CRIF has investigated how many of the businesses entered into the Commercial Register are economically active and how many of these businesses are ghost companies. In Switzerland, there are 202,115 ghost companies, which is equivalent to 29.3% of all the businesses entered into the Commercial Register. The highest number of ghost companies are domiciled in the Canton of Zurich (34'419), followed by the Canton of Vaud (20,095) and the Canton of Bern (18,468).
A look at the overall portfolio of companies reveals that the Canton of Jura is home to the highest percentage of ghost companies, at 37%. The lowest percentage of inactive companies is reported by the Canton of Ticino, at 24.2%.
Most of the ghost companies are in the sector that covers the “Provision of professional, scientific and technical activities” (40,968), which includes businesses offering tax consultancy, auditing and management consultancy services. This is followed by the sectors covering the “Retail trade and repair of motor vehicles” (33,045) and “Other services” (14,845).
Our investigation of the legal forms of the businesses produced the following picture: Most ghost companies are to be found among sole traders, where over 50% of the registered businesses are inactive. Next come general partnerships, where 42.7% are inactive, and charitable foundations (29.8%). The lowest level of inactive companies is found among the “Aktiengesellschaft” or Public Limited Company form of business (14.1%).
About the survey process
This survey examined the commercial activity of all those businesses that had existed for at least 18 months. Any companies that neither apply for credit, nor purchase goods or services, nor publicise any revisions in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce were defined as ghost companies. The reference date for this survey is 13 October 2021.
The full study can be requested from firstname.lastname@example.org.