Swiss bank accounts for non-residents are the stuff of legends. Commonly, they are associated with Bond movies or tall tales of kingpin dealings. The reality is much less exciting but may offer perks you didn’t know you needed.
Swiss banks are famous for keeping your information private, making it a known tax haven. For hundreds of years, Switzerland has kept bank account information secret to maintain neutrality and sovereignty. The Banking Law of 1934, created the avenue for secrecy and privacy in modern banking. It made it criminal to release personal account information except in extreme circumstances. They won’t hold your secrets if you’re suspected of severe crimes.
Contrary to popular belief, Swiss banks will release your information if they have to. Additionally, if the bank has locations in the US, then the American laws apply. You lose the privacy protection of having a Swiss account. Also, the tax treaty signed in 2012 allows the release of information with a valid request.
Other Benefits of a Swiss Bank Account
In spite of this, a Swiss bank account can still evolve your financial standing. First, the Swiss economy is one of the most stable in the world. Second, most Swiss bank accounts let you hold funds in multiple currencies, creating automatic diversity. Most common are US dollars, Euro, Swiss Franc, and British pound. Third, Swiss banks are known for wealth management. They will invest your funds, earning you more than the typical interest rates at American banks. Finally, you may be protected from lawsuits if you fall under the Swiss banking laws. Again, hat all depends on the bank’s location.
Opening a bank account in Switzerland can be daunting, so it’s best to prepare. Opening an account can take weeks to a month. While the only qualification for a non-resident is that you are at least 18 years of age, several documents are required. You will need your passport, proof of income, source of deposits, utility bills to verify your home address, and other materials.
To avoid money laundering and other crimes, the Swiss banks are meticulous in reviewing applications. You may need authentication verification of your documents. There are agencies and brokers to assist with the process if you can’t open an account in person. You can also submit your completed package by mail or fax. If you’re going to move to Switzerland, make sure you start the process early. You need a local bank account to rent an apartment, and you need a local address to open an account.
How Much Money Do You Need?
As previously mentioned, Swiss banks want to invest your money. A lot of the banks have no fee or deposit required to open an account. However, the minimum deposit once you start may be as high as 5,000 CHF ($5,126). I saw others as high as 100,000 CHF ($102,520) and 250,000 CHF ($256,300).
If you’re opening a wealth management account, your minimum deposit could 750,000 – 1,000,000 CHF ($768,900 – $1,025,200). Plus, if you want the numbered account, that doesn’t have your name associated with it, the fee is at least 2,000 CHF ($2050) annually. There are also fees for transfers, checks, cards, and account maintenance.
If your needs outweigh the fees, then a Swiss bank account might work. I encourage you to do your research and choose the best option for you.