Switzerland Business Services Overview
up a business in Switzerland
Switzerland is a land of incredible variety. Picturesque medieval
villages and scenic mountains abound. The numerous lakes and rivers seem to
have a special sparkle. The cities, while relatively grand, blend charm and
comfortable human-scale settings. The rural scenes are perhaps the finest in
the Western world. History has given Switzerland little land, but nature has
blessed it with the most astonishing natural sights in Europe.
Undoubtedly one of the most attractive countries in the world to live in,
Switzerland offers individuals not only some of the best living standards in
the world, but also provides an unsurpassed infrastructure for companies
operating in the greater European area.
It is also one of the safest countries in the world. Swiss people are
law-abiding to a fault, rendering even the minimal police presence
superfluous. A recent survey also ranked the country among those with the
lowest level of corruption in the world.
Switzerland is Europe’s most mountainous country, with a large number of
ski resorts and villages in the mythic alpine regions.
The country comprises 26 cantons.
Although it does not belong to the European Union (UE), it is a full
member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Likewise, Switzerland
does not belong to the European Monetary System, yet it is a member of the
International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Switzerland is also a member of a number of international economic
organisations, including the United Nations (UN), the World Trade
Organization (WTO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Switzerland has borders with major EU countries, namely with Austria,
France, Germany, Italy as well as Liechtenstein. Major Swiss cities include
Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Lucerne, Lugano and Lausanne.
The diversity of the landlocked, mountainous country is the essence of
Switzerland and gives the country its unique identity. In Switzerland,
seasons are very distinct, with summers that are hot without being scorching
and winters that are cold enough to go skiing, but without extreme
Nature and leisure activities are among the most important aspects of
Swiss tourism. It goes without saying that Switzerland is one of the best
winter sports destinations in the world. Ski resorts of all grades,
facilities, atmospheres and costs cover the country. The best-known, such as
Zermatt, Crans-Montana, Verbier, St Moritz and Davos need no introduction.
Swimming and water-sports have big followings at all the lakeside
resorts, and almost everywhere, water is clean. Boats and equipment for
windsurfing are available for rent on almost all lakes. Rowing, canoeing,
walking, skating and other healthy pursuits are also popular.
Switzerland’s gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to be CHF 322.3
billion (2005 estimation) with CHF 28,165 of the GDP per capita.
A high degree of political and monetary stability as well the central
location of the country are the major factors of the economical appeal of
Switzerland whose economy is on of the most productive in the world. The
political system of the country is free of bureaucracy. The labour force of
the country is highly educated and dynamic.
Switzerland is one of the world’s major financial centres. Swiss banking
network is one of the most highly developed in the world. In 1998, around
3.9% of the economically active population in Switzerland was working in the
finance and banking industry. The Electronic Stock Exchange in Zurich is
Europe's third largest, based on the value of equity trading.
An important aspect of the Swiss banking system is its tradition of
banking secrecy, which is protected by law. Any violation of bank secrecy
automatically gives rise to criminal proceedings. Bank secrecy is an
expression of the importance given to the protection of the individual’s
private affairs. Consequently, as a rule, banks are not required nor are
they permitted to give any information to the tax authorities. However,
banking secrecy is not absolute as it can in particular be lifted in the
scope of criminal proceedings.
The main strength of the Swiss finance centre is the asset management and
investment advisory services. The total funds under management in
Switzerland currently amount to roughly 2.800 billion Swiss Francs. About 50
% of that impressive sum is owned by foreign clients.
In addition, Switzerland is highly industrial country with the following
major industries: machinery, pharmaceutics, chemical manufacture,
high-technology and precision instruments.
The freight forwarding, insurance and tourism are another significant
part of the country’s economy.
Back to top
Switzerland is a federal state composed of 26 following cantons: Aargau,
Appenzell Ausser-Rhoden, Appenzell Inner-Rhoden, Basel-Landschaft,
Basel-Stadt, Bern, Fribourg, Geneve, Glarus, Graubunden, Jura, Luzern,
Neuchatel, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Sankt Gallen, Schaffhausen, Schwyz,
Solothurn, Thurgau, Ticino, Uri, Valais, Vaud, Zug and Zurich.
