Permit Requirements

When purchasing a property in Switzerland, understand the permit requirements...

In general, every acquisition of real estate by persons abroad as defined above requires a permit unless the specific acquisition is subject to an exemption.

Real estate for permanent business establishments

No authorisation is needed to buy real estate for the purpose of creating a permanent establishment for a distribution, manufacturing or other type of commercial business, for a workshop or for the practice of a liberal profession (e.g. law offices, doctor's practice).

It is also possible for the purchaser to acquire the property as a mere capital investment and to then rent or lease it to somebody else for the pursuit of an economic activity (in other words, use as a permanent business establishment). Moreover, the participation by foreign investors in business enterprises does not require permission, not even if the company premises of these enterprises consist of a considerable amount of land.

On the other hand, the acquisition of real estate for the purpose of building, renting or leasing housing accommodation or for the purpose of trading in such accommodation requires prior authorisation and is, in principal, excluded for lack of grounds for granting such authorisation. Living accommodation run on a hotel basis are, however, considered as permanent business establishments (see above) and may therefore be acquired or built without authorization.

In general, land reserves may be purchased without authorisation if they do not exceed one third of the total surface area. This means that about two thirds of the total surface area must be developed or should be developed in the near future, while approximately one third may remain unused as reserve land. The competent cantonal authorities will decide whether or not - in a specific case - land reserves of more than one third are allowed.

Information supplied by Dr. Michael A Meer, LL.M., Attorney at Law Gruninger Hunziker AG, Zürich / Bern. Tel: +41 (0) 58 356 5050, e-mail / web: Copyright © 2009 GHR Rechtsanwälte AG All Rights Reserved