All companies operating in Switzerland are issued with what is known as a company identification number (UID). The Federal Law on the Company Identification Number (UID) came into effect in January 2011 making it obligatory to acquire one.

What is the UID number?

A UID is issued to every company active in Switzerland. It is a clear cross-functional identifier, which can be used for reference in business relationships with other companies, administrations and authorities.UID has also been the valid identification number for the commercial register (UID HR), for the VAT authority (UID VAT) as well as for the federal customs administration and the AHV compensation funds as of 2014.

Purpose of the UID number

The UID serves to make identification of companies easier in contact with the administration. This includes the settlement of VAT, the AHV contributions, the completion of customs declarations, but also new entries, changes regarding the company’s offices, changes of names and addresses as well as deletions of companies are automatically forwarded to the administrative offices using the UID system. The UID also facilitates contact with customers, suppliers and other business partners. It is instrumental in the maintenance and comparison of directories. The central UID register makes it easy to retrieve the latest company data from all economic operators.

Who receives a UID?

Generally, all companies and institutions operating in Switzerland receive a UID. Other entities also eligible for a UID include "public administration clients". These are considered to have characteristics of a company or are otherwise to be identified for legal, administrative or statistical purposes.
While individual companies receive a unique UID number, branches of a company do not receive a separate UID. However the branches of a company entered in the HR have their own UID. Foreign companies that have a Swiss office or postal address are eligible for a UID number. The Federal Statistical Office provides a more exhaustive summary on which units and companies are able to receive an UID number.

Below are entities that need to register for a UID number

  • Each enterprise registered in the Swiss Commercial Register

  • Entities subject to value-added tax

  • Self-employed persons

  • A UID is assigned to each registered lawyer in the cantonal lawyers' register. The same applies to non-self-employed persons, but they are associates of a joint stock company or a simple partnership.

  • Simple partnerships such as group practices. The condition is that the simple partnership meets the criteria for admission to AHV / AVS or VAT and is registered there.

  • Foreign enterprises with a head office in Switzerland. If a foreign company is based exclusively abroad and does not have an address in Switzerland, will not get a UID.

  • Farms and agricultural cooperatives that are registered in a cantonal agricultural register. Part-time farms or those working collectively to meet ecological requirements are not assigned a UID. These farms are managed by each partner.

  • Public administration units. The Confederation, federal departments and offices have all their own UID, at the federal level. The organizational unit attached to the Confederation, the canton or commune registered in the trade register, will also be identified with a UID. Where registration in the commercial register is removed or if the entity is no longer subject to VAT, the corresponding UID is deleted.

  • Public law institutions

  • Associations

How does a company obtain a UID number?

A company connected to a UID office - for example, registered with the commercial register, with an industry register or for VAT purposes, will automatically receive a UID number. Companies not registered at any UID office can apply for a UID number directly at the Federal Statistical Office.

How much does an UID number cost and what does it include?

The inclusion in the UID register is free for all companies. A company acquiring a UID number does not incur any additional obligations to the administration.

Where can you look up UID numbers?

Federal Statistical Office maintains a publicly accessible UID register for the purposes of the correct allocation, administration and use of the UID number. The register reveals the key features of all registered companies. Companies without entry in a public register are visible in the UID register by default only for the administration. However, they can voluntarily share their data for publication and then also access all e - Government services offered by the Swiss administration.

Can companies change their UID data on their own?

Companies are only authorized to change their e-mail or website address in the UID registry. Additionally, they can update their entry by introducing an additional name for example for specifying the economic activity and the language preferences can be set.

Our Swiss incorporation specialists can assist you in matters regarding the UID number for your organization. They have the necessary knowledge needed to determine if a company is eligible for UID register and how to obtain. 


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