Complete Guide to Going Freelancing in Switzerland

What Jobs are In Demand for Freelancers in Switzerland?

Switzerland is not the easiest country to become a freelancer in, but once you get over several legal hurdles and receive the proper permits, you’ll be ready to work for yourself. What jobs are in demand for freelancers in Switzerland? Some of the best freelancing fields in the country are in the:

  • Creative sectors
  • Hospitality industry
  • Logistical field

 

Once you get started freelancing in the country, you’ll likely find it a doable endeavor. It’s also likely that you’ll discover freelancing to be a straightforward process. Switzerland’s international community is full of self-employed people.

Are you Eligible to Work as a Freelancer or a Self-Employed Person in Switzerland?

To be eligible to work as a freelancer or a self-employed individual in Switzerland, you must be a Swiss resident or have a partner who is one. You are also eligible to set up as a freelancer in the country if you have a Swiss legal entity.

After deciding to freelance, you’ll need to fill out an affiliation form for the compensation office of the canton in which you reside. Prepare to submit completed invoices, service offer agreements and confirmation of Civil Liability Insurance. Also, be ready to confirm that you have knowledge of the freelance business that you intend to start and will be able to support yourself.

How to Register as a Freelancer in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the freelance application process varies between cantons. Before you begin the process, be sure to check with your local immigration office for a checklist of everything that they need you to submit.

There is one step that every person who wants to freelance in Switzerland must complete, which is to create a sole proprietorship company. In the German speaking areas of Switzerland, this is called an Einzelfirma while the French speaking parts of the country call it an Entreprise Individuelle. If you live in the Italian speaking region, then it will be called a Ditta Individuale.

When setting up a sole proprietorship in Switzerland, a common way to do it is through the Swiss Code of Obligations. This form is the most appropriate one for solo business owners or other individuals who are self-employed. The form is easy to process, and it doesn’t ask for capital injection, making it perfect for those who don’t have a major investor or access to investment funds.

Deciding to work as a freelancer is popular in Switzerland. Deloitte, a consultancy firm, found that around 25% of those who are living in the country are self-employed.

There are many benefits to freelance work. For instance, you’ll be able to set your own hours and work whatever days during the week that you wish to work. In Switzerland, freelance workers have the same access to childcare benefits as those who work for an employer.

How to Pay Taxes on Your Freelancing Income in Switzerland

As a freelancer in Switzerland, you may not have a regular income. Because of this, you won’t be paying taxes in the same way as those who are employed by a company. Be sure to maintain detailed financial records to ensure that you’re paying the proper amount of taxes.

The country requires freelancers to claim their profits as income and include these earnings in their taxable income. You’ll need to file a tax return based on your business accounts as well as on your private resources. As a self-employed person in Switzerland, you can deduct your business expenses from your business’s revenue, but you will need to show that those expenses are needed. When freelancing in the country, you are permitted to carry forward business losses for seven years.

How to Pay VAT as a Freelancer in Switzerland

The country requires freelancers to notify the Federal Tax Administration (AFC) about their employment status and register for VAT. After registering, check to see if your business meets the liability conditions listed on the AFC website.

Legal duties for freelancers in Switzerland including paying VAT when required. Self-employed people in Switzerland who make more than CHF 100,000 will need to pay VAT. However, there are some sectors that are exempt from VAT. For instance, those who work in farming, insurance or healthcare are exempt. Check this VAT guide for freelancers in Switzerland to see the rates that will apply to you.

What are Your Bookkeeping Obligations when Freelancing in Switzerland?

When you open freelance business in Switzerland, you’ll have bookkeeping obligations that include tracking:

  • Business receipts
  • Expenses
  • Payments
  • Invoices
  • Social security payments

 

Once you begin freelancing, you’ll need to devote part of your salary toward social security and your pension. Also, make sure that you have liability coverage in case you wind up facing a civil liability. Depending on the type of freelancing that you do, you may need professional indemnity insurance as well as legal protection insurance.

How to Invoice Clients as a Freelancer in Switzerland

When you begin freelancing, it’s important to learn how to create a proper invoice to ensure that you’re getting paid for your work. Be sure to include elements like your full name, your company’s address, the invoice date, information regarding the work that you provided, the VAT and the total amount owed.

Consider signing up for a service like Xolo Go to eliminate the stress of invoicing your clients. With the Xolo Go platform, you’ll receive access to an automatic invoice generator, VAT calculator and a business bank account. The program also provides you with a business dashboard that makes it easy for you to manage expenses and see how your freelance company is doing. To learn more about Xolo Go, check out our website and sign up to send your first invoice!

the freelancer's favorite pay-as-you-go invoicing tool

Tips for Setting Up Your Freelance Business in Switzerland

Freelancers in Switzerland have the option of doing business in a co-working space or in a personal office that they rent. If you’re just getting started, consider going with a co-working space. These spaces are a great place to meet other freelancers and become more connected with the local community.

Obtaining an official business address gives your company a more professional appearance. If you meet with clients in person, then you’ll have a place to discuss business projects.

Be sure to become a member of websites like Upwork and Zebraskill. Both allow you to share your professional profile. You’ll be able to connect with potential clients through both sites. It’s also a good idea to keep your profile updated on LinkedIn and Guru. Join Coworking.ch as well. This site arranges networking events for freelancers to help them expand their business opportunities. Read this blog to check our marketplace list for freelancers.

Freelance in Switzerland as a foreigner

If you’re freelancing in Switzerland temporarily and intend to work as a freelancer who doesn’t need a special provision, then as long as you’re an EU/EEA and UK resident, you’ll be able to continue working as an independent, but you’ll have to request a short-term residence permit.

To apply for a short-term residence permit, you’ll need to show:

  • Confirmation of your current freelancing work contract
  • Verification of your financial stability using a bank statement
  • Evidence of health insurance

 

Keep in mind that this system is not set up for freelancers who will be staying in the country longer than a year. It is typically used by those who are coming to the country to complete temporary construction work. Those who are not EU/EEA and UK citizens are not eligible to come to the country without receiving a work contract.

Most people who intend to work as a freelancer in Switzerland must be prepared to do it for a long period. This means that you’ll be able to freelance for as long as you want to in Switzerland while enjoying the same safeguards provided to people who are full time workers or part time employees.

To be a freelancer in Switzerland as a non-EU/EEA and UK citizen, you’ll need to have a Swiss B-residence permit, which means that you must work in the country for more than three years. You must also have health insurance for you and anyone who is dependent upon you.

You have the option of becoming a freelancer by freelancing through a company as well. There are a number of human resource companies in the country that will manage the required financial contributions.

Our Tip to Open a Solo Business as a Freelancer in Switzerland

One compliant and easy way to open a freelancing business in Switzerland is to have your business set up with Estonian e-Residency with the help of Xolo Leap. With Xolo Leap, we’ll help you oversee the taxes, local compliance requirements and bookkeeping. You’ll have a personal accountant, access to integrated banking and the ability to process unlimited transactions. Head over to Xolo Leap to learn more about the program and have your dream business set up today!

Become a Freelancer in Switzerland

Freelancing in Switzerland means that you can be your own boss and enjoy the benefits that come with it. To start as a freelancer and succeed in opening your solo business, sign up for Xolo Go to send your invoices without a company or Xolo Leap to have your Estonian business registered by us!

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