Sole proprietors that are obliged to register, however, must include the surname of the business owner in the trading name and the Register – for sole proprietors with a turnover below the registration threshold there are no such requirements.
Such individuals must also register for tax and social security contributions. Some occupations are regulated and may require special permits or licences. These include:
- Banks, insurance companies and investment brokers;
- Hotels and restaurants (although this will vary according to the canton);
- Doctors, dentists, pharmacists and lawyers;
- Some mercantile and services businesses (such as employment agencies and wine merchants).
Individuals must register for tax with the Federal Tax Administration, although if turnover exceeds CHF100,000 and they are therefore registered with the Commercial Register, then registration for tax happens automatically.
In general, any trading enterprise (with the exception of those under the turnover threshold for sole proprietors) is required by law to register in the Commercial Register. This protects the company name. Larger entities must indicate the legal form of the company in the name.
Details of the Commercial Register are published in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce (SOGC). Formation of a limited company normally takes up to 21 days, including registering the company, enrolling employees in the social insurance system and registering for VAT. There are a number of service providers that offer a full service to set up and incorporate a new company. As previously stated, once registered in the Commercial Register, an entity is automatically registered for income tax.
The threshold for VAT registration is CHF100,000 annual turnover (since January 2010; prior to that, it was CHF75,000), whether a sole proprietor or an incorporated business entity. Registration for VAT is through the Federal Tax Administration.