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Freelance in Switzerland Social Insurance

“Safety in numbers: Signing up for Social Insurance.”

As a freelancer with a Sole Proprietorship company your small business will have to conclude only one compulsory insurance policy: The first pillar of social insurance aka the state pension.

While this is the only insurance requirement law for solopreneurs, it is worth finding out about other insurances and assessing which ones make sense for you and your enterprise:

There are two basic types of insurance:

  • the social insurances for the entrepreneurs as well as for any employees
  • the company insurances.

Which social insurances are voluntary or mandatory for the business depends on the chosen legal form.

In today’s blog post we’ll take a look at the Swiss Social Insurance system and the First Pillar in particular.

Social Insurance in Switzerland 

The Swiss social insurance system is called a three pillar system.

In actuality, a pyramid built of three tiers would paint a more accurate picture of the three parts that make up Swiss social security.

At the bottom of the pyramid making up for the largest part of your social security is the old age and survivors insurance, aka the first pillar, which is sometimes also called the state pension.  This insurance is mandatory for all self employed entrepreneurs, companies and their employees.

The middle slice of the pyramid, also providing a large chunk to security funds is the occupational pension or second pillar. This insurance is mandatory for all capital based companies with employees whose annual salary amounts to CHF 21’150 or more.

Finally, the top part of the pyramid are all private pensions and saving plans. All of those are completely optional and there is a myriad of different service providers to chose from.

So which companies have to register for what pillars? Here’s a quick summary:



    • If revenue is more than CHF 2’300 per year then it is compulsory to register and pay into Old Age & Survivor Insurance. (First Pillar )


    • All employees must be signed up for Old Age & Survivor Insurance (First Pillar)
    • Employees with an income over CHF 21’150 per year must be signed up for Occupational Pension (Second Pillar)
    • Employees who work more than 8 hours per week must be signed up for accident insurance

Registration Process

Step 1: Your Social Security Number

To be able to register with your Cantonal compensation office you need to have a Swiss social security number.

The 13 digit long number always starts with the three digits 756 (it’s the international country code for Switzerland) and is then followed by two sets of four digits and a double digit at the end.

The easiest way to find your social security number is to check your Swiss health insurance card of which you see an example below on the left.

Alternatively, you may have received a social security card from an employer or when you first moved to Switzerland and registered with a health insurance. The insurance certificate is the shape of a credit card and looks like the example below on the right.

Images © Federal Statistics Office

Step 2: Registering social insurance with your cantonal compensation office

You should sign up with your cantonal compensation office as soon as possible after starting your business. This may sometimes pose a little bit of a “check and egg” problem, as the compensation office will want to see proof of you having clients and as a start-up you may not have any as of yet. However, if you have plenty of other documents to confirm the legitimacy of your business  (see also section 2 in the example below) this should not be a problem.

Waiting with registering your self-employment for the first pillar social insurance until after you file your tax return  may incur interest on arrears.

The sign up form is available for download from most cantonal compensation offices online.

As an example, here’s the link to the form from SVA Zurich https://www.svazurich.ch/pdf/024.001.pdf  and quick break down of the form and what you need to fill in, which is pretty the standard in all sign up forms throughout the different cantons.

Please note that this is free translation of the form and is provided for information purposes only and has no legal force as English is not an official Swiss language.
[pdf-embedder url=”https://swisssmallbizbootcamp.com/launch/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/AHV-1.pdf”]


Section 1: Legal Entity
Check off whether you are a
Sole Proprietorship
Joint Partner
Simple Partnership
General Partnership
Limited Partnership

Section 2: Documentation
Check off enclosed material that will prove your business activities
Copy of office space lease
Copies of quotes for clients
Copies of invoices and receipts
Proof of payment from clients
Proof of acquired inventory (receipts for hardware, office furniture etc)
Copies of advertising materials, website etc.

Section 3: Accident insurance
Tick off whether you are working
in the field of construction, forest, transport or industry
with large machinery or store heavy materials in large quantities
with neither of the two answers above applying to your business

Section 4: Your Particulars
Fill in your
last name
first name
female or male
date of birth
Swiss social security number
□ type of work or residence permit date of permit obtained

Non EU residents and holder of B permits need to enclose a copy of their permit.

Section 5: Business Address
Fill in your
company name
industry type
zip code & place
daytime phone number
email address
date of business start

and, if applicable Commercial Registration:
Swiss official gazette of commerce  #  publication date
joint partner since _______

Business activity
main income    side income

[pdf-embedder url=”https://swisssmallbizbootcamp.com/launch/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/AHV-2.pdf”]


Section 6: Delivery address
Only fill this in if you want mail sent to an address that differs from the address you specified in section 5.
name / first name / company name
zip code & place
daytime phone #
email address

Section 7: Physical address
Your private legal domicile
street address and house #
zip code and place

Section 8: Bank account
For over- and repayments

Section 9: Spouse or registered partner
Only to be filled in if person in section 4 is married woman or a person living with a registered partner
first name
date of birth
social security # (756.xxxx.xxxx.xx)
zip code & place

