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EU Businesses working in Switzerland – how to make your project profitable, without being confronted with expensive fines once you are back home

EU Businesses working in Switzerland – how to make your project profitable, without being confronted with expensive fines once you are back home

Performing projects in Switzerland can be very interesting to international companies, especially since it’s generally well paid. However Switzerland is not a member of the European Union (EU) and therefore different rules apply.

People think that filling in the Electronic Notification Form for short term stays in the online Swiss system is sufficient to comply with all the rules and regulations.
What really happens is that your notification is not checked or authorized before you start your project.

And then, once you have started your project in Switzerland, the Swiss authorities (Inspection) will check if you are fully compliant with all the rules and regulations about wages, working hours, reimbursement of costs, etc.

Which means that if there is any discrepancy between what is required and what you have filled in in the Electronic Notification Form, not only will you have to pay high fines, even worse, your profit for the project could be reduced drastically and on top of that, the Swiss could ban your firm for any project in the following 3 years.

“So what you need is a specialist who knows all the different rules in the various cantons in Switzerland in order to help you to comply before you start your project in Switzerland.

If you would like to learn more about how you can make sure to make profit from your project in Switzerland without facing the risk of high fines, then you can apply for a no-cost ‘Swiss-Project-check’ Strategy Session with Edith Nordmann, our Switzerland and cross-border specialist.

To book your free “Swiss-Project-check” Strategy Session, send an email to or call us at
+31 20 800 64 00.

Getting a project in Switzerland for your business?

The good news is:

The European Single Market, consists of the “four freedoms”: the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labor. Although Switzerland is no member of the EU, it did sign a bilateral agreement with the European Parliament on the 21st of June 1999 about the “Freizügigkeit” permitting the free movement of goods, capital, services and labor between Switzerland and the EU.

The purpose of this agreement is to make it easier to travel, to stay in and to access the labor market for the provision of services. This is done by creating the same living and working conditions in the territory of the contracting parties as for their own citizens. This applies to both employees and self-employed persons.

The bad news is:

In order to get started in Switzerland, reports on the performance of work and license applications must be properly prepared and submitted. The information supplied at various Swiss websites seems adequate at first glance yet often proves insufficient. For example, choices must be made regarding non-web-based criteria, such as the categories in the Swiss collective agreements and the correct calculation of daily wages. This can be tricky and can easily lead to mistakes.

Unfortunately, the fines for not submitted or incorrect applications are high and may result in the elimination of the target profit margin.

“To prevent fines, it is wise to enlist our help at an early stage.

An important argument for this is that Edith Nordmann of ACG International is the most experienced service provider in the Netherlands for sending employees to Switzerland for the fulfilment of a contract. Thanks to her we have already helped many companies to handle this in a neat and correct way without running into fines.

What you as a EU Business owner should absolutely know before you offer your services in Switzerland.

We have seen many Dutch business owners who thought that they had cut a great deal in Switzerland. They checked the offer based on their actual salary costs and some additional costs for the hotels and the trip of their employees to Switzerland.

As they didn’t know which other costs they should have taken into consideration, at the end of the day, their profit was less than it would have been on a normal project in The Netherlands.

If they had known the rules upfront and if a specialist would have helped them calculate the real costs, they could have adapted their offer upfront, still get the project and could have made a nice profit.

Therefore it is important to (i) know the basic rules and (ii) hire a specialist who helps you apply for the necessary permits and make the correct calculations.

Here is some important information you should understand before applying for a Swiss project:

The “Freizügigkeitsabkommen” between Switzerland and the EU/EFTA does not directly grant permission for travel, stay and supplying services to Switzerland. There are certain requirements that must be met.

These requirements differ per service. A distinction is made between services within the framework of the agreement between the EU and Switzerland (the so-called “Dienstleistungsabkommen”) and services that fall outside this framework.

For services that fall within the scope of the “Dienstleistungsabkommen”, no license is required for the maximum duration of 3 consecutive months (or 90 working days). However, a notice must be filed (digitally); no later than 8 days before commencement of work at the competent authorities in Switzerland.

