Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad (PSSA)

The Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad (PSSA) requires companies intending to provide private security services from Switzerland to notify the competent authority in advance. 

The Federal Council determined that the State Secretariat of the FDFA should be the competent authority. The Export Controls and Private Security Services Section (ECPS) is operationally responsible for implementing the PSSA and publishes annual reports.

The aims of the PSSA

The aims of the PSSA are as follows:

  • safeguarding the internal and external security of Switzerland;
  • realising Switzerland's foreign policy objectives;
  • preserving Swiss neutrality; and
  • guaranteeing compliance with international law and, in particular, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.

The scope of the PSSA

The PSSA governs the provision of private security services, which include the protection of persons, the guarding of property and buildings in complex environments, and security services at events. The definition of 'security services' in the PSSA also includes services supplied to armed and security forces, intelligence activities, and services relating to prisoners or detainees. The PSSA also applies to services provided in connection with private security services, i.e. training, recruitment, placement or the provision of staff for private security services abroad.

The PSSA applies to individuals, legal entities and partnerships that set up, establish, operate or manage companies providing such services in Switzerland, or exercise control over such companies from Switzerland.

The PSSA prohibits any individuals or legal entities and partnerships falling within its scope from engaging in activities for the purpose of direct participation in hostilities abroad or from providing private security services where there is reason to believe that the recipients will use the services in connection with the commission of serious human rights violations.


The ECPS must review the declarations submitted within 14 days (declaration procedure) and initiate a review procedure where there is evidence that the planned activities could be in conflict with the aims of the PSSA. In initiating a review procedure, the ECPS is required to consult the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) and, once they have heard the submissions of the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS), agree to prohibit the declared activity where necessary. As part of the review procedure, the ECPS may obtain additional information from the company concerned, the relevant FDFA units and the federal authorities.

If, following the consultation, the parties conclude that the declared activity is inconsistent with the aims of the PSSA, it must be prohibited. If it is established that the activity is in line with the PSSA, the ECPS informs the company that it may carry out the activity concerned.

Training requirements

Companies contracted by federal authorities to provide services abroad

The PSSA also sets out the legal basis for federal authorities to contract companies to perform security work in complex environments and lays down the minimum requirements they must meet. These provisions include, in particular, rules on internal control systems, initial and ongoing staff training, and the arming of personnel by the companies contracted. The Ordinance on the Use of Private Security Companies (OESS), however, applies to any federal authority that hires a private security firm to undertake security work in Switzerland or abroad, provided that these tasks do not take place in a complex environment.

Additional Information and Documents