Switzerland is banning the issue of bearer shares by unlisted companies from 1 November 2019. 

The Swiss Federal Council have brought into force the Federal Act on the Implementation of Recommendations of the OECD's Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum) on 1 November 2019. 

  • Bearer shares only remain permitted if the company has equity securities listed on a stock exchange or if the bearer shares are structured as intermediated securities.
  • Impermissible bearer shares will automatically be converted into registered shares 18 months after entry into force, i.e. on 1 May 2021.
  • The act also provides for a procedure to identify shareholders who have not complied with their duty to report to the company and whose shares have been converted.
  • Shares held by non-registered shareholders will become void five years after the entry into force of the act, i.e. on 1 November 2024.

The UK partly implemented the OECD's recommendations on 26 May 2015: the provisions of the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 prohibit UK companies from issuing bearer shares.

Useful guides

Issuing shares: planning points & pitfalls
A practical guide on how to issue new shares in a company together with a summary of some of the pitfalls if an issue fails to qualify for tax purposes.

What is an ordinary share for tax purposes?
It is essential to know whether a share is ordinary as this sets the qualifying conditions for numerous tax reliefs

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