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Everything you need to know about the recruitment of foreign self-employed persons in Switzerland

Everything you need to know about the recruitment of foreign self-employed persons in Switzerland

What does it mean to be self-employed?

A self-employed person works on her own and assumes all the economic risks of her activity and is hierarchically independent of her clients. An self-employed person must work for several clients. If not, she would not be considered so from the point of view of the Swiss authorities.

Depending on the conditions of the country of origin, she may be considered self-employed there, but not in Switzerland. This is why along all secondments, proof of status is required when a mission starts in Switzerland.

Is considered proof:

registration with social insurance in Switzerland or abroad as self-employed, adhoc A1 form (this form attests the social security legislation applicable to its holder),
contract (company contract, mandate) with a client in Switzerland,
range of customers (number of customers),
VAT number.


What is the announcement / permit procedure for a foreign self-employed?

The announcement procedure is valid for EU nationals (Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria excepted) and the European Economic Area (plus Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland).

If the mandate does not exceed 8 days in a calendar year, no announcement is necessary. An announcement to the federal authority will have to be made for 9 to 90 days of work in a calendar year in Switzerland. Beyond 90 days, you will need to apply for a permit. The calculation is made by company and calendar year, regardless of the number of people detached.

The announcement must be made no later than 8 days before the self-employed starts the mandate, save in exceptional cases where the announcement can be made no later than the first day of the mission. Otherwise, you risk a fine of CHF 5000.

You need to visit the website of the Federal Office of Immigration, Integration and Emigration  where you can also download the form. We advise you to do it online, so if the announcement is accepted, you will automatically receive a free of charge receipt.

A work and residence permit (EC / EFTA permit) from the relevant canton will be required for a mission of more than 90 days. This authorization is not automatically delivered.

In specific industries (see below), the announcement is mandatory from the first day - whatever the duration of the mission.

- construction (civil engineering and second work)
- landscaping,
- itinerant trade,
- surveillance and security sectors
- domestic and industrial cleaning
- hotels and hospitality.

To find out if your activity is subject to authorization, you can consult the list on this file of the confederation.

What do you need to check when you hire a self-employed person?

The main elements to be checked are: her independent status, her AVS affiliation or an equivalent in her country, and its validity. However, this certificate does not exempt the prospective employer from having his own SSP compensation fund examine the independent nature of the activity. As mentioned above, a self-employed person may very well be considered independent in her country and not in Switzerland. If she does not provide a AVS certificate, the A1 form or its equivalent, the company hiring this person have to submit these documents as if this person was an employee. Note that the A1 form is issued only to European citizens with residence in Europe. In case of an American self-employed living in France, providing this form will be impossible.


What happens in case of control?

During a control, you will have to make available the right documents proving your compliance. If not, you risk paying the amount due to AVS, as well as penalties.


What are the steps when a company often needs to recruit foreign self-employed people?

If you work regularly with self-employed persons who do not come from the same country, it can quickly become a pain to manage, because each situation is different. Outsourcing these services to a specialized company whose team members are used to dealing with these HR issues may be a solution that will allow you to focus on your core business and avoid unpleasant surprises.


The advice of Enrico CHINCARINI, Founder & CEO of Synergix:
"You have to be careful if you recruit a self-employed person who is not part of the EU or EFTA, because the procedure can get complicated quickly and it can sometimes be worth asking if it is really necessary to hire this person rather than another one from the EU for example.

On the other hand, you have to think about VAT. In the situation where the self-employed person works from his country of origin, it must be considered that even benefits acquired abroad are subject to VAT. For goods, the import is subject to VAT, while for services and some work on goods under a contract, it is up to the purchaser of these services to declare them and impose them. However, if benefits and exports made abroad are subject to a foreign VAT, then they are exempt from tax. As for foreign companies, since January 1, 2018, if a self-employed person has a global turnover (achieved in Switzerland and abroad) in excess of CHF 100,000, he must register and pay the Swiss VAT. All the independents are not aware of this new change, so do not hesitate to inform them."

For more details, see our article on VAT changes in 2018. 


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