Section 10: Details about self-employment
1. Are you acting in your own name towards your clients?
yes no
2. Are you issuing quotes?
yes no
3. Are you issuing invoices or receipts?
yes no
4. Do you bear the loss if a client fails to pay?
yes no
5. What infrastructure do you have?
office space
delivery vehicle
other ___________

Section 11: Details description of your activities
Detailed description of your activity / remarks

Do contracts with clients already exist?
yes no

Name of contract partners / clients

[pdf-embedder url=”https://swisssmallbizbootcamp.com/launch/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/AHV-3.pdf”]


Section 12: Estimated Income
How high do you estimate your self-employed income (after deduction of expenses) for the first 12 months?
Total estimated annual income in CHF: ______________________

How much of your own equity is invested in the business?
(Own assets invested in the company after deduction of the debts)
Equity in CHF: ______________________

Section 13: Staff / Salaries
Are you employing staff?
Yes    No
– Spouse or registered partner
employed since _____________
gross monthly salary_____________
– Other
number of employees _____________
employed since _____________
total gross monthly salary_____________

Section 14: Supplementary questions
1. Are you a member of a professional association and / or a
Association Compensation Fund?
Yes    No
– Professional association
– Association Compensation Fund
– Family Compensation Fund

2. Are you also working outside of Switzerland at the same time?
Yes No
If yes, please also fill in and file form 024.011

3. How did you pay the AHV contributions or social insurance contributions in the last 12 months?
– as an employee or as a beneficiary from unemployment fund
-> name of employer or name of unemployment fund
-> address of employer or of unemployment fund
-> start date // end date

– self-employed in Switzerland or abroad
-company address
-name of compensation fund
-> start date // end date

– as non-employed person
-name of compensation fund
-> start date // end date

Section 15: Partner
Only fill in this section if you checked Simple Partnership, General Partnership or Partnership in Section 1
List name and address of all partners

[pdf-embedder url=”https://swisssmallbizbootcamp.com/launch/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/AHV-4.pdf”]

Page 4

Section 16: Joint Partner
Only fill in this section if you checked Joint Partner in section 1

What kind of partner are you ?
Fully liable partner
Limited partner
Other _________________________

Are you actively working in the company?
□  Yes    □  No

If yes, function / position __________________________

How are profits and losses distributed among the partners?

In % ____________

Section 17: Power of Attorney
If you’d like to grant someone else, like an accountant a Power of Attorney that you listed in section 6, please sign the following statement at the end:

I hereby authorize the person listed in sectio 6 to represen my interests with regard to AHV / IV / EO contributions as well as family allowances and maternity allowances.
This power of attorney includes the rights to take legal action.

Thus, SVA Zürich and SUVA are exempted from the professional and statutory secrecy obligation and are authorized to provide information to the respective third-party and to allow access to the files, as well as to provide notifications, orders and invoices.

Place & Date


Section 18: Confirmation of the applicant
Please review that you filled in all relevant sections with correct and accurate information.

The applicant herewith confirms the correctness and completeness of the information

Place & Date


Step by Step Summary to Sign Up for Social Insurance

  • Download form
  • Fill in the form on the computer or print and fill in by hand
  • Print and sign the form
  • Enclose proof of business activity including: Name and addresses of at least three clients / website / quotes or invoices / proof of purchase for materials / office rent contract etc as listed in section 2 of the form
  • Send the form and the enclosures via snail mail to your cantonal compensation office

Tip: Do not staple the forms or use paper clips to keep them together as this allows for easy and fast processing.

SSBB Social Insurance Toolbox

Info brochure Social Security in Switzerland

Download a comprehensive free brochure about Swiss social security in English.

Published by the Federal Social Insurance Office and
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

Online signup for Swiss Social Insurance Certificate

Sign up online in English for your social insurance certificate.

Image © Federal Statistics Office

PDF form to order Swiss Social Insurance Certificate

Download the PDF in English to order your Swiss Social Insurance Certificate

Image © Federal Statistics Office

Step 3: Paying contributions

So there you have it.
One form only and some enclosures and you’ll be registered for your social insurance in a jiffy.

Once the Cantonal compensation office has reviewed your application you will either get a letter stipulating if they need additional information or a confirmation that you are officially registered.

From then on you will receive an invoice every three months for the contributions for each quarter.

Some cantonal compensation offices have an online calculator that will give you a rough idea of how much you owe per year so you can budget accordingly.

Here’s a handy link to the contribution calculator for self-employed people from the Canton of Zurich (in German).

Just choose business year, then enter the estimated total revenue and the equity you invested and voilà – social contributions are sorted.

Have an awesome start into the summer!

5 Steps to Freelance in Switzerland

Prep:    Work permit requirements
Step 1: Name your business
Step 2: Plan your business
………. ➊ Commercial registry
………. ➋ VAT requirements
………. ➌ Social insurance
………. ➍ Launch budget
………. ➎ Market research
………. ➏ Domicile & infrastructure
Step 3: Incorporate and register
Step 4: Kick off
Step 5: Keep rocking

SSBB Swiss Sole Proprietorship Checklist

I am a multilingual business executive, communications professional and writer with 20+ years of experience in operations and project management in various roles and industries.

Through the SSBB workshops and blog I help expat entrepreneurs plan, start, register and run their (small) business in the Switzerland.

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