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Old 18.03.2010, 13:01
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Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B permit

I wanted to tell you all about my experience registering as a self employed in Lausanne just recently, to act as a guide for others in a similar situation. Of course this is no replacement for professional advice :-)

For context, I am an Australian who recently moved to Lausanne with my husband. I guess I am the 'trailing spouse' ha ha. I have my own consulting business (sole trader) which was originally set up in Australia but when I moved I wanted to take it with me. I do a lot of work online and on the phone so moving it to Lausanne was relatively easy but actually getting a permit and registering here as self employed initially looked extremely complicated!!! But it turned out to be relatively straight forward.

I checked my B permit and it says "...avec activitie" which apparently allows me to work. I took my B permit and my passport to the Registre du commerce in Moudon (Rue Grenade 38). I had a swiss friend with me who translated and no one in the office speaks english (we kept the office entertained)! They took a copy of my passport (didn't really look at my permit which I thought they would scrutinize - very odd), got my contact details, a brief description of the work I do and the name of my business. Then I had to pay $242. I will receive a document in the post to certify I am self employed shortly.

I also have to register for AVS and I went to the AVS office (with my invaluable Swiss friend to translate) to get some information about this. Once I get my certificate from Registre du commerce I take it, some invoices, a completed questionnaire (which AVS will post to me) back to the AVS office in Lausanne.

Also need to register for VAT. My situation is a bit unusual so not sure whether I have to pay VAT but nevertheless I should still register apparently. I need to see an accountant to confirm if I actually need to pay it.

So there you go. Not too complicated at all!!! Just make sure you take a someone who can translate for you if you can't speak very much french!
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Old 18.03.2010, 14:45
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

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I wanted to tell you all about my experience registering as a self employed in Lausanne just recently, to act as a guide for others in a similar situation. Of course this is no replacement for professional advice :-)

For context, I am an Australian who recently moved to Lausanne with my husband. I guess I am the 'trailing spouse' ha ha. I have my own consulting business (sole trader) which was originally set up in Australia but when I moved I wanted to take it with me. I do a lot of work online and on the phone so moving it to Lausanne was relatively easy but actually getting a permit and registering here as self employed initially looked extremely complicated!!! But it turned out to be relatively straight forward.

I checked my B permit and it says "...avec activitie" which apparently allows me to work. I took my B permit and my passport to the Registre du commerce in Moudon (Rue Grenade 38). I had a swiss friend with me who translated and no one in the office speaks english (we kept the office entertained)! They took a copy of my passport (didn't really look at my permit which I thought they would scrutinize - very odd), got my contact details, a brief description of the work I do and the name of my business. Then I had to pay $242. I will receive a document in the post to certify I am self employed shortly.

I also have to register for AVS and I went to the AVS office (with my invaluable Swiss friend to translate) to get some information about this. Once I get my certificate from Registre du commerce I take it, some invoices, a completed questionnaire (which AVS will post to me) back to the AVS office in Lausanne.

Also need to register for VAT. My situation is a bit unusual so not sure whether I have to pay VAT but nevertheless I should still register apparently. I need to see an accountant to confirm if I actually need to pay it.

So there you go. Not too complicated at all!!! Just make sure you take a someone who can translate for you if you can't speak very much french!

What's that film called.........."lost in translation"



Office de commerce took Chf 242 from you to register your company which has your name in it as part of the company name. It's nothing to do with whether you are self employed or not.

AVS form will determine whether they issue you with a certificate ofd self-employment or not. They are quite tight on this as everybody with 2 clients was setting up as self employed and taking their pension funds out in cast "to set up the company" You need several clients, hold a stock depending on what you do, in general really prove you are self employed and not working for a few people.

VAT depends on your turnover, once you hit over Chf 100k you need to be registered, and before they register your company, you will need to prove your turnover will be at least Chf 100k in less than 12 months.

If this is the case, then setting up as you did was not best course of action, setting up as an SÓrl or an SA would have been better.

