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Open a Foundation in Switzerland

Updated on Tuesday 27th August 2019

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Open-a-Foundation-in-Switzerland.pngThe foundation is a legal concept that has been present on the Swiss market since the 14th century (taking the form of a charitable organization); however, the modern concept of a Swiss foundation is prescribed under the Civil Code of Switzerland. The Swiss foundation is generally used for a defined goal, which can be related to philanthropy or for a specific social goal
 
Since the foundation is not registered for developing commercial purposes, it has to comply with different regulations than the ones available for commercial vehicles. Our team of specialists in company formation in Switzerland can provide in-depth information on how to set up a Swiss foundation and can also assist in drafting its incorporation documents. 
 

What are the registration requirements for a Swiss foundation?

 
Any legal entity that is created in Switzerland has to be founded based on a statutory document. In the case of a Swiss foundation, the main statutory document is the authenticated deed, which can be signed in front of a public notary. When signing the statutory document, it is necessary to decide on the foundation’s goals, as they have to be clearly stipulated in this document. The following will apply:
 
  • in order to modify the foundation’s purposes, the founders have to request for permission from the authority regulating the activity of Swiss foundations;
  • the main supervisory authority in this case is the Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations;
  • as a general rule, the Swiss foundation must have a minimum share capital of CHF 50,000;
  • some of the registration requirements are similar with the ones available for commercial entities – for example, the foundation must be registered with the Trade Registry in order to gain legal personality;
  • any Swiss foundation must appoint a Foundation Council and an Audit Board.
 

What types of foundations can one register in Switzerland? 

 
The Swiss legislation on foundations stipulates that there are several types of foundations that can be registered in this country. Thus, Switzerland recognizes three main categories of foundations, as follows: family foundations and private foundations, foundations operating as pension funds or foundations set up for the benefit of the general public. Our team of consultants in Swiss company formation can advise on the characteristics of each type of foundation
 

What are the statistics on Swiss foundations? 

 
It is worth knowing that Switzerland is one of the most attractive markets for setting up a foundation. As a general rule, the Swiss foundations operate in areas such as leisure and culture, these being the most important activities, followed by social services, health, environment, education and research. There are also several Swiss foundations that have a religious purpose. Swiss foundations are characterized by the following: 
 
  • at the level of 2017, there were 13,129 charitable foundations operating in Switzerland;
  • in 2017, there were 364 new registrations of Swiss foundations;
  • Switzerland has one of the highest concentration of foundations at a global level (15,6 foundations per 10,000 persons);
  • in 2017, a large number of foundations were supervised at a federal level (of 4,362), which means that such organizations operated at a national level;
  • the total value of the assets held by foundations operating in Switzerland accounts for CHF 97,4 billion (measured for the last 5 years, up until 2017);
  • the assets of foundations that have an international scope accounted for CHF 40 billion in 2017. 
 

What are the benefits of a Swiss foundation? 

 
A Swiss foundation is set up with the purpose of aiding a specific type of group. It can be set up with for helping groups of people in need, but it can also be used as way of providing grants to sustain the business environment. Since it is registered with the goal of improving the general condition of the society, this structure benefits from certain tax exemptions. 
 
When opening a company in Switzerland, the commercial legislation stipulates that a business can be registered with 100% foreign ownership. The same is available for a Swiss foundation. The foundation can also qualify for a low tax system – for example, the corporate tax is applied at a rate of 4% in the case of family foundations
 
There is a full exemption on the payment of the corporate tax of a foundation, but this is applicable only if the structure is registered as an entity for the public benefit or as a non-profit foundation. Investors can receive more information on the taxation of a Swiss foundation from our specialists; we invite you to contact our team of consultants in company registration in Switzerland for any other inquiry related to this matter.  
 

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Paul Gheorghiu is one of our experienced company formation agents. He will help you register your company in Switzerland as fast as possible.
   
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Call us now at  +41 41 266 0070   to set up an appointment with our experts in Zug, Switzerland. As a Sig Fiduciaire client, you will beneficiate from the expertise of our local consultants for opening a company in Switzerland.
 

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