Switzerland Market Entry
- Market entry
- Forms and conditions of operation on the market
- Marketing and Communications
- Issues of intellectual property protection
- Public procurement market
- Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes
- Visas, fees, specific conditions of travel to the territory
- Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic
- Fairs and events
Distribution and sales channels, use of local representatives, other factors affecting sales
The Swiss market is small, stable and rich, with many specifics and obstacles, but also advantages. Entering this market is challenging and needs to be carefully considered in advance. Success in Switzerland usually becomes a good reference for entering other, much larger world markets. Failure in Switzerland, however, costs far more than in neighboring countries. Company costs are several times higher here, and services and labor in particular are among the most expensive in the world. It is necessary to explain to the Swiss partner why he should do business with you. It is much easier and more natural for him to do business with companies from neighboring states. He should clearly know in advance why it is worthwhile for him to do business with a company from the Czech Republic. It is therefore best to offer a product that domestic and neighboring companies do not have, or to provide better services. The Swiss are used to paying for quality, but that certainly doesn’t mean they won’t try to push the price down. The business language is English, however, knowledge of the official languages of Switzerland (German, French, Italian) is always an advantage, it increases the “comfort” of communication during longer cooperation and credibility in front of a Swiss partner. We therefore recommend the description of Czech goods and their promotion in local language mutations. Check smber for agriculture and fishing facts of Switzerland.
Import conditions and documents, customs system, export control, domestic market protection
On the website of the Federal Customs Administration Eidgenössische ZollverwaltungEZVone can find all the information of parties importing, exporting and transiting goods from, to and through Switzerland. Goods that are intended for final import into the Swiss customs area must be transported and presented to one of the Swiss customs stations and reported electronically or in writing for customs clearance. You can find an overview of customs offices here. In addition to the correctly completed application form for customs clearance, it is necessary to submit other relevant accompanying documents: invoices, any confirmation of the origin of the goods, permits / expertise, official confirmation, analyses, certificates. The amount of customs duty depends on the type, material, nature, use and weight of the commercial goods. It is usually calculated from the gross weight of the goods. The condition and weight of the goods at the time of customs clearance are the criteria for calculating the duty. Import charges must generally be paid in cash on the spot or in another acceptable or agreed upon manner. Under certain conditions, goods can be imported into Switzerland without customs duty, or the duty may be reduced -see information on goods originating from countries with which Switzerland has a free trade agreement. The effective customs fee is calculated according to the Swiss customs tariff. According to the customs code of the goods, the amount of customs duty upon importation to Switzerland can be checked in this online tariff. In addition to any customs duty, commercial goods are subject to a tax of 7.7% of the assessment base. A reduced tax rate of 2.5% applies to certain types of goods, such as food, books, magazines or medicines. For more information on these taxes, see this link. As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Switzerland must strictly follow the conventions to which it undertook to comply when joining this organization. This means that except for food, imports should be liberal. However, the Swiss market is a relatively closed and protected market, even for companies from EU countries, with which Switzerland has had a free trade agreement since 1972. A specific non-tariff barrier and protection of the domestic market are controls of all kinds both at the borders and inside the country. In the Market Access Database, it is possible to familiarize yourself with the specific amount of customs duties applied to imports into Switzerland, or with other obstacles to market access, as indicated by exporters from member states of the European Union. If you need cooperation with the use of the market access database, you can use the user guide in the Czech language.
Forms and conditions of operation on the market
The conditions for operating on the Swiss market depend on the type of company (individually owned company, limited partnership, limited liability company, joint-stock company, etc.), in which business area and in which canton of Switzerland it will be established and operated. Some generally applicable laws and regulations have many exceptions at the cantonal level (tax differences, procedural differences, residence permits, etc.). For this reason too, we recommend hiring a local representative or agency familiar with the local market and environment. Establishing companies in Switzerland is not limited by the country of origin of the founders. Switzerland is part of the Schengen area, citizens of EU countries (with the exception of Croatia) and the EFTA can therefore work freely in Switzerland, do business independently or start a company. They can also own land. In order for a citizen of an EU/EFTA country to be able to run an independent business or establish a company in Switzerland, he does not have to settle in the country. It is enough for him to apply for a 5-year residence permit (so-called type B permit). However, during registration, he must be able to prove his planned independent activity. This can be done, for example, by documenting registration in the trade register, registration in the commercial register, submitting a business plan, etc. If the establishment of the company does not succeed, the applicant also loses the relevant residence permit. However, he can look for work as an employee in Switzerland. More detailed information regarding the required confirmations is provided by the cantonal migration authorities. Other useful information on the parties to the establishment of the company by a foreign national, or EU/EFTA citizen in Switzerland can be found on the websiteportal of small and medium enterprises KMUPortal.