Last edited by Charlie R. Soles; 18.03.2010 at 14:54. Reason: typo
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Old 18.03.2010, 16:11
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

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If this is the case, then setting up as you did was not best course of action, setting up as an SÓrl or an SA would have been better.
Why that??
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Old 18.03.2010, 16:26
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

If you have company with big turnover, best to work as a company rather then self employed. As a company you have limited liability to start with and you can deduct far more a lot easier.

Also an SÓrl or SA looks far better than self employed individual person

Numerous other advantages but all depends on what you do and the $$ involved, why don'tr you just go and pay for an hour with an accountant who will tell ypou whats best for your indivdual case.
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Old 18.03.2010, 16:51
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

In the same situation here as Aussiegirl. Any ideas for an accountant in the Lausanne area? (yep, I am aware of the special thread on this, but the amount of answers over there on this question is quite limited...).

Big thank you in advance!
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Old 18.03.2010, 21:40
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

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I checked my B permit and it says "...avec activitie" which apparently allows me to work.
Your permit entitles you to search for employment and take up a position if you are successful, to operate as a self employed person on a B permit you need additional permission! If you have not visited the community office and obtained such permission, then I would advise you to do so before commencing operations, otherwise you may have difficulties later.

Good luck with that,

Jim.
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Old 19.03.2010, 01:56
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

Hi, I set up as an independent (sole trader) in Geneva a couple of months ago. I was dreading going there but, just like Aussiegirl said, it was very straightforward- just one form, the woman made a phone call to some federal office in Bern, gave me a bill for 190chf and a few sheets of information and that was it. I visited a website that she told me about a few days later and could print the company documents directly from there, official copies were optional for a small charge.
One thing I was told and no-one else here has mentioned is that you will receive a ridiculous amount of mail with bills, offers, association memberships etc. NONE OF THIS IS MANDATORY!! and I think the best place for most of it would be the paper recycling bin.
I have, however, now received a reminder from SUVA which I think is a declaration of how much I think I will make in a year so I can pay AVS and other stoppages. Any info on this would be most welcome if anyone out there knows, it's high on my to-do list and looks pretty official.
Just for info I'm a Brit with a C permit but the process should be the same as long as you have a valid permit.
Also, if you want to register a SARL (Ltd company) there is the small matter of putting aside 20,000chf which is some kind of deposit in case you go bankrupt. For an SA I think the figure was 100K! As a sole trader I am the company and we are one as far as the law is concerned- if it owes someone money then so do I, that is something that should be understood if you register as a sole trader.
Good luck if you decide to start something up yourself and don't be scared, everybody has been surprisingly helpful for me.
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Old 19.03.2010, 05:04
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

[QUOTE= VAT depends on your turnover, once you hit over Chf 100k you need to be registered, and before they register your company, you will need to prove your turnover will be at least Chf 100k in less than 12 months.

If this is the case, then setting up as you did was not best course of action, setting up as an SÓrl or an SA would have been better.[/QUOTE]

This was my experience too. I thought it was going to be supa difficult to register as a sole trader, but it turned out to be straight forward.

Regarding VAT, you only need to register if your turnover is above 100KCHF and billed to Swiss clients. You do not have to register for VAT if your turover is rerived from outside of Swizerland.

So say you invoice 30.000 francs to Swiss entities and 200.000 francs to Ozzie companies, you won't have to register.

Depending on your situation, the burden of having to manage VAT might not be worth you registering. And you are right, get the advice from a professional.
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Old 19.03.2010, 09:15
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

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Also, if you want to register a SARL (Ltd company) there is the small matter of putting aside 20,000chf which is some kind of deposit in case you go bankrupt. For an SA I think the figure was 100K!
Not quite right. It's not really a deposit, you have to have this amount to start the company officialy and it's placed in a notaries account when the company is set up. Once it's been through the registre du commerce which takes about 1 week, it is returned to the company bank account, minus notary fee, including cantonal taxes, where the company can do what it wants with it, including spending it immediately on beer & fags if it wishes.

