Switzerland has long been a business hub for international companies looking to expand their businesses throughout Europe. The favorable trade agreements, and good business tax rates, mean Switzerland does not lack for companies wishing to set up an office in the area, even though the country is not part of the EU itself.
The Swiss economy has remained stable despite ongoing economic issues around much of Europe and Swiss businesses are doing well in the competitive market place, and many are still growing their staff and footprint.
In 2012, Lucerne made further cuts to its business tax rates, giving it the lowest rates of corporate tax in the entire country. It is thus considered an extremely business-friendly area, and has attracted a wide range of international businesses to operate their Swiss office from the city.
There are also extremely reasonable rates of personal income tax, the 4th best in Switzerland, with just 2% difference between Lucerne and the areas offering the lowest rates according to BAKBasel Economics taxation index in 2012.
The vast majority of those working in Lucerne are part of the secondary or tertiary sector, with around 7000 businesses registered in the city. The local government is keen to encourage business growth and attract new businesses, so business rates and commercial real estate costs are typically kept at a reasonable rate.
Although tourist visas are not generally required for short trips to Switzerland, you will need a work visa if you are planning on taking up a permanent or long-term contract with a Swiss company. Many larger companies who operate internationally are able to arrange these relatively easily, with the responsibility on the company to ensure that you are a suitable candidate for work and residency.
If you do not yet have a job secured in the area, EU citizens are generally allowed to come in to Lucerne for a period of three months whilst looking for work. This time may be extended to six months, upon provision of evidence that the expat is engaged in an active job hunt — for example, if you are part way through interviews with a company.
Job hunters who are not from the EU or a country in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) must have a guaranteed job, and work visa supplied by the employer, before coming to Lucerne. Family members of a permit holder have the right to reside in Lucerne as well, irrespective of their own nationality.