swiss commercial registry: Obligations & costs for entrepreneurs

Most young entrepreneurs must eventually deal with the commercial registry. Zürcher Treuhand is here to make the process and legal foundations understandable for you.

Oliver Diggelmann

Do you have questions? Get in touch with me, I am happy to help.

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