Content . . Concept How to use Liability

Terminology

. In the following, the term '(business) name' is used for the names of sole proprietorships, general or limited partnerships and corporate bodies (corporations, corporations with unlimited partners, limited liability companies, cooperatives, non-profit associations, foundations).

Data source

. The Central Business Names Index on the internet is based on the Central Register of the Federal Commercial Registry Office and is regularly updated. Details of the update status are shown in the hit list and in the detail display.

Data quantity

Completeness

Data quality

. One of the functions of the Central Register administered by the Federal Commercial Registry Office is to ensure the so-called 'right of uniqueness' of registered business names. The Central Register is kept as a database since 1990 and presently contains some 670'000 active (461'000) and cancelled (205'000) Swiss business names, and in addition approx. 27000 (14'000 active, 13'000 cancelled) branch offices of inland and foreign companies. Corporate bodies are all registered. All active and all since 1.1.2000 cancelled general or limited partnerships and sole proprietorships are registered as well. The user should, in addition, be aware that sole proprietorships need only register under certain conditions (see Commercial Register Ordinance 52-56). Not needing to register are in particular the independent professions (doctors, dentists, veterinary doctors, engineers, architects, solicitors) and most agricultural businesses.

The Central Business Names Index contains also the entries published in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce for the period mentioned in the title, actually 12 months backwards.

The data and information contained in the Central Business Names Index are provided without warranty and have no effect in law whatsoever. Legally binding are solely the certified extract from the register and the published entry in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce. Before suing for payment of debt or taking legal action, we therefore strongly recommend you to get confirmation that the data on the current legal domicile of the entered business name is correct by obtaining a certified extract from the cantonal commercial register office. The official legal address of a legal subject can be obtained from the cantonal commercial register office in charge. This information is not available to the Federal Commercial Registry Office.


Available
Information
from the
Central Business
Names Index

. The following information on each legal subject is available in the Central Business Names Index:
  • current registered business name
  • former versions of the business name (as available, from 1990 onwards)
  • registered translations of the business name (as available, but not when the suffix for the legal form, e.g. XY AG - XY Ltd - XY SA, alone has been translated)
  • legal form (with the restriction that corporations with unlimited partners and registered public-law corporations only appear under the common term 'other legal forms')
  • legal domicile (political municipality)
  • legal address (for all active companies)
  • purpose (for all active companies)
  • former legal domicile (from January 1st 2000 onwards)
  • cross-reference from main offices to branch offices (if appropriate)
  • status of the business name/company (when in dissolution or when cancelled)
  • date of cancellation (when business name is cancelled)
  • (new swisswide) identification number (provided it has already been issued and updated)
  • internal Central Register Identification number (EHRA-ID No., must be indicated for requested corrections)
  • entries published in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce for the period mentioned in the title, actually 12 months back.

Further linked
information

(Cantonal data)

. Starting at the legal domicile displayed, the contact page of the cantonal commercial register office in charge can be displayed via hyper link.

Starting from the swisswide identification number, the register entry of the corresponding legal subject in the cantonal server can be accessed/displayed.

Provided the regulations issued by the Federal Commercial Registry Office are adhered to (circular concerning the electronic transmission of commercial register data), it is a matter for the individual cantons to decide whether or not to provide commercial register data to the public via the internet. The cantons also decide whether or not to charge for this service.


Search in the
Central Business
Names Index

. Main access is via a powerful full-text search targeting business names and their translations. By default the search is extended to former versions and cancelled business names. It may also be restricted to active business names and/or a particular legal form and/or a particular cantonal commercial register and/or legal seat. Alternately, the new identification number may be targeted

In the Central Business Names Index, no provision is made for locating persons and their status within companies. Indeed, no persons / organs / representative functions are contained in the Central Register of the Federal Commercial Registry Office (the data source of the Central Business Names Index).

Concept Content . How to use Liability

Decentralized
administration of
the register

Centralized control
and publication

. The Swiss Commercial Register is administered by the cantons under the supervision of the Swiss Confederation. In the 26 cantons, there are some 28 commercial register offices in total. All the commercial register entries made by the cantonal register offices are published in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce (SOGC) after having been checked and approved by the Federal Commercial Registry Office.

The entries which are relevant to the Central Register are then added to it (with regard to content) and provided with the relevant Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce reference (e.g. 98/159).


