Founding a Transport Company in Switzerland

switzerland bus

Switzerland’s strategic position at the heart of Europe, along with its thriving economy and world-class infrastructure, presents a wealth of opportunities for entrepreneurs of all types. One of its most attractive sectors is transportation. In this article, we discuss why Switzerland is such an excellent location for founding a transport company and provide an in-depth exploration of the various important factors to consider when setting up a transport company yourself.  

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  • Switzerland’s central location and its advanced infrastructure make it an ideal base for a transport company
  • You should acquire a license, select a canton, analyze the market, plan finances and register the business
  • Foreign entrepreneurs can establish transport companies in Switzerland but must meet the requirements
  • Other requirements: obtaining residence/work permit and securing authorization from cantonal authorities
  • Options for a profitable transport business in Switzerland include: Cargo, passenger, specialised or couries


  • Founding a Transport Company in Switzerland
  • Highlights & content
  • Why start a transport company in Switzerland?
  • What type of transport company should you set up?
  • Important considerations when founding a transport company in Switzerland
  • Can a foreigner establish a transport company in Switzerland?
  • Nexova AG: Your reliable fiduciary partner for founding a transport company in Switzerland

Why start a transport company in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s highly developed infrastructure and transportation network combined with its prime location at the crossroads of Europe make it an ideal country to set up a transport company. Here are the top reasons to consider launching your own transport and logistics company in Switzerland:

  1. Strategic geographic location: Switzerland’s central location in Europe make it a natural hub for transportation routes, whether by road, rail, or air. As a transportation company based in Switzerland, there are no shortage of opportunities for connecting different parts of Europe. These include cargo and freight services, passenger transport, mail order, and other specialised forms of transportation such as medical and refrigerated goods.
  2. World-class infrastructure: Switzerland has one of the most advanced transportation infrastructures in the world. The roads, railways, and airports are maintained at high standards, ensuring smooth operations for transport companies.
  3. Stable economic and political environment: Switzerland is renowned for its political and economic stability and corporate-friendly regulations. This creates a supportive environment for entrepreneurs looking to establish and grow their transport company in Switzerland. In addition, Switzerland’s prosperous economy attracts many multinational corporations and financial institutions, which depend on a reliable transport sector. Switzerland’s booming tourism industry also creates a wide range of opportunities in this sector.
  4. Movement towards eco-friendly transportation: Switzerland is at the forefront of promoting green transportation. There’s a strong movement towards using environmentally friendly transportation to reduce carbon emissions. Transport companies that promote these initiatives with their own actions not only contribute positively to the environment but may also benefit from various incentives and a growing market segment that values sustainability.
  5. Wide range of opportunities: Switzerland offers a range of transportation business opportunities, from freight logistics to passenger transportation to specialized services. The advanced infrastructure which includes rail, road and air networks allows transport companies to consider various transportation modes and solutions.
  6. Established transport industry: With its established transport industry, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel to succeed in Switzerland. There are plenty of resources and examples to draw on and learn from when getting your business off the ground. While this can also lead to increased competition, the increasing demand for transportation services in Switzerland means there are plenty of opportunities for new companies to find their edge.

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What type of transport company should you set up?

The term “transport company” is a broad one, as there are numerous specific types of transport companies you could start in Switzerland. Some of the options include:

  • Cargo and freight logistics for local and/or international consignments.
  • Passenger transportation like buses, taxis, tourist vehicles, or luxury chauffeur services.
  • Specialised transport services such as medical or refrigerated transportation.
  • Courier or parcel delivery services, which is especially lucrative in this era of e-commerce.

Switzerland offers plenty of opportunities in all the different markets mentioned above. The choice really comes down to personal preference, and would largely be based on your specific expertise, amount of capital at your disposal, and an assessment of relative profitability informed by your market research.

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Important considerations when founding a transport company in Switzerland

Setting up a transport company in Switzerland can offer great opportunities and rewards, but there are some important considerations for ensuring that your business is set up correctly and goes on to be a success. Here we outline some of the most vital considerations when founding a transport company in Switzerland:

1. Licenses and permits

Acquiring the right licenses and permits is a necessity for setting up a transport company in Switzerland. Anyone who intends to operate as a road transport company for passenger or freight/cargo transport needs to get the correct permit from the Federal Office of Transport in Switzerland. Some types of transport providers do not need this permit, such as vehicles that intend to transport less than 8 passengers, as well as dedicated company transport vehicles.

To receive the permit, you need to demonstrate that you fulfill three requirements, namely:

Professional suitability: To prove that you have the knowledge and experience to operate a transport company in Switzerland, you must present one of the following documents along with your application

  • Specialist certificate issued by the Swiss Confederation,Specialist certificate issued by a member state of the European Community pertaining to your professional suitability for road traffic transport,An appropriate federal specialist certificate pertaining to the type of transport you will engage in,
  • Federal diploma as “certified operations manager in road transport” or “certified operations manager in transport and logistics”.

If you do not have any of the aforementioned documents, you will have to take an exam to prove your professional suitability. The test is carried out jointly by the commercial vehicle association ASTAG, the public transport association, and Routiers Suisses. Your knowledge of law, financial management, and technical operations and industry standards will be tested.

  • Financial capability: Managing a transport company requires significant capital. As such, you need to prove that you have the financial means to start and operate the company. The minimum capital required is CHF 11,000 for the first vehicle, and CHF 6,000 for each additional vehicle.
  • Personal reliability: Finally, you must prove that you are a reliable individual by submitting a clean criminal record that is less than three months old.

