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Swiss company audit, financial reporting, accounting, consulting in Switzerland

Switzerland, a country in Europe bordering Germany, France, Italy and Liechtenstein, is not part of the European Union, but is integrated into the European economy and is considered the most famous financial centre in the world. Its banking sector has a storied history and an impeccable reputation. Switzerland continues to keep the identity of its beneficial owners confidential. Small and medium-sized companies in Switzerland do not have to publish accounts and can also obtain exemptions from audits.

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Service packages «Switzerland AG» Service packages «Switzerland GmbH» Legislation Tax System Audit Services
Preparation and submission of accounts
100-350 EUR per hour
Audit of financial statements
100-350 EIR per hour
Preparation and submission of VAT / VIES / INTRASTAT returns
100-350 EIR per hour
Consulting services and support during tax audits
100-350 EUR per hour

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General requirements (what companies must submit financial statements)

Accounting in Switzerland is regulated by the provisions of the Code of Obligations.

Swiss companies must file the following forms of financial statements:

  • Management report (for large companies);
  • Balance sheet;
  • Profit and loss statement;
  • Cash flow statement (for large companies);
  • Notes + additional information.

I. The following companies must keep accounting records and prepare financial statements and file them with the Commercial Registry:

  1. Sole proprietorships and partnerships with sales income over 500 000 CHF in the last financial year;
  2. Legal entities:

2. Legal entities:

  • Public limited companies,
  • Limited liability partnerships,
  • Limited liability companies,
  • Cooperatives,
  • Associations and funds.

II. The following companies in Switzerland are not required to keep full accounting records and prepare financial statements; they can prepare condensed financial statements:

  1. Sole proprietorships and partnerships that generated sales income of under 500 000 CHF in the last financial year;
  2. Associations and funds that are not required to register with the Commercial Registry;
  3. Funds exempt from the audit requirement.

III. Sole proprietorships and partnerships with proceeds from sale of goods or services or financial income under 100 000 CHF must only keep records of their receipts and payments on the cash basis.

Requirements regarding compulsory publication of financial statements of companies in Switzerland are limited:

  • Only standalone and consolidated financial statements of listed companies (whose shares are listed on a stock exchange) must be published;
  • Cooperatives that have at least 2 000 members;
  • Funds that must be audited according to the law.

Accounting records, accounting documents, annual accounts and auditor’s reports must be kept for ten years in the registered office of the company.

Audit of accounts

The following companies must be audited:

I. Companies that exceeded 2 of the 3 criteria in 2 straight years:

  • Balance sheet total is 20 000 000 CHF;
  • Turnover is 40 000 000 CHF;
  • Average headcount of employees per year is 250;

II. Standalone and consolidated financial statements of listed companies (whose shares are listed on a stock exchange).

III. Cooperatives that have at least 2 000 members;

IV. Funds that must be audited according to the law.

Time frame for preparation and submission of financial statements

Switzerland has 26 cantons, confederate states, and each canton has its own time frame for filing accounts, from 6 to 9 months.

Liability for late filing of accounts

In the case of late filing of accounts or refusal to file them, penalties apply. Each of the 26 cantons has its taxation system, so penalties for companies will vary in the case of a delay in filing accounts.

Consolidated financial statements

If a company, association or fund controls one or several legal entities that must file financial statements, in addition to annual accounts the enterprise must prepare annual consolidated financial statements for all controlled entities.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships are exempt from the consolidation requirement.

A legal entity is considered to control another entity if it:

  • holds the majority of votes in the supreme management body;
  • has the right to appoint or dismiss the majority of members of the supreme management or administrative body;
  • can exert controlling influence on the entity on the basis of the articles of association, constitutive act or analogous documents.

A legal entity is exempt from the obligation to make consolidated financial statements if the entity did not exceed two of the following thresholds in two consecutive financial years:

  • Balance sheet total is 20 000 000 CHF;
  • Turnover is 40 000 000 CHF;
  • Average headcount of employees per year is 250.

Subgroups are also exempt from the consolidation requirement if consolidated financial statements of the controlling entity have been prepared, audited and provided in accordance with legislation.

Frequency Asked Questions

What is Swiss audit?
Swiss audit refers to the process of independent examination of financial statements of a company or organization in Switzerland by a licensed auditor to provide an opinion on their accuracy, completeness, and compliance with accounting standards and regulations. Swiss audit is aimed at enhancing the credibility and reliability of financial information reported by companies to their stakeholders, including shareholders, creditors, and government agencies. It helps to ensure transparency, accountability, and good corporate governance practices in the Swiss business environment.
Is audit mandatory in Switzerland?
Audit is not mandatory for all companies in Switzerland. However, companies that exceed certain thresholds are required to undergo an audit. For example, under the Swiss Code of Obligations, joint stock companies (AG) and limited liability companies (GmbH) are required to undergo an audit if they meet two of the three following conditions for two consecutive financial years: 1) total assets of at least 20 000 000 CHF, 2) turnover of at least 40 000 000 CHF and 3) more than 250 full-time employees. Other types of companies, such as sole proprietorships or partnerships, are generally not required to undergo an audit, but they may choose to do so voluntarily.
What is the Swiss law on financial reporting?
Swiss law on financial reporting includes several laws, regulations, and standards that govern financial reporting practices in Switzerland. The main laws include the Swiss Code of Obligations, which requires companies to prepare financial statements, and the Swiss Federal Act on Accounting, which outlines accounting principles and disclosure requirements. Additionally, the Swiss Financial Reporting Enforcement Panel (FREP) oversees the enforcement of financial reporting and auditing standards in Switzerland.
What accounting standards are used in Switzerland?
Switzerland uses Swiss GAAP FER (Fachempfehlungen zur Rechnungslegung), which is a set of accounting standards issued by the Swiss professional accounting body called the Expert Suisse. However, many large companies in Switzerland also use International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) for their consolidated financial statements.
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