Confidentiality
of data

. The commercial register data (Federal Central Register, Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce, cantonal register data and registration forms) are absolutely non-confidential. Indeed, the information published in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce is legally presumed to be known.

Index function

The
Central Business
Names Index
provides convenient
access

. The principal purpose of the Central Business Names Index on internet is to provide a convenient and powerful swisswide search function, and thus provide the public with a service to determine the legal domicile, the cantonal commercial register office in charge, and the latter's address.

Before suing for payment of debt or taking legal action, we advise you to ensure that the information on the current legal domicile of the registered firm is correct by requesting from the cantonal commercial register office in charge a certified extract from the Commercial Register.

The Central Business Names Index can also be used by the public to check whether or not the proposed name of a new business or change of name collides with that of an existing name.

Before starting a new business or changing an existing business name, we also strongly advise you to have the experienced personnel of the Federal Commercial Registry Office check whether the proposed name is likely to lead to difficulties in respect of other existing business names. The Central Business Names Index does not allow a reliable search for similar business names. A name search by the Federal Commercial Registry Office costs CHF 50.--. Orders are only accepted by fax (No. ++41 (0)31 322 44 83) or by post (not, however, by E-Mail or telephone).


Provider function

the Central
Business Names
Index - basic
infrastructure for a
swisswide network

. A second objective that will undoubtedly prove of equal significance in the future is the provider function of the Central Business Names Index for cantonal commercial register data on the internet. 

The user can access or display the detailed information of the cantonal commercial register directly via a hyper link on the swisswide identification number.

How to use Content Concept . Liability

User's
Interface

. The user's interface is divided vertically into a search frame and a display/navigation frame. Before a search is carried out, a list with the shields and names of the cantons are shown in the display/navigation frame. The underlined Cantons provide their data on the internet; their system is liked to Zefix via the identification number.

Click the canton's shield to display the cantonal commercial register offices. After carrying out the search, the hit list or, based on this (link on + or +++), the detailed company display and, if available, translations of the business name, former versions of the name, reference to the main office, a list of the branch offices and the entries published in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce (for the period mentioned in the title, actually 12 month back), will be displayed.

The Central Business Names Index is, in fact, a network linking federal administration data to those of the registers in the cantons.  To distinguish the cantonal data, the latter are displayed on a different background, mostly white, and as a rule with the relevant cantonal shield as 'watermark'. At the top of the screen, the cantonal shield and the designation of the cantonal commercial register office are always displayed.


Search frame

. The search frame contains the input boxes for your inquiry:
  • 'Search for business name' (input zone)
  • 'Search for identification number' (input zone)
  • 'Legal status restriction' (selection list)
  • 'Commercial register restriction' (selection list)
  • 'Legal seat restriction (input zone)

The search criteria provided in each of the five  input boxes are cumulative (AND condition). When several criteria are entered in the 'Search for business name' box, these are likewise cumulated. In the input, no distinction is made between capitalized and normal text. Characters such as may all be replaced by the corresponding character without an accent. The criteria entered in 'Search for business name apply both to the name itself and also to it's registered translations. Thus it is only logical that a search for 'credito svizzero' will also find 'Credit Suisse'.

Using the 'Clear' button, you can delete previously entered criteria, and with the 'search' button you can begin the search. For this, at least three consecutive characters must be entered in the 'Search for business name' box or, alternately, the swiss identification number (CH-number) must be entered in the respective box. The input criteria, number of hits and hit list containing the first 1000 business names appear in the display/navigation frame.

Using 'Search options', you can restrict the default 'include former versions / cancelled names' to '(only) actual (active) business names'. The list of hits in the display/navigation frame will show active business names in bold type and previous versions or cancelled names in normal type.

If you are unsure of the correct spelling (e.g. Meier, Mayer or Maier), activate the 'phonetic search'. (Beware: the phonetic search does not convert German umlauts, so that a search for 'Mller' will not find 'Mueller').


