In Switzerland, foreigners may only buy real estate under certain conditions. The law "Lex Koller" regulates which permits are required for foreigners to purchase real estate in Switzerland. There are differences between residential and commercial real estate. Engel & Völkers Commercial has developed a guide together with the renowned Swiss business law firm Bär & Karrer. It offers you a first insight into the subject of real estate ownership in Switzerland, but of course it cannot replace legal and tax advice. If you wish to purchase Swiss real estate, you should seek the assistance of a specialist law firm.
The Lex Koller applies to persons abroad. This includes foreigners resident abroad and foreigners resident in Switzerland who are neither citizens of an EU or EFTA (European Free Trade Association) country nor have a valid settlement permit.
This means that a remarkably large group of persons may freely acquire real estate in Switzerland. This includes Swiss/dual citizens with residence in Switzerland or abroad, EU/EFTA citizens with legal and actual residence in Switzerland and citizens of other countries with a special permit (C permit) and actual residence in Switzerland.
Acquisition via a legal entity can only take place if the company is both domiciled in Switzerland and is managed by persons who are domiciled or resident in Switzerland. The detour via a Swiss company limited by shares therefore does not work for foreigners. Relevant for the authorisation requirement is the status of the underlying natural person who is the "beneficial owner".
In principle, single and multiple-family houses, condominiums and building land for such buildings require a permit - thus foreigners cannot acquire them. Undeveloped land requires a permit if the construction of a building that does not require a permit is not begun within one year. Conversely, this means that all buildings with permanent commercial use are freely acquirable by foreigners.
You can find detailed information in our Lex Koller guide. The experts at Engel & Völkers Commercial will be happy to help you with advice and practical assistance in real estate matters. Find our consultants in your region here.