You can also put upto 50% of this money into the company as assets, such a computers, cars, office furniture, but if you go belly up, all the assets belong to the company and are sold off to highest bidder in the bankrupcy or liquidation procedures.

Last edited by Charlie R. Soles; 19.03.2010 at 09:17. Reason: typo
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Old 19.03.2010, 09:18
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

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This was my experience too. I thought it was going to be supa difficult to register as a sole trader, but it turned out to be straight forward.

Regarding VAT, you only need to register if your turnover is above 100KCHF and billed to Swiss clients. You do not have to register for VAT if your turover is rerived from outside of Swizerland.

So say you invoice 30.000 francs to Swiss entities and 200.000 francs to Ozzie companies, you won't have to register.

Depending on your situation, the burden of having to manage VAT might not be worth you registering. And you are right, get the advice from a professional.

All true, but by being registered for VAT you can also claim all VAT back on company expenses, such as an expensive car.
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Old 19.03.2010, 11:46
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

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All true, but by being registered for VAT you can also claim all VAT back on company expenses, such as an expensive car.
Correct, though as a tax advisor I would prefer the claim for a "business-used" car, rather than for an "expensive" car. If you purchase a Porsche or a luxury car an claim the expense and VAT as business related expense, you can count on the tax authority to deny the expense character (and this makes a significant difference whether you are self-employed or have a company with a share capital...).

Many people don't understand VAT rules correctly. Being subject to VAT does not mean you have to support the VAT. It means that you have to invoice with VAT (provided you have to, depends on the kind of service or goods sold and where), but also that you can claim back the VAT you have paid. Basically, you only have to "transfer" the VAT burden to your client. Whether that really impact your pricing is another question, but basically people are used to support the VAT charge as a final purchaser.

"Sole trader" can mean anything. If you are trading in the financial sector, lots of your services are excluded of VAT, therefore not subject to VAT (and no possibility to claim back the VAT), but some are subject to VAT! Therefore a careful attention on these matters is always wise.

Furthermore, the CHF 100'000 threshold is not a all or nothing. You can chose to become subject to VAT even if you are under that threshold. If you have a turnover of CHF 200'000, you are mandatory subject to VAT, even if you only have CHF 10'000 on which you will effectively charge VAT! The thing is that the turnover is determining to become VAT registered and the question whether it is exempted (outside of CH for instance), is for the tax payer to prove it in its VAT return through appropriate bills and accounting.

Finally, when becoming VAT registered, you have to chose between the effective method and the forfait method. This is of a very high importance as this will be the method you will be using for the next 5 years! Depending on how much input VAT your expect to recover, you can make some significant saves there! The most common issue I see, is my clients coming to me after 1 or 2 years of VAT. When I do the calculation and show them how much they could have saved, they faint...
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Old 19.03.2010, 12:06
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

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Not quite right. It's not really a deposit, you have to have this amount to start the company officialy and it's placed in a notaries account when the company is set up. Once it's been through the registre du commerce which takes about 1 week, it is returned to the company bank account, minus notary fee, including cantonal taxes, where the company can do what it wants with it, including spending it immediately on beer & fags if it wishes.

You can also put upto 50% of this money into the company as assets, such a computers, cars, office furniture, but if you go belly up, all the assets belong to the company and are sold off to highest bidder in the bankrupcy or liquidation procedures.
Well, the only fee that is levied from your deposit before it is transfered to the company's account is the fee from the bank! Then you receive the invoices from the notary, the commercial register, etc.

You can use 100% (not 50%) of the CASH for the company's business. You can purchase assets that will be mentioned in the balance sheet, but you can also purchase anything that will go directly in the P&L as expenses. This is the cash of the company, it can do whatever it wants with (as long as it remains legal...).

