Assignment of business premises

How does the assignment of business premises work?

It is necessary to ensure that the activity envisaged by the company is authorized in the planned business premises.

The department has land use plans (the zoning plan, the localized neighborhood plans (PLQ) and the land use plans (PUS) in the city of Geneva) that determine precisely for which activities the different zones of the territory will be used.

In practice, this means that the possibility of locating the business in question in a certain area depends directly on the conformity of the activity to be carried out with the plans for the allocation of premises in the city. That is, it depends on the nature of the premises (an office, a store, an industry or a craft workshop) and its location in the city.

Possibilities of setting up commercial premises in the city of Geneva

Below is a description of the possibilities for the establishment of specific commercial premises in the different zones of the city of Geneva:

  • Zones 1, 2 and 3, development zones 2, 3 and meeting certain requirements, departments mainly for housing which are other than protected zones 4A, 4B, 4B and protected development zones 4A, 4B and 4B are related to trade and service sector :
  • Commercial: the arcades are primarily designed for commercial activities. It should be noted that in order to change the type of activity to be carried out in an arcade, it may be necessary to obtain authorization from the owner, but in many cases also from the municipal or cantonal authorities.
  • Office: it simply includes tertiary activities.
  • The industrial and artisanal zones, the industrial and artisanal development zones and under certain conditions the airport zone:
  • Industrial zones are designed for secondary sector businesses. That means the companies carrying out economic activities of an industrial, craft or technological nature. Storage and warehousing facilities are also likely to be accepted. As for companies operating in the field of technology, they must mainly design, develop and produce or transform tangible or intangible goods and only carry out distribution and sales on an incidental basis in order to be accepted in the industrial zone.
  • Mixed activity development zones:
  • This is a whole new type of area. It was created from a law that the Geneva Grand Council accepted in March 2012. This zone includes at least sixty percent of secondary activities (industrial and artisanal activities) and gives the opportunity to companies active in the tertiary sector to settle in the zone in an additional and assimilated way.

In addition to this, companies operating in the vicinity of Geneva Airport are subject to limitations set out in the safety zone plans and by legislation on noise protection.

All of these plans can be viewed at the Department of Planning, Housing and Energy:

Land Use Planning Window:

  • Adress : Rue David-Dufour 5
  • Case postale 224 -1211 Genève 8
  • Phone : 022 327 94 00
  • Website :

Or in the affected municipalities, including the City of Geneva:

  • Department of Buildings and Development and Housing Services:
  • Adress : Rue du Stand 25 -1204 Genève
  • Phone : 022 418 60 50
  • Website :

It is possible to find several industrial and artisanal departments on the territory of the canton of Geneva, the majority of which are managed by the Foundation for Industrial Land in Geneva (FTI):

  • Adress : Avenue de la Praille 50
  • P.O. Box : 1115 -1211 Genève 26
  • Phone : 022 342 21 60
  • Website :

A change of premises must be accompanied by a request for permission from the Department of Planning, Housing and Energy. In cases where the company’s activity is similar to the expected assignment, the Department generally accepts the company’s transfer. In the event that the activity is not suitable for the area of use, permission may hypothetically be granted by way of derogation, following a public inquiry, if the facts justify it and if it does not cause significant inconvenience to the surroundings.

Apart from these eventualities, land use plans can only be changed through a usually long and complicated procedure. It should also be noted that the law on demolitions, alterations and renovations of residential buildings prohibits the change of use of residential buildings.

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