Marketing and communication
Switzerland is a rich and demanding territory, which should correspond to the presentation of the company, the offered product or service. In addition to standard marketing procedures, it is very important to pay attention to the language level – materials/communications should be in the language mutation of the area of Switzerland in which the company presents itself. Not only the four official languages of the twenty-six cantons, but also different dialects and cultural and social differences must be taken into account.
Traditional marketing tools such as flyers, billboards, printed advertising or advertising in the media are very expensive, and their effectiveness and reach for the presented product or service must be considered in advance. It can be cheaper and in many cases more effective to use social networks, websites, influencers, ambassadors and other Internet promotion options. For this, local PR agencies can be used, which can target the promotion according to their experience with the local environment. On request, the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Bern or one of the three Honorary Consulates of the Czech Republic in Switzerland
will provide contacts to agencies or information about promotional events and fairs.
Issues of intellectual property protection
In Switzerland, the protection of intellectual property rights is at a high level. Switzerland has been a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) since 1970. It is also a party to all important conventions in this area. The Embassy of the Czech Republic in Bern is not aware of any cases of infringement of rights in the field of intellectual property in Switzerland, which would affect the Czech rights holder. Possible violations can be solved in three ways (individually by each of them or in combination with all of them):
– at the criminal-legal level, make a criminal report to the law enforcement authorities,
– request compensation for damage in civil-law court proceedings,
– contact the customs authority, which, at the request of the holder of rights in the field of intellectual property, can prohibit the import, export and transit of objects that infringe the rights in question. Protected designs, patents, brands and designs in Switzerland are verified, granted and administered by the Federal Intellectual Property Office (EidgenössischesInstitut für Geistiges Eigentum) based in Bern.
Public procurement market
– Specific information on public contracts is available on the pages of the Swiss Business Journal SHAB.
– Information on European public procurement is available on the SIMAP/TED Portal.
– The Swiss national public procurement database is available on the SIMAP/CH Portal.
Simap.ch is a joint electronic platform of the confederation, cantons and municipalities in the area of public procurement. Contracting authorities can easily publish their tenders and related documentation through this portal. Interested companies and providers receive a Switzerland-wide overview of possible contracts and, in addition to publications, can electronically download related documents for the offers.
Any questions can be asked directly on the platform through the question / answer forum. You can find the recording of the online training on how to use the SIMAP portal effectively (a webinar containing five videos in German) here.
Czech business entities can also contact the commercial and economic section of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Bern, Muristrasse 53, 3006 Bern, email: [email protected], phone +41313504080.
Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes
Switzerland belongs to the least financially risky countries in the world. The payment terms are not particularly different from European customs. For smaller and irregular transactions, or for the first deliveries of goods or services, payment in advance is required. For larger international transactions, documentary forms of payment upon delivery of goods are often used. Documents are mostly sent through banks, as is payment (documentary direct debit). Between long-term business partners who already trust each other, it is possible to arrange payment by invoice with an agreed maturity period, or even commission sales. The Swiss debt collection office (Betreibungsschalter) can first be used to resolve business disputes with a Swiss partner. More information can be found here.
In general, it can be stated that disputes can be resolved through conciliation or in court. It is significantly cheaper to find a solution in conciliation proceedings at an arbitration court. Arbitration proceedings are governed by Act No. 216/1994 Coll. The arbitration court works at the Chamber of Commerce of the Czech Republic. In the case of court proceedings, it is impossible to do without the legal assistance of specialized offices. A useful link to legal assistance can be found, for example, on the website of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Bern.
