In this article, we’re sharing how to open a private bank account in Switzerland for foreign non-resident individuals and entities.
This will include the specific client profiles that can benefit from private banking in Switzerland, the benefits they can expect, and which alternative jurisdictions you may want to consider instead of Switzerland when it comes to private banking.
If you would like access to 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 matches your private banking needs in Switzerland.
Table of Contents
- Open a Private Bank Account in Switzerland
- Who Can Open Private Bank Accounts in Switzerland?
- How to Open a Private Non-Resident Bank Account in Switzerland?
- Switzerland Banking System: Private Banking
- Frequently Asked Switzerland Banking Questions
- Do You Want Help Opening Switzerland Bank Accounts?
Open a Private Bank Account in Switzerland
Switzerland private bank accounts are among the most sought-after financial accounts available. In addition to providing access to sophisticated banking and financial services, private banking in Switzerland also offers enhanced security, stability, and privacy.
Not surprisingly, Switzerland is first and foremost a sophisticated private banking jurisdiction. As a result, Swiss banks cater to high-net-worth individuals seeking wealth management and related services.
With this in mind, the best banks in Switzerland tend to serve high-net-worth individuals and related entities looking to make large deposits and access wealth management and investment services.
That said, beyond private banking, it is possible to open other bank accounts in Switzerland as well. This includes opening a non-resident personal bank account in Switzerland or a business bank account in Switzerland for certain non-resident entities.
However, whether you are looking to open an account for yourself or an entity, everyday transactional banking (or low deposit levels) will usually be better served in other jurisdictions. With this in mind, we’re going to be focusing on opening private bank accounts in Switzerland, starting with who can actually open here.
Who Can Open Private Bank Accounts in Switzerland?
A private bank account in Switzerland can be opened by citizens and residents of most countries. In fact, it’s even possible for US citizens and residents to bank in Switzerland as well, despite what most service providers would have you believe.
Of course, each applicant will be assessed based on their citizenship, residency, source of income, associated risks, deposit level, and other factors. Depending on the bank’s assessment of these factors, an individual may or may not be approved for an account at a Swiss bank.
That said, foreign non-residents, foreign residents, and wealth management entities are eligible to open a private bank account in Switzerland.
For clarity, wealth management entities include trusts, foundations, and holding companies. When it comes to banking in Switzerland, these wealth management entities can be structured in Switzerland or in foreign and offshore jurisdictions. In most cases, they are looking to access a Switzerland offshore bank account with certain private banking facilities.
In short, there are several key criteria that will determine whether an individual or entity can open a private bank account in Switzerland, which includes whether the applicant can pass the basic Swiss AML and KYC process and whether they can make a qualifying deposit with a Swiss bank.
How Much Do Switzerland Banks Want You to Deposit?
Foreign non-residents and wealth management entities are eligible to open Swiss bank accounts. In most cases, banks in Switzerland will ask them to commit to a relationship balance between USD 500,000 and USD 1,000,000.
That said, the total relationship balance does not need to be deposited initially. Instead, most Swiss banks will allow account holders to gradually increase their total relationship balance over time.
On the other hand, there are Swiss banks that will require the total relationship balance to be deposited prior to the account being activated. Additionally, while most Swiss banks will open accounts with a total balance of USD 1,000,000, there are a number of Swiss banks that will require higher deposits. In fact, in certain instances, clients will be asked to make deposits exceeding USD 3,000,000.
Depending on your reason for wanting to bank in Switzerland, you may find these deposit requirements to be high. This is especially true when compared to alternative jurisdictions offering similar levels of quality and service, such as Singapore.
Who Should Open Private Bank Accounts in Switzerland?
Due to the account opening requirements of Switzerland banks, and the availability of more accessible jurisdictions with similar deposit levels, most individuals should consider all of the available private banking options before applying to Switzerland banks.
This is true whether you’re comparing the largest banks in Switzerland to those in similar jurisdictions like Singapore, Liechtenstein, or Jersey or to offshore banking jurisdictions like the Cayman Islands or the Bahamas.
However, private banking in Switzerland does offer value to certain client profiles. These profiles include individuals looking to access wealth management, tax planning, and international investment products. But also, individuals wanting to invest large portions of their deposits. With this in mind, here is a look at the common benefits that people can expect when opening a private bank account in Switzerland.
Benefits of Opening Private Bank Accounts in Switzerland?
- A strong and stable banking jurisdiction
- Reputable private banking institutions
- Experienced and informed private bankers
- Products tailored to the needs of international clients
- Sophisticated wealth management services
- Credible structuring and tax advisory services
- Wide range of international investments
- Access to most global currencies
- Accepting of most citizenships and residencies
- And much more
In short, the benefits of banking in Switzerland for foreign non-residents are wide-ranging and will depend on how the account is used, their unique objectives, and more.
Needless to say, if you desire any of the services mentioned above, private banking in Switzerland may be worth exploring.
