Obtaining Special Permits and Licenses in Switzerland

Obtaining Special Permits and Licenses in Switzerland

Updated on Thursday 29th July 2021

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Obtaining-Special-Permits-and-Licenses-in-SwitzerlandSpecial licenses in Switzerland

When starting a business in Switzerland, certain business activities need an approval from local bodies, which are provided in the form of special business licenses and permits. Our law firm in Switzerland can assist businessmen with advice on the types of permits and licenses that are available here and can also represent investors in the procedure of obtaining such documents. 

The registration of a company with the Swiss Commercial Register is usually enough when starting a business, as a general business license will be issued. However, if a company will operate in specific sectors, special licenses or permits will be required. In Switzerland, special licenses will be required when:

  • opening a financial company – the issuance of the license is carried out by the country’s financial regulator, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA);
  • opening an insurance company – such companies also need a license that is issued by FINMA;
  • opening a transportation company – such licenses depend based on the types of activities developed by the company (transportation of goods or persons);
  • when opening a recruitment agency – the license is also needed in the case of persons who are hired as recruiters in a recruitment agency;
  • when opening a casino – there are several types of gambling licenses, for both online activities and traditional gambling operations.
More details on the Swiss special permits and licenses are available in the video below: 


Swiss lawyers, dentists, physicians and pharmacists are also required to apply for special permits before starting working. Another special license is required for those opening hotels or restaurants in Switzerland. A special business license is usually released within a week in Switzerland and our team of Swiss lawyers can provide an in-depth presentation on the main procedures that need to be concluded when applying for one of the above mentioned licenses.


Obtaining special retail permits in Switzerland


Retail permits are required for those opening restaurants and hotels in Switzerland. Foreign enterprisers applying for a special retail license must take into account they must obtain a wholesale trade permit with the Swiss Alcohol Board, according to the Law on Alcohol.

The wholesale trade license has a one-year validity period and is subject to a fee. Our Swiss attorneys can offer you more information about the licensing fees. The special license for selling alcohol is issued only to applicant providing financial security. Retailers are also required to obtain a special retail trade permit with the Swiss cantonal authorities. In case you need Swiss bank account opening services, our lawyers can help you in this matter too.


Which are the Swiss authorities issuing licenses and permits?


There are several Swiss authorities involved in this procedure, depending on the business sector of the applicant company. Swiss special licenses and permits are obtained with the relevant authorities, as it follows: insurance companies are required to apply for an insurance license with the Financial Market Supervisory AuthoritySwiss financial companies are also required to apply for a special license with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, while casino licenses are obtained through the Swiss Federal Gaming Board.


How can a businessman obtain a casino license in Switzerland? 

Those who are involved in any type of gambling activities in Switzerland need to apply for permission to develop such operations on the Swiss territory. In the case of companies in Switzerland that operate as casinos, there are two main categories of licenses – the A-type casino license and the B-type casino license
The A-type casino license is required when the casino provides a range of 14 different table games and when it has slot machines. However, this type of license can be granted only in the situation in which the company set up its casino in a region that has at least one million inhabitants. 
The B-type casino license is addressed to Swiss companies that provide gambling services in locations set up as spas or resorts and which provide a maximum of three different table games. In the case of slot machines, the company can have up to 250 such devices, and it is also important to know that the maximum jackpot that can be offered to a winner is of up to CHF 25,000. 
Businessmen who are interested in investing in this sector must also consider the fact that the Swiss Federal Council has the right of deciding on the number of licenses granted; furthermore, the institution can also establish the regions in which such businesses can set up their operations. 
In order to obtain one of the above mentioned casinos licenses, the company has to send a written application to the Swiss Federal Gaming Board (SFGB); the institution will verify the application and then it will forward it to the Swiss Federal Council, which will issue a final decision regarding the issuance of the license

Do fintech companies in Switzerland need a license? 

A subsector of the financial market in Switzerland is represented by fintech companies, which have as a main business activity the provision of financial services assisted by technology. In this case, the Swiss legislation provides a special type of license, the Fintech License. Since this type of activity is included in the financial sector, FINMA is the entity that will grant the license
In order to apply for a fintech license in Switzerland, the company has to respect a set of criteria, and this is also available when referring to the company’s business form. Thus, the fintech license can be granted to businesses that are registered as limited liability companies, companies limited by shares, or to corporations with unlimited partners. 
These requirements are prescribed under the main rule of law regulating the activity of financial companies in Switzerland, the Banking Act. The fintech company is required to submit an application with FINMA, which will be in charge with deciding if the respective business activity does need a fintech license and if the company’s operations qualify for the issuance of the license
If so, FINMA will appoint a representative who will handle the licensing procedure and will inform the company on any additional documents that have to be submitted. The application with the institution should provide a set of information concerning the Swiss legal entity and its activities, and our team of lawyers in Switzerland can offer an extensive presentation on the following requirements imposed by FINMA
  • the investors should stipulate in their application the legal grounds for which the company needs the fintech license;
  • they must also provide a description of the company’s activities and the target group of future customers;
  • the application should include an extract issued by the Swiss Commercial Register;
  • it must also provide details on the company’s employees, the location where the company is set up and other similar matters;
  • the application must also provide details on the company’s capital and on the shareholders’ participation. 

Depending on the activities undertaken the Swiss company applying for a special permit or license may also be subject to other requirements. Our lawyers in Switzerland will be able to provide you with more information about obtaining a certain type of license. You can also contact us if you need help with the company registration procedure.