Opening a bank account in Luxembourg is like a sport for the super-rich, the entire financial industry, and even normal people from all over the world. They’ve all flocked to Luxembourg for decades, parking cash in banks, investment funds, and other vehicles.
Note: if you hate free markets, tax efficiency, and capitalism, you should probably stop reading here… Luxembourg will ruffle your feathers.
On the other hand, if you’re an entrepreneur, investor, or you’re interested in protecting your nest egg… then this article is for you.
Over the years, Luxembourg has become a private banking powerhouse and an investment fund mecca. And, it’s an incredibly interesting option for banking, investments, and all things financial.
In 1929, Luxembourg created special laws for holding companies. But, the world wouldn’t take advantage of it until decades later…
Enter the ‘60s. Eurobonds were the hottest trade in the world. And some banks were finding it tough to get in on the action thanks to their local regulations. So, German banks flocked here for light regulation, non-existent banking laws, and Luxembourg became a Eurobond fund center almost overnight.
Then, Luxembourg introduced another piece of legislation in 1981… this time formalizing banking secrecy.
And, non-resident companies, funds, and investors from neighboring countries started taking notice. Even Belgian dentists, German butchers, and regular everyday people got in on the action.
People were scheduling group trips, popping over to Luxembourg en masse on buses, getting dropped off at Luxembourg banks, and proceeding to buy Eurobonds and other investments. Why? It was tax-free. And, Luxembourg banks were safe and had developed a reputation for low taxes and wealth creation.
Today, this tiny land-locked microstate with 600,000 people is the second richest in the world and has one of the biggest financial centers on the planet.
Yet, most people can’t find it on a map.
Whether you’re an individual, entrepreneur, investor, a massive corporate, or a financial kingpin, Luxembourg is worth paying attention to. Especially if you’re looking for wealth management, or just want a safe place to bank.
Luxembourg is an offshore financial center on steroids.
Think about it…
Where else in the world can you find private banks like Switzerland, an investment fund industry like Ireland or Cayman, and corporate tax efficiency on par with Bermuda or Netherlands?
One place: Luxembourg.
Literally, Luxembourg is the tax haven that other financial centers use. And, what’s interesting is that normal people (and their businesses) can use it too.
There’s a wide range of reasons why you might want to open a personal or a company bank account in Luxembourg…
So, if you’re struggling to get into other private banking hubs (e.g., Switzerland, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Andorra, or Singapore), Luxembourg could be an option for you.
This is a private banking and investment hub. So, regardless of whether you open a personal or a company bank account in Luxembourg, it’s expected that you’ll invest in something.
Generally speaking, people and companies come here for wealth creation, tax structuring, asset protection, creative financing, estate planning, or corporate tax efficiency.
So, if you’re a freelancer making $100,000 per year, look at banks elsewhere. Likewise, if you’re looking for business banking for a non-resident company and don’t have a significant annual turnover, Luxembourg probably isn’t a great choice.
In the next few sections, we’re going to look at two core groups who are interested in banking in Luxembourg, non-residents and ex-pats.
Luxembourg, or the Grand Duchy, only has a population of 600,000 people. It’s tiny. Yet, there are 135 banks in the country.
In 2019, Luxembourg’s private banks had about $427 billion under management. And a majority of those assets were from…non-resident private clients and corporates.
When compared to other countries around the world, it’s clear that Luxembourg banks really like non-residents and foreign companies.
In fact, 42% of all assets under management at private banks in Luxembourg are from non-EU countries.
The point is, non-EU residents and international companies are welcome in Luxembourg. If, of course, they have enough money to get in (and have the right information and contacts to open accounts).
It depends on which bank you approach, the banker you’re dealing with, how much you plan on depositing, and what you plan on doing after the account is open.
In other words, whether or not you can open a personal or a company bank account in Luxembourg online depends on the bank’s internal policy, what type of account you’re opening, and how attractive (or profitable) you are to the bank.
If you’re depositing a few million, GlobalBanks has bankers that will fly to you, sign the papers, and welcome you as a client… literally. And depending on the bank and your risk profile, sometimes an in-person meeting can be waived entirely or done via video call. (If you’re a GlobalBanks Insider and want help, just fill out a request form from your Insider Dashboard and we’ll lay out all the options for you.)