In addition to the basic permit required to operate as a transport company within Switzerland, you may require additional licenses if you plan to engage in cross-border transportation services, as well as other modes of transportation such as air or rail.

2. Choice of location

The physical location plays a significant role for transport companies. In addition to common business considerations such as taxation and regulatory regime, you should also choose your location carefully keeping in mind its access to major transport routes, proximity to your target market (industrial areas for freight and logistics transport and densely populated urban areas for passenger transport), and space for vehicle maintenance and warehouses if required.

3. Legal structure

The choice of legal structure of your transport company is a crucial decision that affects many aspects of your business, from the extent of personal liability to management and capital structure. The most common legal forms for companies in Switzerland include sole proprietorship, limited liability company (GmbH), and join-stock corporation (AG). Each structure comes with distinct advantages and requirements.

4. Analysing the market

While Switzerland makes for an ideal and opportunistic environment to start a transport company, it is also highly competitive for the same reasons. Once you know the type of transport company you want to start in Switzerland, you need to conduct comprehensive market research to identify your target market’s needs and preferences and analyse the existing competition. This will help you refine your business strategy and position yourself to offer unique and useful solutions in the transport industry.

5. Financial planning

Transport companies are capital intensive as you will need to invest in costly tangible assets, most importantly your fleet of vehicles, as well as physical premises, warehouses if required, and other equipment. You will also need to factor in the cost of trained staff, and other ongoing operational expenses such as insurance, vehicle maintenance, etc.

It is therefore important to have a detailed financial plan from the outset, which should be reviewed regularly and updated to reflect the latest developments in your position. This will help you maintain sufficient liquidity to operate your business smoothly and manage your expenditures, while turning a good profit. A trusted fiduciary partner like Nexova Treuhand AG can offer you comprehensive support in drafting a financial plan and managing your books and finances on an ongoing basis. Learn more about our comprehensive accounting services here.

6. Registering your business

Once you have completed all the preliminary steps, such as obtaining the required permits and licenses, choosing your location and legal form, and analysing the market and planning out your finances, you can proceed to officially registering your transport company in Switzerland. The specific process for registration depends primarily on the legal form you have selected. If you are registering the company as a foreign national, there may also be additional steps involved.

Nexova AG specialises in assisting with all forms of company incorporation, right from helping you to draft your business plan and articles of association to entry into the commercial register. Find out more about our company incorporation services here.

7. Putting together your fleet

Let’s not forget that the essential element of any transport company is, of course, its fleet of vehicles. Putting together your fleet is a crucial step in setting up your company and will form the backbone of a successful transportation business. While doing so, you need to carefully consider which types of vehicles will best fulfil your operational needs based on what kind of transport you intend to offer. The vehicles you purchase for your fleet should be appropriate and up to task, as well as within your planned budget. You will also have to factor in maintenance and insurance costs, fuel, and so forth. While new vehicles ensure reliability and modern features, purchasing used vehicles for your fleet can be a cost-effective alternative.

8. Hiring staff

Another primary ingredient for success is gathering the right team of professional drivers and other skilled staff members. Switzerland provides access to a well-qualified and dedicated workforce, which will come as an excellent resource when assembling a capable team. Keep the following factors in mind:

  • Qualifications and experience: Ensure your drivers have the required licenses and training, and a clean driving record.
  • Training: Consider providing regular training sessions to improve the quality and safety of your operations.
  • Employee welfare: Always keep your employees happy with fair wages and good conditions, which will naturally translate to better service.

9. Taxation and bookkeeping

Switzerland offers a generally favourable tax environment for businesses, but navigating the complexities of tax compliance and annual accounting can still be difficult, especially for foreign business-owners. This is usually made more complex for transport companies, as there are tax and bookkeeping implications associated with depreciating vehicles properly, as well as other factors to keep in mind. This can also lead to excellent opportunities for tax deductions when handled correctly.

It is therefore essential to consult with tax professionals you can trust, who can help ensure your company is compliant and guide you on ways to optimise your tax position and maximise your tax deductions. Learn more about how Nexova AG’s comprehensive accounting services can help you stay on top of your tax situation while operating in Switzerland.

10. Marketing

A recognisable brand can set your transport company apart in Switzerland’s competitive market. It is therefore worth investing in marketing campaigns, developing a professional website with engaging and accurate content which displays your expertise, and making use of social media and other ways to establish a digital presence. It is also important to network on the ground with potential clients and partners by attending local events and conferences.

Calculate the costs of your company incorporation here.


Can a foreigner establish a transport company in Switzerland?

A foreigner can certainly establish a transport company in Switzerland. However, there may be additional prerequisites and criteria to fulfil, such as obtaining a permanent residence permit and/or work permit and acquiring authorisation from the local cantonal authorities. The requirements vary depending on whether you are an EU/EFTA national, or a citizen from another country (“third-country” national).

For a detailed explanation of what it takes to start a business in Switzerland as a foreigner, read our dedicated article here.

Calculate the costs of your company incorporation here.


Nexova AG: Your reliable fiduciary partner for founding a transport company in Switzerland

Establishing a new venture, especially in a foreign country, has its challenges. With our extensive experience in the Swiss corporate landscape and expertise in company incorporation, Nexova AG is your ideal trustee and strategic partner. We have the skills to help you navigate the intricacies of starting and growing your own transport company in Switzerland by providing you with invaluable advice and support on a range of issues. We will also continue to help you along the way with our comprehensive fiduciary services that include:

Nexova AG is much more than just your online accounting provider, we are your trusted partner to success in the Swiss transportation industry.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you take your Swiss transport company to the next level and pave the way to a prosperous business!

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