The cantons retain some attributes of sovereignty, such as fiscal
autonomy and the right to manage internal cantonal affairs. Under the 2000
Constitution, cantons hold all powers not specifically delegated to the
The primary seat of power is the bicameral Swiss parliament, the Federal
Assembly, which has two houses – the Council of State and the National
Council, both having equal powers in all respect, including the right to
introduce the legislation. The Council of state consists of 46 members who
are directly elected in each canton by majority voting. The National Council
consists of 200 members also elected in each canton but under the system of
proportional representation. Members of both houses serve for 4 years.
Through referenda, citizens may challenge any law voted by federal
parliament and through initiatives introduce amendments to the federal
constitution, making Switzerland a direct democracy.
All citizens of 18 or older have the right to vote and run for office in
national, cantonal, and communal elections.
The top executive body and collective Head of State is the Federal
Council, a collegial body of seven members elected by the Federal Assembly
for 4-year terms. The President of the Confederation is elected from the
seven to assume special representative functions for one year.
While the substantive law of Switzerland is mostly federal, civil
procedure law is cantonal. Each canton has its own code of civil procedure.
The organisation of courts vary from one canton to another. However, some
basic rules of civil procedure are applicable in all cantons.
As a rule, each canton's procedural code provides for two court levels,
the courts of first instance and the courts of appeal.
Most cantonal codes of civil procedure also provide for a court of
cassation, which can cancel judgments issued by lower courts. Some civil
procedure laws provide special courts for commercial, lease and labour
The highest court of Switzerland is the Federal Supreme Court in
Lausanne. The function of the Federal Supreme Court is to hear appeals of
cantonal courts of the administrative rulings of the federal administration.
The judges of the Federal Court are elected by the Federal Assembly for
The Federal Parliament formally enacts Swiss federal laws. Under the
Federal Constitution, the cantons are given lawmaking competence, unless a
specific provision confers this power to the Federal Assembly. Areas of
federal control include matters of national interest such as defence and
foreign affairs, fiscal policies, and rail and postal services.
Swiss law is primarily statutory law. Constitutional provisions take
precedence over ordinary statutes and administrative regulations. Such
statutory law can be found in the federal and cantonal corpus juris.
Decisions of a court are not binding on other courts.
The private law primarily comprises civil law and the law of obligations.
Civil law, family law, estate and property law were codified at the federal
level in the Swiss Civil Code in 1907.
The law of obligations covers contract law, unjust enrichment (quasi
contracts), torts, partnerships, corporations and negotiable instruments. It
was codified in the Swiss Code of Obligations in 1881. These laws are issued
in German, French and Italian, but unofficial English translations are
Switzerland is a small country with approximately 41 284 sq km of land
and 7,48 million inhabitants. There are 4 national languages: German (65% of
the population), French (20%), Italian (7.5%) and Romansch, a Rhaeto-Roman
dialect spoken in parts of the Grisons (0.5%). English language is very
widespread and it is often used as a link between Switzerland's various
linguistic communities. Switzerland is extremely open culturally and
economically, and thus should have all the services a foreign language
speaker could possibly want.
Swiss quality enjoys worldwide recognition. It is the result of a good
educational system, a strong work ethic and co-operative industrial
relations. The country ranks among the top five globally in terms of
educational structures and enjoys high standards of education at all levels.
Public universities, which are mainly located in Lausanne, Geneva, Bern,
Basel, Zürich, St. Gall, Neuchâtel, and Fribourg, offer well regarded
advanced degrees and polytechnic universities are world known for their
research. In addition to the excellent Swiss public school system,
international curricula are available in most large towns.
Zurich, Geneva and Basel have international airports. They are efficient,
accessible and offer direct daily flights to all major European cities. A
reliable rail network links cities and towns throughout the country.