If I want to start a small retailer which will import products from the far east and sell them in a small store in Switzerland, what do I need to do? I am not a resident of CH but I have the right to enter on my (US non-diplomatic) passport.

How can I rent a space if I am not a resident of the country but have right to enter as a tourist?) Are there any contracting issues for someone without residency.

  • This is from this compound question to fit site requirements.
    – Traveler
    Mar 17, 2014 at 12:08
  • How good is your German (or French, or Italian)?
    – Jonas
    Mar 26, 2014 at 9:40
  • @Jonas Not good at all but enough to deal with the most basic things
    – Traveler
    Mar 26, 2014 at 10:36

1 Answer 1


Founding businesses is a legally regulated topic. Consult with an actual lawyer, rather than fully relying on information from the internet.

In Switzerland, as in most countries, you cannot do business under a tourist visa (this applies even if there is a visa waiver program in place).

You therefore have two options: Either you obtain a residency and a work permit in Switzerland, and found your company that way, or you have a Swiss person found the company and invest in their company.

The Swiss Federal Department of Economics (SECO) provides a site for small and medium enterprises ("Kleine und Mittlere Unternehmen, KMU"), with links to useful topics like founding a company and import/export. The sites are either in German, French, or Italian. Unless you want to make use of consulting by companies specialized in assisting founding companies (such as this one), I highly recommend mastering one of the three languages sufficiently well to be able to work through legal texts.

To rent a place, you will also need a residency permit that covers the duration of the contract.


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