Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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If the association you want to set up is a legal entity under Swiss law, it will have to meet the relevant criteria listed on our site. We recommend that you consult the following pages:

De manière pratique, afin de créer une association, il faudra convoquer une assemblée générale constitutive, lors de laquelle vous adopterez les statuts de l’association et élirez les membres du Comité. Les décisions seront consignées dans un procès-verbal.

Suite à l’adoption des statuts par l’assemblée générale, l’association dispose de la personnalité juridique. Elle peut commencer à développer ses activités.

A noter qu’en Suisse, une association (art. 60 et suivants du Code civil) n’a pas besoin de s’enregistrer auprès des autorités publiques pour pouvoir exercer une activité. Elle doit néanmoins remplir une déclaration fiscale sur une base annuelle. Pour ce faire, l’association doit s’enregistrer auprès de l’administration fiscale (voir: “Guide de la déclaration 2020“) et peut bénéficier d’une exonération fiscale sur demande (si les conditions sont remplies – cf. page fiscalité).

L’inscription d’une association au registre du commerce est souvent facultative. L’inscription est toutefois obligatoire lorsque l’association exerce une activité en la forme commerciale pour atteindre son but idéal ou est soumise à l’obligation de faire réviser ses comptes. L’inscription au registre du commerce ne joue dans tous les cas aucun rôle dans l’acquisition de la personnalité juridique. Pour davantage d’informations, nous vous invitons à consulter la page “Enregistrement“.


CAGI maintains a database of international NGOs that have their head office or a representative office in the Canton of Geneva and meet all of the following conditions:

  • § Operates on a non-profit basis
  • Is able to prove regular and concrete activity in the Canton of Geneva
  • Has a physical address (post office box alone is not sufficient) in the Canton of Geneva
  • Works in one or more of the following five areas of excellence of International Geneva: (1) peace, security and disarmament; (2) humanitarian action and law, human rights, migration; (3) labour, economy, trade, science, telecommunications; (4) health; and (5) environment and sustainable development
  • § Has a relationship with an international organization (e.g. consultative status or proven collaboration)
  • § Is active in at least two countries
  • § Does not participate in political or religious proselytizing

NGOs are added to the database free of charge. The following documents must be submitted:

  • Copy of signed statutes
  • Signed minutes of the constitutive general assembly and/or the most recent general assembly
  • List of Board members (if not included in the minutes)
  • § Most recent activity report (or, if the association has just been created, a detailed description of the association, its aims and projects)
  • Most recent balance sheet and profit and loss account (or, if the association has just been created, a projected budget)

The inclusion of an institution in the NGO Service database is purely informal and does not entail any official recognition. NGOs must complete an up-to-date profile approved by the NGO Service before they can take advantage of the services and advice available. They must update their profiles once a year by submitting an activity report, a financial report and the minutes of the general assembly.

A foundation is an entity with legal personality. One of its essential characteristics is that its assets are intended for use in pursuing an ideal goal. Rules on foundations are governed by articles 80 et seq. of the Swiss Civil Code.

The foundation must be set up by a public deed signed before a notary. A foundation is created by allocating assets for a particular purpose and is subject to oversight by the public law corporation (Confederation, canton or commune) to which it belongs by virtue of its purpose. This oversight body ensures that the foundation’s resources are used in accordance with its objectives.

This is a relatively rigid legal structure. Once the objectives have been adopted at the time of incorporation, they cannot be changed without the approval of the oversight authority.

According to the practice of the Swiss Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations, the minimum initial capital is CHF 50,000.

The foundation must have:

  • a Foundation Board
  • an Audit Board

In order to acquire legal personality, the foundation must be registered in the Commercial Registry. Foundations that operate internationally can also register with the International Geneva Welcome Centre (CAGI) . Foundations that operate internationally can also register with the CAGI.

The NGO database of the International Geneva Welcome Centre (CAGI) is an internal tool that is not accessible to the public.

The International Geneva website lists the main Geneva-based international NGOs (i.e. those that employ staff and can prove official status or collaboration with an intergovernmental organization). The site is for informational purposes and does not grant any special status.

NGOs incorporated in the form of a foundation, as well as associations that have chosen to register with the Commercial Registry, can be accessed via the Commercial Registry search engine.

Founded by the Swiss Confederation and the Republic and Canton of Geneva, the International Geneva Welcome Centre is the single entry point for the support and integration of employees of International Geneva and their families, NGOs and visiting delegates.