In this article, we’re looking at the best banks to open a Swiss bank account with for expats, foreigners, and foreign entities.
The following information is based on our team’s experience helping members from around the world successfully open accounts with the best banks in Switzerland over the last decade. This includes opening accounts for individuals, companies, and wealth management entities both in person and from abroad.
If you would like to access our free Switzerland banking series, click the link above and unlock our team’s expert take on Swiss banks, Switzerland banking requirements, personal and business banking in Switzerland, and much more.
You can also use the table of contents and jump to the section that covers your area of interest in Switzerland.
Table of Contents
- What Are the Best Banks in Switzerland?
- Benefits of Opening an Account With Switzerland Banks?
- Frequently Asked Switzerland Banking Question?
- Alternative Countries to Banking in Switzerland
- Do You Want Help Opening Switzerland Bank Accounts?
What Are the Best Banks in Switzerland?
The best banks in Switzerland include domestic Swiss banks and several foreign banks licensed to operate in Switzerland. These include UBS, Julius Baer, Vontobel, Lombard Odier, and more.
Importantly, these banks and other top-rated financial institutions in Switzerland can be difficult to access. This is especially true if you are a foreign non-resident or looking to open a foreign wealth management structure.
With this in mind, most foreign applicants will choose to apply with one of the Swiss banks that specifically cater to foreigners. Not surprisingly, these foreigner-friendly banks tend to be located in major private banking hubs in Switzerland, like Zurich, Geneva, and Lugano.
Importantly, if you are actively looking to open a bank account in Switzerland, you should also take time to assess the Swiss economy, Switzerland’s banking regulations, and the Swiss financial industry more broadly.
Likewise, before applying for accounts with a specific Swiss bank, you should confirm that they offer the Switzerland banking services you require, cater to clients with your profile, and will accept an initial deposit you can afford.
If you would like to explore a more detailed list of banks in Switzerland, you can click here to access our free guide. Alternatively, we’ve also compiled details on the largest banks in Switzerland, though many of these banks will not be accessible to foreign non-residents.
By taking the time to assess these Switzerland-specific factors, you will be able to confirm whether Switzerland is a suitable banking jurisdiction for your needs. Likewise, by assessing each Swiss bank directly, you will end up finding the best bank in Switzerland for your unique requirements.
With this in mind, we’re going to help you start exploring Swiss banking options by looking at which banks in Switzerland are best for expats.
What Are the Best Banks for Expats in Switzerland?
Before discussing the best Swiss banks for expats, it’s important to point out that we are defining “expats” as foreign individuals who have the legal right to work or reside in Switzerland, either on a visa or with residency status.
Not surprisingly, expats in Switzerland typically have more options to consider than foreign non-residents who do not reside in the country. That said, even with the legal right to be in the country, Swiss financial institutions can still be difficult to access.
With this in mind, we typically suggest that expats in Switzerland look for financial institutions with the following attributes.
Characteristics of the Best Banks in Switzerland for Expats
- Accepting foreigners with Swiss residency and work permits
- Flexible requirements for proof of address in Switzerland
- Minimum deposit requirements for foreigners with clear ties to Switzerland
- Low-cost domestic transfers between Swiss banks
- Accepts deposits via transfer services from outside of Switzerland
- Reasonable hours for in-person services
- Customer service support in your desired language
Again, these are the characteristics that individuals living and working in Switzerland should consider when deciding which accounts to apply for.
If you fit into this category and would like to take a closer look at opening a personal bank account in Switzerland, you can click this link to access our free guide now. Alternatively, if your objectives are more aligned with opening an offshore bank account in Switzerland you may find our dedicated offshore banking guide more helpful.
What Are the Best Banks for Foreign Non-Residents in Switzerland?
Foreign non-residents of Switzerland, meaning individuals without the legal right to reside or work in Switzerland, need to consider Swiss banks that specifically cater to international clients.
Fortunately, as one of the foremost private banking jurisdictions, Switzerland has a wide range of banks that fall into this category. However, it’s important to note that these Swiss financial institutions are very selective when it comes to client onboarding. And, in most cases, they have strict minimum deposits that range from USD 500,000 to USD 1,000,000. That said, there are lower deposit level options that exist, ranging from USD 10,000 to USD 100,000.
When it comes to foreigners opening accounts in Switzerland, we typically suggest Swiss financial institutions with the following attributes.
Characteristics of the Best Banks in Switzerland for Foreign Non-Residents
- Accepting foreign non-residents of Switzerland
- Accepts your citizenship and residency
- Requires supporting documents you can provide
- Does not require Swiss documents you don’t have
- Does not require ties to Switzerland that you don’t have
- Requires a deposit amount you can afford
- Allows transfers to and from Switzerland and desired countries
- Offers international debit and credit cards
- Offers the private banking services you desire
- Charges reasonable fees for private banking services
- Charges reasonable account maintenance fees
- Allows for both incoming and outgoing transfers
If you are a foreign non-resident of Switzerland and you would like to explore your options further, you can use the personal guide linked above.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to make a larger deposit, you can explore how to open a private bank account in Switzerland using our free guide here.