How to Open a Private Non-Resident Bank Account in Switzerland?
To open a private non-resident bank account in Switzerland, individuals need to complete the following steps:
- Select a Swiss bank that accepts your client profile and matches your desired private banking services
- Complete the Swiss bank’s account opening application, including the standard KYC and AML questionnaires
- Obtain necessary document verifications requested by the Swiss bank
- If you are opening a private bank account in Switzerland remotely, you may need to mail original copies of all documents to Switzerland
- After the account opening process is complete, the Swiss bank will give you between one and two weeks to make the account opening deposit
It’s important to note that each Swiss bank has slightly different deposit requirements. With this in mind, it’s important to explore all of the private banking options in Switzerland to find banks that you qualify for before applying.
Additionally, while the vast majority of private bank accounts in Switzerland are opened remotely, many Swiss private banks still place an emphasis on in-person interactions. That said, in many instances, Swiss private banks have regional representatives or travel to meet with clients in person. As a result, the individual opening the account rarely has to travel to Switzerland to meet in-person requirements.
To help you consider whether Swiss private banking is right for you, let’s take a look at the Swiss banking system, specifically for private banking, and see how it compares to global alternatives.
Switzerland Banking System: Private Banking
Switzerland’s banking system is sophisticated, reputable, and well-established. This isn’t surprising given Switzerland’s standing as a leading banking jurisdiction that supports individuals and entities from around the world.
That said, when compared to other private banking jurisdictions, there are more accessible options available elsewhere. In many cases, these more accessible options require lower deposits than Swiss banks and often often similar value.
With this in mind, instead of accessing banking services in Switzerland, you could consider applying for accounts in other private banking hubs like Singapore, Liechtenstein, the Bahamas, or Monaco, if they better match your needs.
Of course, there are certain reasons why people may want to bank in Switzerland, ranging from holding Swiss francs (Switzerland’s official currency) with Swiss banks to supporting domestic financial obligations in Switzerland. That said, if you need to send money to Switzerland or send transfers out of Switzerland, you should confirm with banks in all relevant jurisdictions the fees prior to sending wires.
To help you explore your other options, here is a look at some of the alternative jurisdictions to Switzerland that you might want to consider.
Alternatives to a Switzerland Private Bank Account
When comparing jurisdictions, you should look at the specific risks of banking in Switzerland against the alternatives that you’re considering. Likewise, the costs of banking in Switzerland, including both opening and maintaining accounts should be considered.
If you would like to explore any of these alternative private banking options, you can get immediate access to banks in each of these countries in the GlobalBanks IQ Database. Use the link below to learn more about GlobalBanks IQ now.
Frequently Asked Switzerland Banking Questions
Below are a few of the most common questions we receive from people considering private bank accounts in Switzerland. If you have further questions you would like answered, don’t hesitate to contact us directly.
Are Swiss Bank Accounts Private?
No, not all Swiss bank accounts are private. However, the majority of the banks in Switzerland do cater to private banking clients. That said, the term private does not mean anonymous. As is the case with most banking jurisdictions, information about your financial accounts held in Switzerland will be shared with your country of tax residency, in line with Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) and Common Reporting Standards (CRS).
What Is the Best Private Bank in Switzerland?
The best private bank in Switzerland depends on the applicant looking to open accounts. This is because not all banks in Switzerland accept the same clients, offer the same services, or provide the same level of quality or value. As a result, one private bank in Switzerland may be better suited to one client than another. This is why bank selection is critical when choosing where to open a private bank account in Switzerland.
What Is “Private Banking” in Switzerland?
In Switzerland, “Private Banking” refers to a level of personalized banking services designed to support the financial services requirements of high-net-worth individuals. These services may include asset management, tax planning, investment opportunities, cross-border lending, and much more. In most cases, in order to qualify for private banking in Switzerland, applicants need to deposit between USD 500,000 and USD 3,000,000.
How to Open a Private Swiss Bank Account?
To open a private Swiss bank account, all applicants will need to submit a completed application, supporting documentation, complete bank onboarding procedures, and make a qualifying financial commitment. Of course, each bank’s account opening process is slightly different. So, it’s important to confirm the specific requirements of the banks you are considering prior to starting the application process.
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.
GlobalBanks IQ is our flagship international bank account opening solution. It gives you instant access to the…
+ Expert insights on which banks to choose and why
+ Step-by-step reports to open bank accounts in the best banking hubs
+ GlobalBanks international bank database and detailed bank profiles
+ Tried and tested banks for high-risk, offshore, and non-resident clients
+ Plus, get YOUR most pressing bank account opening questions answered by our team!
And “yes!” GlobalBanks IQ helps foreigners and non-resident individuals open bank accounts.
In fact, GlobalBanks IQ even helps non-resident, foreign and offshore entities open bank accounts.
To learn more about opening accounts with GlobalBanks IQ, click here now. Or, contact us directly with any questions!