Private Law Division

Civil Law and Law of Civil Procedure Unit

The Civil Law and Civil Procedure Unit prepares legislation in the fields of civil law, civil procedure, and debt enforcement and bankruptcy law. The unit is also responsible for private law, family law and inheritance law, as well as contract law and non-contractual civil liability matters. In addition to its legislative work, the Unit also prepares reports and opinions for the Federal Council, provides legal information to the Administration and the cantons, and works on a variety of other projects. The Unit is also responsible for overseeing the Consumer Credit Information Office.

Private International Law Unit

The Private International Law Unit is responsible for legislation on private international law and international civil procedure law (PILA, international treaties and implementing provisions).

It represents Switzerland in international organisations that prepare international treaties and model laws and at international conferences on the practical application and development of existing agreements. These include the Hague Conference on Private International Law, UNCITRAL (UN Commission on International Trade Law), UNIDROIT (International Institute for the Unification of Private Law) and the Standing Committee for the Lugano Convention.

The Private International Law Unit is also involved in applying the law. It is the Swiss Confederation’s Central Authority for matters relating to international child and adult protection, for international child abduction cases, for international adoptions and for international maintenance matters. It also advises other public authorities on international inheritance matters and, together with the International Legal Assistance Division, is responsible for international mutual assistance in civil matters.

Federal Civil Status Office

The Federal Civil Status Office (FCSO) exercises oversight in matters of civil status. It draws up the federal legislation and deals with parliamentary proposals in this field. It oversees the cantonal civil status supervisory authorities and ensures that the law is applied consistently throughout Switzerland, issuing directives to the cantons and to Swiss representations abroad. It also brings appeals in the cantonal courts and the Federal Supreme Court against decisions made by civil status authorities. In addition, the FCSO maintains the Swiss register of data on sperm donors and provides information to persons conceived in Switzerland after 1 January 2001 through sperm donation.

Infostar Unit

The Infostar Unit is responsible for operating and developing the electronic civil register (Infostar).

The Unit's specific remit includes ensuring the reliable running of the Infostar database, advising and supporting cantonal supervisory authorities on questions and problems relating to Infostar, handling complex questions about the new system of OASI (social security) numbers, modifying and developing software in connection with legislative projects, and developing new IT projects.

Federal Office for Land Registry and Real Estate Law

The Federal Office for Land Registry and Real Estate Law (FOLR) is responsible for the legislation on land registration and real estate law and oversees the land and ship registers and the pledge of livestock. Issues relating to private law certification procedures also fall within its remit.

The FOLR is also responsible for legislative projects relating to the purchase of real estate by people who are not resident in Switzerland (Lex Koller). As the authority with the right to appeal, it reviews cantonal rulings on the acquisition of real estate by persons resident abroad and, where appropriate, files appeals with the cantonal appeals bodies or the Federal Supreme Court.

Federal Commercial Registry Office

The Federal Commercial Registry Office (FCRO) oversees the keeping of Switzerland’s cantonal commercial registers. It ensures that the federal law is applied correctly and consistently by the cantonal authorities, primarily by issuing directives on commercial registry law and the law on business names, and by ensuring that cantonal register entries comply with the law. In addition, FCRO keeps a central register of all the legal entities that are recorded in the cantonal commercial registers. The central register is used in enquiries to establish whether a business name is identical or similar to one already registered. These name searches can be requested by post or online ( The central register and the cantonal commercial registers together form the primary authoritative database for registered business identification numbers (BINA). The public data in the central register is accessible online via the Zefix internet database ( Zefix can be used to search for the address of any legal entity in Switzerland. The FCRO is also responsible for legislative projects in the field of company law.


For the complete documentation see the pages in German, French or Italian.

Last modification 29.04.2021

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Federal Office of Justice
Private Law Division
Bundesrain 20
CH-3003 Bern
T +41 58 462 41 82
F +41 58 462 78 79

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