The Swiss public administration used various identification numbers for companies which caused disruptions in the administrative processes and put an unnecessary burden on both the Swiss administration and on companies established in Switzerland. Within the framework of a Government project, the Federal Statistical Office established a uniform means of identification for companies in order to avoid duplicate entries. This is known under the name of uniform business identifier, or simply put UID number. The introduction of the UID number simplified the information exchange process between the Confederation, local cantonal and communal authorities. The data is updated in one register used for reference, which simplifies the administrative processes related to Swiss companies.
Introduction of UID number in Switzerland
The UID number has been used in the company registers. The VAT register and the Swiss Commercial register have been using the UID number to identify companies since 2014. Since the start of 2016, the UID number has also been integrated with some of the 90 AHV compensation funds in Switzerland. Swiss companies with import and export activities are required to provide the UID number in order to be able to perform these operations.
Even though the UID number has been initially used by companies from the public sector, it’s now used by an increasing number of companies from the private sector as well. The UID number has been integrated with customer bases of many Swiss companies.
More than 300 administrative units have been introduced in various registers such as federal administrative units, cantonal administrative units, private institutions and public bodies. The administrative units have duties in accordance with the UID legislation in order.
Eligibility for UID number
UID units are considered all institutions and enterprises that are identified by an UID number. These are not only enterprises that are active strictly in Switzerland, but also all those who are clients of the public administration that present the characteristics of an enterprise or are required to be identified for administrative, legal or statistical purposes. Registering for an UID number doesn’t imply any further obligations to the Swiss administration.
UID units that can apply for an UID number are the following:
- Companies registered in the Swiss Commercial Register;
- Companies that are subject of the VAT;
- Self-employed persons;
- Persons registered into cantonal lawyers registers;
- Foreign companies with offices in Switzerland;
- Public administration units;
- Public law institutions;
- Simple partnerships;
Use of UID number
The UID number can be used to exchange information between enterprises and the Swiss public administration, between enterprises and between Swiss authorities.
In addition, the UID register has become a centralized platform for data exchange with significant advantages. For example, the original information regarding an enterprise are introduced only once, without the need to introduce them each time the respective enterprise has to deal with Swiss authorities. Changes made to the original information such as new registrations, changes of offices, names and addresses, as well as the deletion of enterprises are automatically updated as the information is sent to all the relevant administrative services through the UID system.
The information provided by the UID number is public and accessible through the UID register, which enables companies to find information about business partners, clients or suppliers, as well as updated data on economic agents.
All types of Swiss business structures, newly-formed companies or self-employed persons should check if they are eligible to apply for an UID number and can acquire the services of a specialized firm for support in this matter.