Visas, fees, specific conditions for traveling to the territory
In order to enter and stay in the territory of a foreign country, citizens of the Czech Republic must meet the conditions set by its laws. The embassy of the given country is responsible for communicating these conditions. The following information is intended for basic orientation only. It is always advisable to check with the embassy of the country you are visiting before traveling whether the conditions for entry and stay have not changed.
Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it acceded to the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons and Goods in 1999 and is part of the Schengen Area. Since 2014, full free movement also applies to citizens of the Czech Republic. To travel to Switzerland, a valid passport of the Czech Republic or a national identity card of the Czech Republic is sufficient. Travel documents must be valid for the duration of the traveler’s stay in Switzerland, or until the moment of departure. Czech citizens are not required to have a visa in Switzerland. No special permit is required for tourist stays of up to 90 days within 180 calendar days. The same applies to medical or spa stays. However, if a Czech citizen intends to stay in Switzerland for more than 90 days within 180 calendar days, or to perform a gainful activity in Switzerland, he is obliged to apply to the relevant cantonal migration office for a residence permit (more details in chapter 5.8).
The international airports in Zurich, Geneva and Basel are directly connected to the railway network, from the airport in Basel you need to reach the railway station in the city center by bus No. 50. Taxi and car rental services at Swiss airports are a matter of course, the prices are high, the conditions for renting a vehicle and obtaining insurance are standard as in other developed European countries. For shorter distances, it is better and often faster to move on foot, or using public transport. The availability and quality of drinking water is problem-free, crime is very low.
Due to the prices of medical services and medicines, it is highly recommended to take out a good travel insurance before traveling to Switzerland.
Link to useful website:
Embassy of Switzerland in Prague – Schweizerische Botschaft in Prag
State Secretariat for Migration – Staatssekretariat für Migration SEM
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland – Eidgenössisches Departementfür auswärtige Angelegenheiten EDA
Swiss Regional Consular Center in Vienna – Regionales Konsularcenter Wien
Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic
Switzerland concluded an agreement with the EU in 1999 on the free movement of persons. Since 2014, full freedom of movement also applies to citizens of the Czech Republic, who can therefore claim the same living and working conditions in Switzerland as the Swiss.
To work in Switzerland, Czech citizens need a permit issued by the local competent cantonal migration and labor office. Their list and contacts can be found under the following link.
At the federal level, the issue falls under the State Secretariat for Migration (Staatssekretariatfür Migration),on whose website you can find a lot of useful information in German, French, Italian and English. In specific matters, however, it is always advisable to consult the locally competent cantonal migration and labor office, as the conditions may differ from canton to canton.
The key to obtaining a work permit is obtaining a job, or finding an employer willing to employ a Czech applicant and to apply for a work permit for him. The Embassy of the Czech Republic in Bern does not monitor offers on the Swiss labor market and does not mediate work in Switzerland. In order to perform a gainful activity with a stay of more than 90 days, the applicant is obliged to report to the cantonal migration and labor office according to the place of the planned work stay as soon as possible after arriving in Switzerland. See above for a list of contact details.
Useful information can also be obtained on the portal of the European Employment Service (EURES) network, of which the Labor Office of the Czech Republic is a part. The basic mission of the service in question is to facilitate international labor mobility. EURES services are also covered by bilateral agreements in Switzerland. Only the cantons of Neuchâtel, Jura, Geneva and Ticino voted for a legal minimum wage in cantonal referenda. In the salary area, typical Swiss differences are manifested, based on cantonal differences. The strongest Swiss trade union, Unia, considers a fair minimum wage of CHF 4,000 gross per month.
Social and health care is at a high level for those who work legally in Switzerland and properly pay all prescribed contributions.
Fairs and events
A detailed list of all Swiss fairs for the years 2022 to 2025 can be found on the SWISS FAIRS website
The largest and most important Swiss trade fairs include, for example:
BEA BERN held on 28.4. – 7/5/2023. A traditional Swiss agricultural fair.
Geneva International Motor show held on 1– 19/2/2023. One of the two largest European car shows.
OLMA St. Gallen held on – 4/4/2023. The largest Swiss trade fair in the field of hospitality and gastronomy.