Business License in Switzerland

Business License in Switzerland

A business licence in Switzerland is a licence issued by a government authority that allows companies or individuals to operate a business within a specific country’s government’s power. The licence is issued by the local government and it is an approval to start business.

Before you apply for a business licence you would definitely need to register a company. The type of company that you register will depend on the type of business that you want to operate. Some of the options of the types of companies are –

  • The stock corporation – This is a well-known company structure in Switzerland. This type of company requires that at least one shareholder and one director stays in Switzerland. It must have a minimum paid up capital of 100,000 Swiss francs (CHF). This type of company takes about 2 to 3 weeks to incorporate.
  • Limited liability company – For this type of company structure, there must be a minimum of 2 shareholders. It’s more suited for a smaller corporation as it requires a minimum paid up capital of only 20,000 CHF.
  • Partnerships – There are basically 3 types of partnerships that can be incorporated in Switzerland. They are the sole proprietorship, the general partnership and the limited partnership.

Business licence requirement in Switzerland

Normally for companies registered in Switzerland, the requirement for a business licence is necessary only for certain businesses. When you register a company, it will usually include a general business licence. There are some types of companies that require a business or operating licence. They are –

  • Banking – A licence from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) is required. This is of course subject to the requirements of FINMA being met.
  • Insurance – This business also requires a licence from FINMA. They must also meet the requirements set by the authority.
  • Opening a Transport business
  • Opening a recruitment agency
  • Opening a hotel or restaurant business – If you intend to open a hotel or a restaurant business in Switzerland, you would need a retail permit.
  • Opening a business selling liquor – You would need to obtain a licence from the Swiss Alcohol Board.
  • Opening a casino – For a casino business, you would need to have a permit from the Swiss Federal Gaming Board
  • Others – Lawyers, dentist, physicians and pharmacists must also obtain special licences before starting their business.

Below are some of the steps to obtaining business  licence in Switzerland for certain industries in more details.

Banking licence



Some of the criteria that must be met to obtain a banking business licence in Switzerland are –


  • Must have a minimum paid up capital of CHF 10 million
  • Must have a business plan to show compliance with the necessary adequacy ratio, risk diversification and liquidity rules can be ensured at all times.
  • Management of the bank must be from Switzerland
  • There must be effective separation of internal functions with regards to lending, asset management, trading and settlement.
  • All the necessary steps and precautions are taken for effective risk management.
  • Full details of the criteria and other relevant information can be obtained from FINMA’s.
Insurance licence



The basic requirements for an insurance company to acquire a business licence in Switzerland is stated in the Insurance Supervision Act (ISA). Some of the other criteria as required by FINMA are –


  • The company must have a legal company structure of either a limited company to a cooperative.
  • Must have a minimum paid up capital of CHF 3 to 20 million depending on the sector i.e. life, general, motor etc.
  • Must state the object of the company. This includes activities directly associated with insurance.
Casino licence



  • As stated above, if a company would like to operate a casino in Switzerland, a business licence in Switzerland must be obtained from the Swiss Federal Gaming Board (SFBG). The SFBG is also responsible for monitoring and enforcing the casinos, supervising and investigating violations of the gaming law.
  • The casino operator must first submit a written application to the Swiss Federal Council with a social plan.
  • The plan must show the economic benefit that a casino can bring to a certain state or canton in Switzerland. The appropriate canton and local community must also support the application.
  • The operator must then apply for an operating licence which is granted by the Federal Government but issued by the SFGB. The usual tenure of the licence is 20 years but it can be shorter or longer and is determined by the Federal Government. After the stipulated term and upon expiry of the licence, it can be renewed.
  • This licence is mainly for landed casinos. Online gambling and thus online casinos are illegal in Switzerland.
Licence for medical practitioners



  • The first step in to get your medical degree or qualification recognized by the authorities. This is done in Bern, Switzerland.
  • You would then need to get approval from the relevant medical authorities form the canton or state that you wish to practice.

Once you have secured the license, the next step is to become a member of the Swiss Medical Association. This is not compulsory although most of the medical practitioners are members of this association. You may want to know also about small business ideas in Switzerland.


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