What Are the Best Banks for Foreign Entities in Switzerland?
Foreign entities refer to legal entities registered as holding companies, operating businesses, and foreign trusts and foundations outside of Switzerland.
Importantly, while these entities often struggle to bank elsewhere, Switzerland is a stable jurisdiction that these entities can usually access.
Of course, in order to open accounts with a Swiss bank, these entities need to pass compliance, meet Switzerland account opening requirements, and make a qualifying deposit.
Not surprisingly, the deposits to open in Switzerland for holding companies, certain operating entities, and foreign trusts and foundations will be higher than in other jurisdictions. However, if you are looking to access wealth management services or private banking for these entities, the deposits are often reasonable for the quality and service provided.
In terms of operating entities, Switzerland can make sense in certain instances as banks here can be an option for businesses that are struggling to open elsewhere. However, operating entities still need to make high deposits and will likely face a number of additional fees.
With this in mind, we typically suggest Switzerland financial institutions with the following attributes for foreign entities
Characteristics of the Best Banks in Switzerland for Foreign Entities
- Accepting of entities from outside of Switzerland
- Accepts your entity’s specific country of registration
- Accepts the citizenship and residency of the shareholder and directors
- Supports the specific industry or purpose of the entity
- Does not require Swiss documents your entity doesn’t have
- Does not require ties to Switzerland that your entity doesn’t have
- Requires a deposit amount your entity can provide
- Allows transfers to and from Switzerland and desired countries
- Charges reasonable international transaction fees
- Charges reasonable account maintenance fees
- English-speaking customer support
If you’re interested in opening a Switzerland bank account for legal entities, you can click this link to access our free guide now.
Benefits of Opening an Account With Switzerland Banks?
When compared to other banking jurisdictions, the potential benefits of opening accounts with a Swiss bank include a high degree of sophistication, familiarity with foreign and non-resident clients, economic and political stability, strong jurisdiction reputation, and much more.
Here is a closer look at some of the benefits you can receive when opening accounts in Switzerland.
Benefits of Opening a Bank Account in Switzerland
- Sophisticated private banking and wealth management services
- Bankers that are familiar with the needs of foreign clients
- Wide range of international investment products
- Non-banking support from credible service providers
- Accepting individuals with most citizenships and residencies
- Competent multi-lingual customer support
- And much more
Lastly, Switzerland financial institutions also offer access to a wide range of foreign account services, ranging from investment products to multi-currency accounts. Of course, this is in addition to offering direct access to the official currency of Switzerland, the Swiss Franc (CHF).
Foreign Bank Account Services in Switzerland
- Multi-currency accounts
- Online account management
- Customized investment accounts
- International debit and credit cards
- International transaction support
- Domestic transfers
- Fixed deposit accounts
- And more
Of course, many of these benefits can be obtained when opening accounts outside of Switzerland as well. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the alternative countries to Switzerland that you may want to consider.
Alternative Countries to Banking in Switzerland
There are a number of alternative countries you may want to consider instead of banking in Switzerland. However, each Switzerland alternative has its own unique considerations. Likewise, similar to Switzerland, they tend to cater to specific client profiles.
In the case of Switzerland, applicants typically include high-net-worth individuals seeking investment services. For this reason, Switzerland is often suitable for anyone making larger deposits and looking for economically and politically stable banking jurisdictions.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are costs to banking in Switzerland. Likewise, depending on where you are located, you may have difficulties sending money to Switzerland from your existing accounts.
With this in mind, it’s important to compare all of the alternative jurisdictions you are considering directly to banking options in Switzerland. That way, you’ll be sure to find the best banks for your unique requirements.
Here are a few alternative banking hubs to Switzerland that you might want to consider. These first three alternatives were selected because they are home to institutions with similar onboarding processes and deposit requirements as Switzerland. However, the last two typically cater to a different clientele than banks in Switzerland. With this in mind, they may be worth considering if you decide that Switzerland is not the right fit for your needs.
Alternatives to Banking in Switzerland
- The Isle of Man
Needless to say, there are risks to banking in any of these countries just as there are risks to banking in Switzerland as a foreign non-resident.
So, before deciding where to apply, don’t forget to do your research, understand the risks of each country and bank, and choose the option that best meets your profile and needs.
Frequently Asked Switzerland Banking Questions
Below are a few of the most common questions we receive from people searching for the best Swiss financial institutions. If you have further questions you would like answered, don’t hesitate to contact us directly.
Is Switzerland Good for Banking?
Yes, Switzerland is good for banking. However, like banking anywhere, you need to choose a reputable bank with sound financials, strong management, and that offers the specific services you require. That said, many people can benefit from banking in Singapore, especially those seeking private banking and wealth management services.
What Is the Number One Bank in Switzerland?
The number one bank in Switzerland in terms of total assets is UBS with CHF 1.7 trillion. That said, UBS may not be a suitable option for every client type. This is because all banks in Switzerland cater to specific clients, offer different banking services, and have different account opening requirements.
Do You Want Help Opening Switzerland Bank Accounts?
If so, you can access GlobalBanks IQ and start the process of applying in Switzerland in a few clicks.
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