Founding a sole proprietorship in CH

(not sure where this would fit, so I put it under “Coffee”)

My wife will be opening her sole proprietorship as a professional photographer in Switzerland soon.

I’ve been reading around multiple sources [*] and things seem relatively simple (especially under 100k income - commercial register optional).

However there’s one thing that confuses me, in terms of timing the AHV/compensation fund registration.

One of the sources states:

It’s important to note that to qualify as self-employed in Switzerland, you have to have your self-employment reviewed and recognized by the responsible compensation office (AHV). Once you have started your business activity in self-employment, you have to register with the compensation office to do so. The compensation office of the canton where your company is domiciled is responsible.
To review your application, the compensation office needs proof of self-employment. That’s why registration is retroactive. Include documents with your application that prove you are self-employed. These may comprise, for example, offers and invoices, advertising materials, or a description of your activity. An entry in the commercial register is not enough for approval of self-employment.

Does this mean that there is literally no official step needed before starting to offer & execute the first few contracts (usually 3 are mentioned)?
And only after those have been done, we should go to AHV?

Otherwise seems a bit like a triple chicken and egg - how do you make offers/contracts without having a business, but can’t have a business without being registered, but can’t get registered without having offers/contracts? :grin:

Any experiences/tips are very welcome!

[*] Refs:

What is a „business“? :woman_shrugging:t3:

And did anyone say registering with AHV/AVS is a prerequisite to start or operate a business?

If you hire someone as a full-time domestic worker, you are obliged to register as an employer with AHV/AVS and pay social security contributions. But if you “forgot”, would anyone say “oh, you are ot registered as an employer - so since you forgot to to it, that clearly means you can’t and didn’t employ him/her?

According to the paragraph I quote above - it seems not - to “start your self-employed business”.

But it is a requirement for “becoming qualified as self-employed”, i.e. to legally/tax-relevant-ly continue running it.

My question is - am I intepreting the steps correctly?

  • You think of a name for your business (which needs to contain your surname in it)
  • You (optionally, until <100k income) register in the chamber of commerce
  • You simply start issuing offers and executing your service using that “invented” not-necessarily-registered business name (?)
  • Once you collect 3 instances of that, you walk into the compensation fund (AHV) office and submit those as proof of your business being an actual thing (?)
  • You are now considered self-employed (and sort out the rest of insurances, handle 3rd pillar etc.)

Did I miss an important piece?

Sorry but this piece seems not too relevant to the topic (not about hiring someone self-employed, but the other side of it - becoming someone that is; and paying the AHV+ by oneself).

You don’t need to “invent” a business name. You can use your name.

True, it isn’t much - except to illustrate that you can be an employer or self-employed and start “doing business” without having registered with AHV/AVS yet - since you asked about the chicken-and-egg situation above.

Whereas an LLC of course can’t. It first needs to register.

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