How To Open An Offshore Bank Account In Switzerland
In the bad old days, it was illegal for a banker to reveal a customer’s account details or any information in Switzerland. However, these days, it is a criminal offence if they do. Sweeping reforms, improved deals with other countries, and stinging criminal investigations have made Swiss banks as open and transparent as any other. You cannot hide your money here and expect to keep it a secret from the tax inspectors.
The Cheese With Holes In
A new trend of turning down Americans has come into effect in Switzerland as of 2016. If you are a resident in Europe, Canada or Australia, you will have a far easier time setting up a bank account in Switzerland than if you are a US citizen. Swiss banks have had such a hard time dealing with the IRS and US criminal investigations that they have started to close their doors to people from the America side of North America.
Is Switzerland a Good Tax Haven for Offshore Banking?
In the past, yes. In the present, no. Switzerland’s famous bank account secrecy has come under serious fire and regulations are pushing things towards Switzerland complying with international & European banking laws. At this point, don’t expect the Swiss to protect your money from the IRS an American if the IRS goes looking. Indeed, the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) has changed the status of offshore banking forever for Americans. Swiss Banks are now complying with the FATCA, which is bad for you, if you wish to hide your moey.
Switzerland’s banking laws will protect your money from banking problems (i.e. they are SAFE) and having your money stashed abroad will protect you from local creditors who file claims against you in your home country, but as for the government agencies like the IRS, your banking info won’t be protected now.
For tax reduction, Swiss Bank accounts are an option. For tax evasion, however, you are best off looking at offshore banking in third world countries like The Caymans, Belize, Costa Rica or one of the countries where the local banks won’t give up your banking information.
Finding Out If You Are Eligible For An Account
All Swiss banks must do increased levels of due diligence if they are taking on foreign customers. Anti-laundering rules mean they have to be extra careful when figuring out who you are and where you are getting your money. If you are from the US, you are going to have a hard time getting a bank account. If you cannot prove where you have got your money from, it will be near impossible to get an account.
The country where you claim residency may prohibit you from getting an account. Your character and reputation may also prohibit you from getting an account too. If their back checks show that you have been in the public eye or had a criminal record, then they may decide to decline your application.
Pick Your Account
If you are looking for credit, you are out of luck because you will need a good track record with the bank before they will consider lending to you. Your main options are a current account for people living there, a savings account and an investing account. You may also have a numbered account, but it doesn’t offer the privacy that it used to. The only benefit is that it is more difficult for outsiders to figure out that you are the one making contact and what account you are talking about. They do not offer savings accounts to foreigners, as they prefer to encourage foreigners to invest.
Are You Living There Or Not?
If you are looking to live in Switzerland for a while, then opening an account is far easier. You may walk into an account, prove that you are living in the country, and they will allow you to open an account in many cases. Usually, you need to be able to prove that you have been there at least three months. If you can prove that you have a job and a working contract, then it all works in you favor.
You Will Need To Turn Up
No Swiss bank will allow foreigners to open accounts remotely. You have to turn up to show that you exist, to prove who you are, to prove where you live, and to prove where you got your money from. There are some banks that will allow you to “complete” the process at home, but that only means posting certain items and being approved by the bank. Most of the process happens in person, especially the verification of your identity.
What Do Most Of Them Ask For?
When you visit in person, they will expect you to take some form of photo identification. They will also require proof and verification of where you get your money from. They want to know the origin of your income both on a regular basis and on an ad-hoc basis. For example, they may want to know how much you pull in per month, and how much you sold your house for.
You will be asked to fill out a great many forms. The bank has to do a massive amount of due diligence in order to confirm and verify your account. To alleviate a little of the pressure off themselves, and to shift the burden a little, they ask that you complete very lengthy forms. It will take over an hour to fill out all the forms. You may ask that the forms are sent to you in advance of visiting, and some banks will even allow you to submit the forms prior to your visit. This gets some of the work out of the way, and it may help disqualify you in advance, which will save you the trip over there.
What Is The Minimum Deposit Amount?
It varies from one bank to another. Unless you are living in Switzerland, they will all require an opening balance. This is an initial deposit that you get back because it ends up in your new account. Many Swiss banks will expect an opening deposit of over a quarter of a million US dollars. Some banks will expect around $60,000 as a minimum starting deposit. Almost all of the banks charge fees for opening an account and maintaining an account. Some customers are able to have these fees waived by depositing larger starting amounts and/or maintaining a minimum balance on their account.
You May Have An Account Manager
This is a person that deals with you personally when it comes to your account. Most of the banks have an English-speaking account manager, but you should check prior to arriving. Many of the banks have at least one person that speaks Romansh, French, German or Italian. If you require a bank account manager that is able to speak a different language, then you will have to request one in advance.
Closing Your Account Is Easy
Once you have your account, you may access it and its many functions online. You will not need to keep visiting the country in order to do banking business; you may do it all online. If you want to close your account, then the Swiss make it very easy. There are no closing restrictions and there are no fees for closing your account.