All companies operating in Switzerland receive a business identification number (UID). The UID number will serve as the comapny's single identification number for all contacts with the administration and other authorities.The UID registry is maintained by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) to ensure the allocation, management and proper use of the UID. In this way, data can be exchanged efficiently and reliably between the business community and the administration.

Companies in the public administration have numerous different identification numbers, which means that data from several administrative processes could not be used in a coordinated manner. And this can lead to duplication, putting an unnecessary administrative burden on companies and administration. Thus, the Federal Statistical Office has established a uniform means of identification for companies, under the "Uniform Business Identifier" project. In this way, UID makes it easier for companies to deal with authorities and simplifies the exchange of information between the Confederation, cantons, and communes. When the data is carried out in a single register reference, the administrative burden is significantly reduced.

Company Register

Business Register Data data consists mainly of information gathered through surveys and administrative data (old age and survivors' insurance - OASI, value added tax - VAT and data on imports and exports of goods). This information is prepared, validated and made available for compiling statistics. In addition, some surveys allow updating the structure, economic activity and the number of employees in the Businesses and Enterprises Register (BER).

BER contains all enterprises, firms, and companies, including public sector companies headquartered in Switzerland. This register is maintained by the Federal Statistical Office. The computerized database is used for statistics, research, and planning, on businesses and workplaces. It is continuously updated and also responds to specific questions from the Confederation. Also, many cantons and other federal government offices use this registry for statistical or administrative purposes.

Based on the Business and Enterprises Register (BER), which is the reference, the UID register was created. It is available to the public on the internet in accordance with data protection provisions and contains the minimum data necessary to identify UID units.

Introducing UID

The Enterprise Identification Number was introduced in the administration of large companies' registers. The commercial and VAT register use UID from 2014 and is also integrated into each of the 90 AHV compensation funds from the beginning of 2016.

Currently, the UID must be provided by Swiss companies, both on import and export. Moreover, the UID is increasingly used to identify private sector companies. Many companies have also chosen to add this unique identification number to their customer bases.

Use of UID

UID use aims to increase administrative efficiency by reducing the administrative burden on enterprises.

Between the economy and the administration. There are numerous and varied contacts between businesses and public administration: registration in the commercial register, VAT and AHV / AVS declarations or customs declarations. Therefore, when contacting the administration, enterprises use a unique number, the UID. Thus, the data exchange within the administration is done through a central platform, the UID registry. In this way, enterprises only enter their original data once, eliminating the need to introduce it every time they address the authorities. At the same time, through the UID system, new registrations, headquarters transfers, name and address changes, and deletion of businesses are automatically sent to the relevant administrative service.

Between enterprises. By using the UID as a universal identifier, exchanges with customers, suppliers, or other trading partners are simpler and more reliable. It also facilitates the management of the company's own directories. What's more, through the UID register, you can find information about economic agents, having access to changes of address or business closure, greatly improving the level of information in everyday businesses.

In the administration. Cooperation between authorities becomes easier by UID, which simplifies the exchange of data between administrative services. Due to the numerous data sources that fill the UID registry, the administrative services have a high-quality business register that is complete and up-to-date.

Who receives a UID?

The UID entities include both Swiss active business and those in public administration that meet the characteristics of an enterprise or need to be identified for legal or administrative purposes. Companies and institutions have no costs by operating in the UID register and they have no other obligation to the administration.

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

We mention that the UID is randomly generated, consists of 9 numbers, and does not contain enterprise information (anonymous identifier). The prefix "CHE" indicates the Swiss origin of the number, and the UID suffix makes the difference between UID units registered in the commercial register or subject to value-added tax.

For more details and assistance regarding company formation and obtaining a UID number in Switzerland, feel free to reach out to our expert consultants. Our highly experienced and well-informed team is ready to answer all your questions and give you all the help you might need.

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