Commercial LawCompany creation / Startups

Commercial law: Shareholder of a Swiss company: what are your rights of residence?

Are you a non-Swiss shareholder of a Swiss company? Does this give you the right to obtain a residence permit? We answer this question in this article!

An establishment in Switzerland will be considered as a transfer within the company. The rules governing this are both GATS, the General Agreement on Trade in Services, and Swiss law.

If you are a citizen of the European Union or EFTA, you can in any case obtain a Swiss residence permit as a shareholder. You will need to apply for a B permit, we explain how to do so in this article

If you are a citizen of a third-party country, the additional rules of GATS and Swiss law will apply.

For your information, the GATS is an agreement initiated by the World Trade Organization, aimed among other things at facilitating the transfer of employees of the same company between countries. The vast majority of countries, including Switzerland, have ratified this agreement. This article explains the GATS in more detail:  


According to the GATS, highly qualified managers, executives and specialists (being third-country nationals) can obtain a Swiss residence permit. By “managers and executives” the agreement means employees managing departments. 

By fulfilling the following conditions, the employee can obtain a 4-year permit:

  1. Being a manager, executive or highly qualified specialist ;
  2. Having worked for at least 1 year in the company ;
  3. The employment contract must be subject to Swiss law;
  4. Permit quotas are respected.


Thus, if you are a shareholder and meet these conditions, you can obtain a B permit. Read this article to find out more about the procedure.


Swiss law also provides for regulations on this subject. A residence permit will be granted to highly qualified executives, managers and specialists. However, it defines “executives and managers” as those who can take decisions in the organisation of the company, which is applicable to shareholders.

In addition, the following conditions will have to be met:

  1. The transfer will serve the economic interests of Switzerland ;
  2. The application must be made by the employer ;
  3. The quotas are respected;
  4. The employment contract is subject to Swiss law;
  5. Adequate housing is guaranteed to the employee.


A foreign shareholder of a Swiss company will therefore in principle be able to obtain a B permit! 

However, this varies according to the specific case. Our specialized lawyers will answer your questions and will be able to analyze your situation in order to give you the best advice!

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