The Complete Swiss Freelance Guide

All you need to know about self-employment in Switzerland

What is an independent?

Definition and summary of the history of independent status

Self-employed status in Switzerland has a precise definition and unique characteristics. According to the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, a person is considered independent if they work in their own name and on their own account, have a certain autonomy in their work, and themselves assume the economic risk of their activities.

This involves having a company name in the form of a sole proprietorship, managing your own infrastructure, issuing invoices in your name, taking charge of the risk linked to collection as well as calculating VAT. The independent also decides on his organization, his working methods and can subcontract tasks to third parties. It is also characteristic that he works for several clients or principals.

Historically, the independent status in Switzerland has developed in a context of economic flexibility and the promotion of entrepreneurship. Switzerland, known for its stable and business-friendly economic environment, has always encouraged innovation and professional autonomy. Over the years, policies and regulations have evolved to support the self-employed, particularly in terms of social insurance and taxation, recognizing the importance of their contribution to the country's economy.

In Switzerland, self-employed status is not only a way of working but also a philosophy of autonomy and personal responsibility. Freelancers are seen as key drivers of innovation and economic growth. They enjoy great freedom in managing their activities, but must also navigate a complex regulatory and tax environment. This is why it is crucial for Swiss self-employed people to fully understand their obligations and the opportunities available to them, particularly in terms of tax deductions and business management.


Do I have to be self-employed to issue invoices?

No, you don't have to be self-employed to create invoices.

In fact, if you're doing one-off jobs that fall below the CHF 2,300 threshold, it's conceivable that you won't need to set up a company.

What's important is to determine the right moment: for example, to have several customers and make a turnover greater than the above amount.

Complete guide and details

How to become independent

It may seem counter-intuitive, but setting up your own business requires you to register with the AVS.

To do this, you need to show proof of activity, such as contracts or invoices, when you fill in the form for the Compensation Office.

So, the first step to becoming self-employed is not administrative. On the contrary, it's simply a matter of getting started!

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Invoice your first two clients

Simply approach your customers and send them an invoice once the service has been rendered. You need at least two customers to apply for AVS membership.

Create an invoice online

Joining the AHV

Once both invoices have been sent and paid, you have enough documentation to convince the AVS that you are indeed self-employed (and not an employee).

You'll need to fill in a form on the AVS website and send them a few documents; follow the guide.

How to Register With the AHV

You're officially independent!

If you wish, you can register in the Commercial Register (but this is not compulsory).

From now on, you'll need to keep accounts to keep your business under control and satisfy the tax office. Magic Heidi is the ideal tool.

Guide: How to do your accounting

Accounting for self-employed

Guide: How to keep your accounts

For self-employed people who are not subject to VAT (under 100k/year), bookkeeping is simple and can be done in Excel or Magic Heidi.

Why not start with your business travel and telephone expenses?

Tax deductions to remember

The best way to increase your profits is to pay less tax.

In this guide, you'll find a list of common business expenses you shouldn't forget in your accounting.

Business expenses (advanced guide)

Discover the essential tax deductions for independent contractors in our comprehensive guide (french only).

Learn how to optimize your income and business profits by effectively managing your expenses and understanding the nuances of tax regulations.

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Registering for VAT

When your business takes off and you exceed 100,000 in annual revenue, it's time to register for VAT. The following changes follow:

You charge VAT on your invoices

Your invoices must now contain your company number, for example: CHE-213... and you must add the correct VAT rate to your invoices.

You deduct the VAT you pay

You've been paying VAT until now, but now you can deduct it from all your business purchases!

That's 7% off everything! Find out more about the different VAT deduction methods here.

Your accounting becomes more complex

This is generally the time when self-employed people entrust their bookkeeping to an accountant, to simplify their lives and avoid problems.

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Opening a limited liability company

Depending on your needs, it may make sense to open a Sàrl to develop your business.

Discover our guide: Opening a limited liability company vs. self-employed status: what are the differences and how to choose?

Magic Heidi, your right-hand man

To succeed in your business creation project, you need an infallible, simple and well-designed tool. That's the promise of our accounting and invoicing application, specially designed for the Swiss self-employed.