Display/
navigation frame

Hit list

Detail display

Explanation of
symbols

Navigation

Access to cantonal
data

. After carrying out a successful search, you will see at the top of the display/navigation frame the search criteria, number of hits, status and (below) list of hits. In the list of hits, you are provided with the following information (from left to right):
  • business names
  • legal domicile (political municipality ),
  • legal status (e.g.. Ltd., company limited by shares, branch)
  • status 'in dissolution' and, for cancelled business names
    'canelled publicat. DD.MM.YYYY'
  • '+' or '+++' (request for detail display),
  • new swisswide identification number (if already issued and updated); cantonal data are only directly accessible via hyper link if the corresponding cantonal server has been set-up and linked to the Central Business Names Index.

Actual business names are shown in bold type, former versions and cancelled names in normal type.

The link to the legal domicile takes you to the contact page of the cantonal register in charge (contact page). This is updated by the Federal Commercial Registry Office based on cantonal commercial register office data. Now click the 'back' button in the top bar of the browser until the list of hits reappears.

The '+' symbol means that no further information concerning the business name is available. The '+++' symbol means that, in addition, former versions of the name and/or references between main office and branch offices are and/ore publications of the Swiss Offical Gazette of Commerce available . When the hyper link '+' or '+++' is selected, the details will be displayed. Starting from the detail display, you further navigate using the same symbols/links as described above. To return to the list of hits, click the 'back' button in the top bar of the browser until the list of hits reappears.

The new (13 digit) swisswide identification number is displayed in the form CH-RRR.X.XXX.XXX-P. RRR is the number of the commercial register office which first registered the business name or which issued the number, X stands for the number itself, and P is a check digit.

When the hyper link is activated on the new identification number (usually underlined in blue), you can display the register entry on the internet server of the corresponding cantonal commercial register office by selecting it. Cantonal data are displayed on a contrasting background (usually white with cantonal shield as 'watermark'), that is superimposed on the user's interface of the Central Business Names Index. To return to the user's interface and the list of hits, click the 'back' button in the top bar of the browser until the list of hits reappears.

The detail display shows hyper links and symbols having the same functions as in the list of hits. The link to the symbol '+++' permits navigation in the detail display from main offices to branch offices and vice-versa.
.


normal Search

. The normal search does a precise search: every occurrence matching the key is shown. The capitals and the small letters, as well as the letters with and without accents, are equivalent.

For a valid search, at least three consecutive characters must be entered in the 'Search for business name' box or, alternately, the swiss identification number (CH-number) must be entered in the respective box. Several strings of consecutive characters are cumulative (no explicit 'and' operator must be written). Criteria in all  of the 5 search boxes are cumulative too. A search with the boolean 'or' is not possible.
By the two other search boxes you can restrict the search to a specific legal status and/or to a specific canton/commercial register district and/or the legal seat.
Using 'Search options', you can restrict the default 'include former versions / cancelled names' to '(only) actual (active) business names'.
The sign '_' stands for a blank space.

The way the search functions is illustrated below with several examples:

The input of a string of at least three characters will find all business names which contain this string at any location within any of the words of the name or it's translations. For example: input of "ofa" finds 'Wohnbaugenossenschaft Wofa', 'St. Christophorus Autofahrer und Chauffeur Club', etc..

Also, several character strings may be input in sequence. The more characters per string and the more strings that are used for the search, the quicker the search is made.

If you search a particular word of a business name or of it's translations, enter it as in the following example:
_mofa_ (the sign _ stands for a blank space)

The results will show 'Fahrrad, Mofa Ersatzteile AG' but not 'Promoface AG'.
Should you search for a name or a translation which begins or ends with a specific string, omit the underscore at the beginning or at the end of the string. If two or more words must occur in sequence, type an underscore between them. To search a business name which begins with a specific word, you should enter the following sing twice "_" (example: __ubs_).

Abbreviations can be registered in various ways. The characters in the abbreviation can be written without a space, e.g. TIS, WM, or be separated by a period, space or special character, e.g. T.I.S., C&A, C + A. To improve searching for abbreviations, those are indexed in addition in a special way suppressing blancs, dots and commas. By entering the search terms in the examples below, you will get the following results:

_TIS_ = 'TIS', 'T.I.S.', 'T. I. S. '
_abc_ = 'a b c', 'a.b.c.', 'a. b. c.'
_a+b_ = 'a+b', 'a + b', 'a.+b.', 'a. + b. '
_a&b_ = 'a&b', 'a & b', 'a.&b.', 'a. & b. '
_a-b_ = 'a-b', 'a - b', 'a.-b.', 'a. - b. '
_r_meier = 'r meier', 'r. meier', 'r. meierhans', etc.
_r_meier_ = 'r meier', 'r. meier', (mais pas 'r. meierhans')