The 50% rule applies to profit distribution. A company with a share capital shall have "legal reserves", i.e. retained earnings in the balance sheet of at least 50% of the share capital before it can distribute profits. Well, the rule is much more complicated than that, as you don't have to create the reserve all in once, but this is the basic rule. Once the reserve has been created, all the rest goes to the "free reserves", i.e. free distributable profits.

Last edited by Syt; 19.03.2010 at 13:30.
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Old 19.03.2010, 12:42
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

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Hi, I set up as an independent (sole trader) in Geneva a couple of months ago. I was dreading going there but, just like Aussiegirl said, it was very straightforward- just one form, the woman made a phone call to some federal office in Bern, gave me a bill for 190chf and a few sheets of information and that was it. I visited a website that she told me about a few days later and could print the company documents directly from there, official copies were optional for a small charge.
One thing I was told and no-one else here has mentioned is that you will receive a ridiculous amount of mail with bills, offers, association memberships etc. NONE OF THIS IS MANDATORY!! and I think the best place for most of it would be the paper recycling bin.
I have, however, now received a reminder from SUVA which I think is a declaration of how much I think I will make in a year so I can pay AVS and other stoppages. Any info on this would be most welcome if anyone out there knows, it's high on my to-do list and looks pretty official.
Just for info I'm a Brit with a C permit but the process should be the same as long as you have a valid permit.
Also, if you want to register a SARL (Ltd company) there is the small matter of putting aside 20,000chf which is some kind of deposit in case you go bankrupt. For an SA I think the figure was 100K! As a sole trader I am the company and we are one as far as the law is concerned- if it owes someone money then so do I, that is something that should be understood if you register as a sole trader.
Good luck if you decide to start something up yourself and don't be scared, everybody has been surprisingly helpful for me.
Well, on self-employed vs. Ltd or corporation:
- To become self-employed, it is not mandatory to be registered at the Swiss commercial register! For some business, it is also not possible. Being self-employed is a matter of facts, organization, how you appear towards clients and independance. Those criteria will be checked by the AVS authority. Being registered at the Swiss commercial register has a very significant impact on proceedings and bankruptcy. If you are not registered, you are subject to the ordinary legal proceeding procedure, which basically imply a long and difficult process for the claimant. Whereas if you are registered, you fall into the bankruptcy procedure, which means the process will be very much simplified and straight forward for the claimant to seize your goods and obtain payments.

- Creating a company (SÓrl or SA) means creating a separate legal entity, with own assets and capital. This means the end of transparency between shareholder and the corporate entity. Which means that if the corporate entity goes bankrupt, the shareholder will not have to pay anything in addition than the initial paid-in capital. This is clearly a security compared to the self-employed activity for which you will be responsible and liable on all your goods and assets!

- The downside on creating a separate corporate entity, is that it is not transparent at all! This means dual legal and tax obligations (for the individual and for the corporate entity). This means that what is paid in the name of the individual can not be "transferred" to the corporate entity (or with significant restrictions). This non transparency is not flexible at all and for non experienced people, it can lead to significant issues. Being self employed means that what you earn through your business is for you and can go directly in your pocket. Being employed by its own company means having a salary (maybe subject to tax at source if you have a B permit!!!), paying 2nd pillar, accident insurance, different 1st pillar rates for employer (corporate entity) and individual, issuing a salary certificate which have to mention also the amount of expenses paid back to the employee and other benefits, such as company car, etc. This means also that the profits realized by the company are in the pocket of the company and are subject to profit tax. Once distributed, they are subject to withholding tax (wich can be claimed back by the individual). The dividend is then taxable in the hands of the shareholder, as income, together with his salary. Furthermore, the net assets of the company (share capital plus retained earnings) are subject to a capital tax... If you start denying the non transparency by having the corporate entity assuming private expenses of the individual, you will fall into tax fraud procedure! Wrong accounting that leads to a tax evasion is a tax fraud! It's penal, with fine, taxes and interest for late payments! Withholding tax is also due, which can not be claimed back as you did not declare the income!!! Well, I'm "painting the Devil on the wall" as I would say in French, but all this to say that you can't say "create a SÓrl or SA, it's easier".