For services within the framework of the “Dienstleistungsabkommen”, which last longer than 3 months, you must have a license. This is called a “Kurzaufenthaltsbewilling”.
This is granted for the type of service and for the duration of the scheduled service for which you apply for the license. The application is made at one of the 26 Cantons (a kind of provinces). Each Canton has separate forms and rules. The application forms should preferably be completed in German (or French or Italian – depending on the Canton). English is not always allowed and if it is it does not make it easier to process.

Exceptions – Careful never cross these lines! The penalties are huge.

There are services that are not covered by the “Dienstleistungsabkommen”, namely construction, horticulture, hospitality, security, travel and eroticism. This means that these activities must be reported immediately.

When these activities last for more than 90 days, other legal requirements also apply. The admission of those activities and persons will then be assessed in accordance with the “Bundesgesetz über die Ausländerinnen und Ausländer” (AuG, SR 142.20). This includes a test of the labor market and a quota for the number of foreigners in that area who can perform these services in Switzerland (BVO, SR 823.21). If all conditions are met, a license will be granted for the duration of the project.

Health insurance – Don’t forget!

It is mandatory to take out a compatible health insurance policy for the duration of your work in Switzerland. This also applies to a short stay within the framework of the “Dienstleistungsabkommen”, for which no permit is required.

Work as Grenzgänger? A special category.

To fall under the definition of ‘Grenzgänger’, you must meet the following conditions: you live in the EU / EFTA, your employer has a (statutory) seat of the independent company in Switzerland and you return at least once a week to your residence within the EU / EFTA. You will then be entitled to occupational and geographical mobility throughout Switzerland.

A “Grenzgängerregelung” license is granted to a “Grenzgänger” who has an employment contract with a Swiss company for a period of 3 months to 1 year. When the employment is continued, the license may be renewed. With a minimum of 1 year contract, a 5-year “Grenzgängerbewilligung” is granted, with the employer being linked to the license. If you become unemployed as a “Grenzgänger”, you will not receive unemployment benefit in Switzerland. You must then fall back on the system of your country of residence.

Fines – If you don’t fully obey all Swiss requirements the fines can be much higher than your profit!

Working in Switzerland, both in employment and as a service provider, is therefore possible for the EU citizens. However, it is important that you – before starting such an adventure – know which rules to comply with and what legal and fiscal consequences such a choice has for you.

If your application is not properly prepared, this will be detected immediately upon inspection. The consequences of this vary by Canton and by sector. A fine of several thousand Euro is common as well as the charging of research costs. In some sectors access to further work may even be forbidden for several years. This is quite bothersome, especially when the cause is not intentional but mostly ignorance in the matter.

ACG International is specialized and experienced in assisting companies preparing the right requests in all of the Cantons, when calculating the required fees, by category breakdown, etc. In addition to long-term expertise, we also have permanent partners in Switzerland that can help you advise and support on the spot.

Switzerland is a small country – with 26 different regions (Cantons).They all have their own requirements in their own official language (German, French or Italian). Without the proper assistance when preparing your project, not only will you make mistakes with your application, calculation, etc, your profit will melt like snow in the Swiss sun, once the Swiss find out and will send you multiple fines.

Make sure to hire a specialist before you even make your offer in Switzerland, to maximize your profit and minimize your risk for fines.

Book your free “Swiss-Project-check” Session:

If you would like to learn more about how you can make sure to make profit from your project in Switzerland without facing the risk of high fines, then you can apply for a no-cost ‘Swiss-Project-check’ Strategy Session with Edith Nordmann, our Switzerland and cross-border specialist.

In this 15 minute session, by phone you will:
• Identify the risks that you face when engaging in a project in Switzerland and how you can avoid them;
• Uncover the hidden challenges which may diminish the profit from your project in Switzerland;
• Understand the action you need to take to overcome those challenges and get more
Profit from your Swiss project without hidden challenges and pitfalls.

To book your free 15 minutes “Swiss-Project-check” Session send an email to or call us at
+31 20 800 64 00.



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