If you’re depositing under $1 million, opening a bank account in Luxembourg online is still possible. But again, it’s going to boil down to the bank and banker you choose and your risk profile. We discuss how to do this, along with specific banking options and account opening solutions in our Premium Banking Reports located in the GlobalBanks Insider Library.
Generally, if you’re depositing enough money and plan on investing, opening a bank account in Luxembourg online is possible.
The best banking options for expats in Luxembourg will ultimately depend on what’s important to you and what type of account you’re opening.
Are you looking for private banking and asset management? Or do you just want a retail account to receive your salary? Big difference.
On the retail side, the best bank for expats in Luxembourg revolves around ease of opening, fees, service, and maintenance requirements.
For some expats, opening a bank account online (without visiting Luxembourg) takes precedence over everything. In this case, the bank that allows online account opening wins. Unfortunately, for retail banking, most banks will require non-residents to physically come into a branch. But, as always, there are exceptions.
Other times, it’s about speed and how “easy” the account opening process is. So, expats here are mainly concerned with how tough the paperwork requirements are and how long the process takes from start to finish. Does the bank require you to have a formal employment contract, a specific type of work contract, make a certain amount of money, or particular residency status? If your employer is slow with paperwork, you’re a freelancer, or you just don’t have the right documents, then account opening might be painfully slow. And, banks with less stringent requirements might be a fit for you.
Some banks in Luxembourg might require an initial deposit from an existing bank account in a certain country. If you don’t have an account in a pre-approved country, your account in Luxembourg won’t be activated. So, if you can’t meet the pre-existing bank account requirements, look elsewhere or consider private banking.
As with everywhere in Europe, EU citizens are going to have an easier time opening retail bank accounts in Luxembourg than non-EU citizens.
There are over 130 banks in Luxembourg, but here are a few popular retail options amongst expats employees to start:
Yes, opening a company bank account in Luxembourg is possible. But, is it realistic? Not for everyone.
While Luxembourg has catered to foreign non-resident companies for decades, the focus is on asset management and private banking, not transactional business banking.
So, if you are looking for a bank that will be able to support your business with day to day transactional banking, you’ll find better options elsewhere.
In addition, some banks in Luxembourg have specific client preferences, so bank (and banker) selection is critical. For instance, some banks will only consider EU companies and holding structures, or require local (or regional) substance or ties. Meanwhile, other banks are more open-minded, opening a company bank account in Luxembourg for non-EU companies, offshore companies, and sometimes even trading companies.
Some banks will have strict annual turnover and deposit requirements, while others are looser or have none. For instance, if your company has a high annual turnover, the bank will want to see a higher deposit amount.
Typically a high number of outgoing transactions are discouraged, either through specific restrictions (e.g. “only 5 outgoing transfers per month”) or high fees.
Opening a bank account in Luxembourg isn’t always easy. There are stumbling blocks, cultural considerations, and barriers you’re going to need to overcome… but with a bit of help (and the right information) these are completely avoidable.
To get started, you need to understand each bank’s requirements, preferences, and sensitivities before approaching them. Trying to open an account with $500,000 when the bank actually requires $5 million will end up being a waste of time.
Some people complain that bankers in Luxembourg can be cold, snooty, and make account opening difficult. The more likely scenario? They just approached the wrong bank, had no direct contacts, an undesirable risk profile, or simply presented themselves as unprofitable (or problematic).
If you need help sorting out your banking options, are struggling with account opening, or just aren’t sure where to turn, we can help.
When you join GlobalBanks, you’ll get instant access to our entire archive of Banking Intelligence Reports. These include proven strategies for opening accounts. We also share contact information for specific banks and bankers. And to make sure you don’t waste time, we will also provide details on each bank’s preferences, sensitivities, and more.
You will also get access to the GlobalBanks Database which includes easy-to-digest bank profiles, analyst insights, account opening contacts, and unique opportunities for the top banks in 50+ countries.
Plus, you’ll get real-time analyst support through chat and email, and get answers to your most pressing banking questions.
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