How to open a Swiss bank account for business
Your guide to opening a Swiss business bank account
Swiss banks operate a strict level of scrutiny — especially for non-residents.
In this guide, we show you how to open a Swiss bank account online as a non-resident business, including the types of accounts available, and some costs involved in the process.
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Why Are Swiss Banks Famous?
Stability, reliability, and security — the three key reasons why businesspeople might want to open a bank account in Switzerland. Swiss banks are famed for their low levels of financial risk and high levels of privacy and stability. It’s pretty much the golden standard.
Being one of the most popular financial destinations worldwide, Switzerland has an extensive network of banks. From small regional ones to large banks, there’s a bank for every type of entrepreneur.
Reasons to Open a Swiss Bank Account for Business
1. Everyday use
If you’re planning to move to Switzerland to manage your business, it’s a no-brainer to set up a Swiss bank account. Without one, you’ll find it very difficult to pay for housing, bills, and everyday purchases, much less payments to business partners or suppliers.
2. Investments & wealth management
There’s little need to worry about financial security when you have a Swiss bank account. Investments are kept safe and sound from devaluation and sudden economic downfalls in your Swiss bank account.
3. Spending Swiss francs
There are two sides to the coin when storing Swiss Francs in your Swiss bank account. You’ll enjoy a low-interest rate, but you will need to pay the Swiss ‘withholding tax'. So, you might consider having foreign currency in your Swiss bank account instead of Swiss Francs.
Advantages of a Swiss Bank Account for Companies
1. Low financial risk
According to Swiss law, all banks must have high capital requirements and strong depositor protection. So, the risk of your deposits in your Swiss bank account being compromised is relatively low.
2. High privacy and stability
Be assured that your personal and account information will not be disclosed without your permission. Not even banks can reveal information on any account or tell a third party about the existence of the account. One exception is when a government agency claims that you are involved in a criminal act or serious financial issues.
3. Anti-money-laundering regulations
Swiss banks take their KYC (Know Your Customer) processes very strictly as part of their anti-money-laundering regulations. Before you can open your account, you must provide proof of where your account funds originate from.
How Privacy Works for Banking in Switzerland
Swiss banks see privacy as an important aspect of banking. However, you will not be able to open accounts in Switzerland if you have untaxed money or insufficient documentation of your income source.
Previously, tax evasion and money laundering were prevalent. Many account holders took advantage of Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws to avoid paying taxes and perform other illegal activities. Swiss banks were a target for criminals, because of their regime of keeping anonymity and not divulging information about their clients.
With the implementation of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), tax evasion is now illegal in Switzerland, and you must be able to prove your tax residency through a TIN Number (Tax Identification Number) or another identification means.
Other implementations include the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI): the exchange of information between countries without having to request it, and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA): to target non-compliance by U.S. taxpayers using foreign accounts to prevent tax crimes.
How to Open a Swiss Bank Account for Non-Residents or Foreigners
Foreign companies can open a Swiss bank account both in-person or remotely online if you’re unable to physically visit a branch. As a general guide, accounts usually take between a week to a month to become active.
The first step is to choose your bank. It’s to your advantage to choose one of the central banks in larger cities such as Zurich and Geneva. Most businesspeople find that larger banks are able to assist non-resident applications better.
Then, you should contact your chosen bank, ask for an application form, follow their required procedures, and submit the necessary documents (we'll touch on this later). Next, you must verify your identity — a crucial step when opening a Swiss bank account.
The catch — non-resident accounts usually come with higher fees compared to standard accounts, and most don’t offer multi-currency functionality. Some banks even charge higher minimum deposit conditions when you do your application fully remotely.
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Requirements for opening a Swiss bank account
Setting up a business account is slightly more difficult than a personal account. Stricter banks may require you to attend a meeting at a branch or have a video conference before you can open your account as a non-resident or foreigner. Here’s what you need.
You’ll need a valid passport, proof of your source of income, and a physical address. Some banks might not allow you to open an account if your income source is deemed ‘questionable' by their arbitrary standards, especially if you often transact with countries deemed ‘remote' by European standards — whether they’re in Eastern Europe or South East Asia. It could be challenging to convince them that your transactions are legitimate. If you get onboarded with Silverbird, you won’t face this bottleneck: we only deal with import-export businesses, and our KYC technology proves the cross-border movement of physical goods and the legitimacy of your business.
While different banks have their own exact requirements, most banks follow an age limit of 18 to 20 years old, depending on your account type. Switzerland allows most countries to open a bank account, but certain nations are not included on the eligible list. If you reside in an ineligible nation, you will not be able to open a Swiss bank account.
Swiss banks' minimum balance
The minimum balance depends on the type of account and bank you open with. For example, most major Swiss banks require a minimum initial deposit of one million U.S. dollars for foreigners. However, some banks have no minimum balance.
Choose an import-export business account primed for global trade
Swiss banks are an exceptional choice to open a business account, with Switzerland being one of the most secure places to store your funds. However, this security comes with its disadvantages for international merchants.
Traditional banks don’t understand the complexities surrounding international trade. They block legitimate transactions to foreign countries for unexplained reasons. Your business can grind to a halt. You can lose the trust of your suppliers and clients.
At Silverbird, we get you onboarded fast. We’re fully online, with a support team of dedicated experts in international trade to help you run your business smoothly. Our brilliant KYC technology proves your business substance in the onboarding stage. That means no unexpected delays or frozen accounts — because we’re the payment experts of international trade. Start onboarding today.
Swiss Bank Account — FAQ
Are Swiss bank accounts safe?
Swiss bank accounts are some of the safest and most secure in the world. However, due to the prevalence of money laundering and tax evasion, Swiss bank accounts are no longer fully anonymous and confidential due to the implementation of CRS, AEOI, and FATCA regulations. Nonetheless, setting up an account for safety, security and bank secrecy is still a valid reason to choose Switzerland.
Are Swiss bank accounts taxed?
Yes. Accounts held in Swiss francs will enjoy a low-interest rate, but account holders will also have to pay the Swiss withholding tax. Avoid the withholding tax by choosing a multi-currency account with Silverbird.
Why is a Swiss bank account so special?
Swiss bank accounts are famed for their stringent privacy laws and political and economic stability. Keeping your funds in a Swiss bank account is considered a safe place to avoid any loss of funds during financial crises.
Can I open a Swiss bank account without residency?
Yes, non-residents and foreigners can open a Swiss bank account either in person or online. Additional charges may apply if you want to open an account remotely. You’re also required to provide the required documentation to prove your identity and income source.
Is it legal to have a Swiss bank account?
It’s legal to hold a Swiss bank account. That said, you must ensure that you comply with Swiss laws and regulations.
Can a foreigner open a bank account in Switzerland?
Yes. The two popular types of bank accounts include a numbered account and a dormant account.