Doing business in Switzerland – what to look out for

The Swiss franc used to be something of a symbol of stability and reliability. It was so strong and stable that you could live like a king in the EU on a salary from Switzerland. In the meantime, its exchange rate has fallen somewhat, but we are still a country where outsiders like to do business. The reason for this is the general price level. EU companies can sell imports at a higher price than in their home country, thus increasing margins. All the more they try to gain entry into the market. We show what you should pay attention to.

Legal requirements

Switzerland is very closely linked to the EU by treaty. However, you should keep in mind that it is not a member state of the EU. Therefore, many European norms and regulations that you have become accustomed to in your home country do not apply. We recommend always having business activities legally checked before they start.

Free movement of persons

Since 2002, there has been an agreement with the EU that workers can look for a job here. Self-employed people can carry out their activities without any complications. However, they do not simply do so; they need a residence permit beforehand.


What many people are not quite aware of is that Switzerland is a multilingual country. In the west, there are several cantons where French is spoken. 22% of the citizens are French-speaking.

This means that if you want to become active in these regions, it is advisable to have a French translation agency on speed dial, so to speak. Documents, contracts or forms are always needed in a hurry.

Customs regulations

Switzerland is aware that there are countries around it where everything is cheaper – relatively speaking. For this reason, it tries to protect its economic interests by imposing customs duties. Please note that goods or services cannot simply be transported into the country without being checked at the borders. There are numerous legal questions to be clarified, appropriate documents are required and surcharges are levied.


Many rich people prefer Switzerland as a place of residence because they save taxes here. In fact, the local system is much more advantageous for high earners. There are different rules for deducting income-related expenses and the tax rates are also different.

Social security

Depending on the nature and duration of your activities, you may be subject to social security contributions. This happens mainly when a business activity is not only carried out for a short period of time. For example, if construction companies accept orders in Switzerland with their German employees, etc. Be sure to seek advice in this regard.