Opening a Swiss Bank Account Online: A Guide for Non-Residents – Silverbird (2024)

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.

Looking for a cost-effective alternative to traditional banking? Silverbird — an EMI-certified payments provider — gives you a fuss-free alternative to simplify your international business payments. Sign up for your multi-currency account now.

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.

Want to avoid high fees and hold more than just the Swiss Franc in your account? Silverbird lets you hold multiple currencies in just one account, with transparent pricing. Here are 5 reasons why export businesses should use Silverbird for easier banking.

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.

Documentation

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.

Eligibility

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.

Opening a Swiss Bank Account Online: A Guide for Non-Residents – Silverbird (2024)

FAQs

Opening a Swiss Bank Account Online: A Guide for Non-Residents – Silverbird? ›

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.

How long does it take to open Silverbird account? ›

Applying for an account takes 10 minutes or less. After you send your application, it will take us up to 5 business days to conduct our due diligence and fully activate your account. Sometimes the due diligence process takes slightly longer because we might need additional documents from you.

Do Swiss banks report to the IRS? ›

As of 2022, information about your Swiss bank account must be handed over to the IRS in the United States. The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes and assessing the wealth of Americans, even wealth held in Swiss bank accounts must be accounted for.

Can an American open a Swiss bank account online? ›

Given the advanced banking system Switzerland has, it is possible for the procedure of opening a bank account as a non-resident to be started online.

Can I open a Swiss bank account from the USA? ›

To open a Swiss bank account, the general requirements for non-residents include the following: Must be at least 18 years old. Must reside in a country that is eligible for Swiss banking (the U.S. is eligible) No evidence of a criminal background or illegal activities (e.g., money laundering)

What happened to Silverbird bank? ›

On 13 March 2024, Silverbird Global Limited (SGL) entered special administration under the Payment and Electronic Money Institution Insolvency Regulations 2021.

How do I open a silver bird account? ›

To open a Silverbird account, you'll need to send us valid identity documents for all ultimate beneficial owners, directors, or legal representatives of your company including one of the following: ID. Passport.

What is a silver bird account? ›

Silverbird is not a bank. Silverbird is a platform that enables international merchants to open e-wallets, make cross-border payments and currency conversions.

How much money do you need to open a Swiss bank account? ›

The minimum balance for Swiss bank accounts depends on the account type and can vary from free of charge up to millions of dollars. Generally, Swiss banks may require you to deposit at least 10,000 CHF ( $9,000 or EUR 6,800) within a month of opening your account.

Can the IRS see my foreign bank account? ›

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) requires foreign banks to report account numbers, balances, names, addresses, and identification numbers of account holders to the IRS.

Why do people put money in Swiss accounts? ›

The major reason customers opt for accounts in Swiss banks is because of their rigid non-disclosure policy. The laws in this county don't allow banks to disclose any information about the customer. More so, whether the information exists or not doesn't matter.

Can I open a bank account in Switzerland without living there? ›

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.

What are the disadvantages of Swiss banks? ›

Over the past decade a surge in litigation between Swiss banks and their clients has uncovered issues such as retrocessions, hidden fees, wrong advice, margin calls, mismanagement, and criminal fraud. At the heart of these disputes is the banking documentation that clients sign when opening their accounts.

How much money do I need to open a Swiss bank account? ›

The minimum balance for Swiss bank accounts depends on the account type and can vary from free of charge up to millions of dollars. Generally, Swiss banks may require you to deposit at least 10,000 CHF ( $9,000 or EUR 6,800) within a month of opening your account. However, as previously mentioned, that may vary.

Do Swiss banks have online banking? ›

In recent years, online banking has become very popular and offers are increasing. Between the online bank accounts from traditional banks and the Swiss virtual banks (neobanks), you are spoilt for choice.

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