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Founding a company in Switzerland: Associations

An association in Switzerland is a legal entity formed by individuals pursuing non-commercial goals, governed by statutes and managed by a general assembly and a board. It gains legal personality by adopting statutes and electing a board, with registration required only if it operates a commercial business or is subject to audit requirements.


How to start a Limited Partnership
Association

An association in Switzerland is a legal organisational form for a group of people who come together to pursue a non-commercial purpose. It is regulated by the Swiss Civil Code (ZGB), particularly in Art. 60-79 ZGB


Features of an Association:


  1. Non-Commercial Purpose: Associations pursue charitable, cultural, social, sporting, or other idealistic goals that are not aimed at generating profit.

  2. Membership: Membership is generally open to anyone who supports the goals of the association.

  3. Statutes: The association must have statutes (bylaws) that at least define its purpose, organisation, and membership conditions.

  4. Governing Bodies: An association must have at least two governing bodies: the general assembly (membership meeting) as the highest authority and the board as the executive body.

  5. Legal Personality: An association gains legal personality by adopting the statutes and electing the board. Registration in the commercial register is only required if the association runs a commercial business or is subject to audit requirements.



Steps to Forming an Association:


  1. Founding Meeting: A meeting of at least two people who wish to establish the association.

  2. Drafting the Statutes: The founders draft the statutes, which outline the association's purpose, organisation, and membership conditions.

  3. Adoption of the Statutes: The statutes are adopted during the founding meeting by those present.

  4. Election of the Board: The board is elected during the founding meeting to represent the association externally and handle ongoing affairs.

  5. Minutes of the Founding Meeting: Minutes of the founding meeting are prepared, documenting the adoption of the statutes and the election of the board.

Optional: Registration in the Commercial Register: Required only if the association runs a commercial business or is subject to audit requirements.


Advantages of an Association


  • Simplicity and Flexibility: Forming and managing an association is relatively simple and cost-effective.

  • Legal Personality: An association can enter into contracts, sue, and be sued as a legal entity.

  • Charitable Status: Associations can enjoy tax benefits if they pursue charitable purposes.


Examples of Associations in Switzerland


  • Sports Clubs: Football clubs, tennis clubs, etc.

  • Cultural Associations: Theatre groups, music clubs, etc.

  • Social and Charitable Associations: Charities, aid organisations, etc.


Associations are a widespread and popular organisational form in Switzerland, providing an uncomplicated way to pursue common interests and goals.


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