In my practice, I recommand a SÓrl or SA as soon as:
- you want to remain anonymous
- you trade goods outside Switzerland
- you need bank financing
- you will or intend to hire people
- you intend to integrate a partner
- you will potentialy face high risks of responsibility
- etc.

Whereas if you want to have a small business you run and it is you and you and you don't face special risks, go for self-employment. Also dont' forget: going self-employed is basically free of charge, whereas creating a GmbH implies at least costs of CHF 2'000-3'000....

There is a lot of potential planning by creating a separate legal entity (2nd pillar, tax planning...) and this is a powerful tool. Nevertheless, it has some administrative and legal constraints and implies costs you don't face being self-employed. This needs an analysis of each individual case and no general answer can be given at anytime, but this might give some guidelines.

Last edited by Syt; 19.03.2010 at 13:26.
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Old 08.04.2013, 14:44
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

[QUOTE=Aussiegirl;745010]I wanted to tell you all about my experience registering as a self employed in Lausanne

I also have to register for AVS and I went to the AVS office (with my invaluable Swiss friend to translate) to get some information about this. Once I get my certificate from Registre du commerce I take it, some invoices, a completed questionnaire (which AVS will post to me) back to the AVS office in Lausanne.[QUOTE]


Do you know how AVS contributions are calculated for the owners / shareholders of GmbH?

Do they need to be "employed" by the company they own and pay themselves a minimum salary in order NOT to have their AVS contributions calculated on the basis of their wealth? What is the minimum salary (per couple) as one spouse can be employed and they can be making sufficient AVS contributions in order to meet the quota for a married couple?

Are there any exceptions for entrepreneurs who are setting up a new business so that they are not considered persons without employment that therefore need to pay on basis of wealth? Usually businesses take a few years to make a profit. Do Swiss have any benefits, tax breaks or incentives for new businesses being set up?

Does AVS contribution amount differ from Canton to Canton?

Does one need to pay where one lives or where GmbH is registered?

Thanks
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Old 08.04.2013, 14:49
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

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AVS form will determine whether they issue you with a certificate ofd self-employment or not. They are quite tight on this as everybody with 2 clients was setting up as self employed and taking their pension funds out in cast "to set up the company" You need several clients, hold a stock depending on what you do, in general really prove you are self employed and not working for a few people.

setting up as an SÓrl or an SA would have been better.
Do you know if one is a shareholder in a GmbH (CHF20K min capital needed to set up), one needs to make himself employed by the GmbH in order to make AVS contributions so that his contributions are not calculated as person without an economic activity? Is there some kind of obligatory AVS exclusion for enterprenuers starting thier own business? Is there a minimum salary one needs to pay oneself to make AVS contribtions as person with economic activity?
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Old 08.04.2013, 14:56
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

Your questions have already been answered in the other thread.
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Old 08.04.2013, 16:24
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

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Your questions have already been answered in the other thread.
Thank you. Not exactly. There is an AVS calculated on the basis of personal wealth for persons without an economic activity which can be very expensive (not CHF500 per yr). Highest AVS is CHF20K per yr according to the new rules from 2013.

If an enterpreneur is starting a new business and the business is not making much money at the beginning will the AVS be calculated on the basis of enterprenuer's total wealth until the business can make enough money so that the enterprenuer can pay himslef a sufficient salary for AVS to be calculated on the basis of income?
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Old 19.09.2016, 18:26
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

AVH/AVS is usually calculated "pro rata" quarterly determined by what you state you think you are going to make in advance (when registering) as sole trader / sole proprietor.
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Old 19.09.2016, 20:26
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Re: Experience registering as self employed in Lausanne as an Australian with a B per

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AVH/AVS is usually calculated "pro rata" quarterly determined by what you state you think you are going to make in advance (when registering) as sole trader / sole proprietor.
OP probably will have found out seeing that the last post was 3 years ago?
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