In the database, '&' is often replaced by the '+' character, and thus does not always correspond to the official spelling of the business name. For a better result, you should always carry out the search using both a '+' and a '&' sign.
e.g.  _C&A_ or _C+A_

The business names often contain words or abbreviations with less than three consecutive characters, e.g. 'Z AG', 'WM Boutique'. A simple search using Z AG would be an insufficient/invalid search criterion, and using WM Boutique as search criterion - as the first character string contains less than three characters - the letters 'WM' would be suppressed as invalid. To avoid this, carry out the search using the following string:
e.g _Z_ or _Z_AG or _Z_AG_, WM_ or _WM_ or WM_Boutique

When searching for a single character, an underscore must always be placed in front of and behind the character (one character plus two underscores = 3 characters). With two characters, to insure that the search criterion is valid, at least one underscore must be placed in front of or behind the character string.

A search for the persons in law whose names contain 'A - Z', 'A Z', 'A to Z' can be entered as follows:
_A_ _Z_

By this means, all business names will be found which contain both of the letters A and Z separately (alone) and in an arbitrary sequence at any place within the business name (or it's translations).


phonetic Search

. The phonetic search does a rough search: every occurrence whose coding is the same as that of the key will be shown. The coding rules are different for each language and try to follow their phonetic particularities. Example: the phonetic search of "Meyer" give "Meier", "Maier" and "Mayer" too.

In the practice, that method works well, although the results aren't satisfactory in specific cases. It allows you to search for pieces of words, what the Soundex method cannot, and takes care of vowels in german, french and italian. It gets often better results than the Soundex method. For example, the string "Meyer" allows you to find "Mayer" and "Meier" too, but will not find the words "Marie" or "Maya", which are found with Soundex. That method is useful if Soundex delivers too many matches.

The special code '_' can be used to reduce the number of matches.


Soundex-Search

. The Soundex phonetic search does a search based on the first letter and the consonants it contains. It therefore works for full words only, and allows you to find words whose vowels are unknown. The coding rules are different for each language.

In the practice, that method can get bad results, although it's proved in flight reservation systems. The searching key must be full words only. It is efficient to find words containing at least 3 consonants after the first letter. Less consonants will increase the matching list and the searching time.

The code '_' has no meaning in the Soundex method.


Search for SOGC

.

Via the hyperlink "Search for SOGC", you can carry out different searches. The following possibilities are available:

1. Search for SOGC publications with a specific date (default-value is the last edition of the SOGC). The following restrictions can also be entered:

- legal status
- commercial registry (office)
- type of modification

These search restrictions allow, for example, to search all SOGC publications published 19th October 2005 concerning new registrations of limited companies in the canton of Zurich.

The following restrictions regarding the content of the SOGC publications are available:

Status modifications (all)
   - New registrations
   - Dissolutions (all)
       - Dissolutions due to liquidation
       - Dissoultions due to bankruptcy
       - Dissolutions due to transformation
       - Dissolutions due to merger
   - Revocations of dissolution
   - Deletions (without "technical" deletions due to transfer of legal seat)
   - Reregistrations
Changes of business name
Changes of legal status
Changes in the activity
Changes in the capital (all)
   - nominal capital
   - contribution
   - number and/or value of shares
Address changes (all)
   - with transfer of legal seat
   - without transfer of legal seat
Organ and representation changes
Publications without qualification (none of the above and "technical deletions du to transfer of legal seat)

The qualifying of the SOGC publications is operated by the Federal Commercial Registry Office once the entries made by the cantonal register offices have been checked and approved.

 2. Search according to the publication number (this number is mentioned in brackets below the entry published in the SOGC).

The result is a list of business names with SOGC publication details. This hit list leads via hyperlink (+ or +++) to the information contained in Zefix and to the SOGC publications (by activating the identification number you can also call the cantonal data).

Liability Content Concept How to use .
. . The data and references contained in the Central Business Names Index are provided without warranty and have no legal effect whatsoever. Legally binding are solely the certified extracts issued by the commercial register office in charge and the published entry in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce.