04 Jan Switzerland residency by investment – 2023 Guide
Switzerland actively welcomes high-net-worth non-EU individuals and foreign investors who want to invest in the country. In exchange for a significant financial contribution to the Swiss economy, you can gain permanent residency in this prosperous and beautiful part of Europe. After ten years of residency, you may be eligible to apply for full citizenship.
This article describes the Switzerland residency by investment program and its many benefits, covering these areas:
- Switzerland residency by investment – What is it?
- Benefits of Swiss residency
- Why choose Switzerland?
- Switzerland residency by investment options
- Switzerland’s residency by investment eligibility requirements
- How to apply for Switzerland residency – Step-by-step
- Switzerland residency by investment – Documents required
- What is the minimum investment required for Swiss residency?
- Can you buy Swiss citizenship?
- Can I get residency in Switzerland if I buy a house?
Switzerland residency by investment – What is it?
Swiss residency by investment allows non-EU or EFTA nationals to live as residents in Switzerland after making an investment. There are two options, involving business investment or a lump-sum annual payment. In both cases, you are required to buy or rent substantial property in the country.
After living as a resident in Switzerland for ten years, you can apply for Swiss citizenship by naturalisation.
Benefits of Swiss residency
No other country can beat Switzerland’s wonderful combination of beautiful scenery and favourable tax and business arrangements. These are just some of the many other benefits enjoyed by Swiss residents:
- A robust, regulated, secure financial system based on banking and insurance banking. Foreign investors seeking privacy have Switzerland at the top of their lists.
- A rich society – business and living costs in Switzerland are high, but so are wages. The business and cultural system is geared towards those who can afford to pay.
- Excellent infrastructure, with reliable communications, energy, roads and transport, public services, and research and development facilities.
- A thriving business hub for companies of all sizes and sectors (notably a host of international finance companies), as well as enterprises and private entrepreneurs.
- Great schools and world-renowned universities.
- If you opt for naturalisation after ten years, your Swiss passport – ranked the sixth best in the world – gives you visa-free travel to 172 countries, including all European Union member states, the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan.
Why choose Switzerland?
Switzerland is home to some famously beautiful mountain, lakeside and forest scenery, with many national parks and jaw-dropping landscapes. It is a multicultural and multilingual country with a favourable tax system and one of the world’s most politically and economically stable systems, with several major international companies based here. There are excellent educational institutions and healthcare services, too.
Bern, Geneva, and Zurich are frequently named as some of the best cities in the world for residents, and they are popular destinations for tourists, too, along with the fabulous scenery of the Swiss Alps and lakes. The country is also notable for its excellent cuisine – and there’s far more to it than the famous Swiss cheeses.
Switzerland Residency by investment options
There are two routes to the Swiss Residence Program (also known as the Swiss Golden Visa) for non-EU/EFTA applicants. Option 1 is Swiss Lump Sum Taxation. This involves a minimum CHF 250,000 annual lump sum tax payment to the Swiss canton you choose to live in. In some cantons, this figure can be as high as CHF 1.5 million annually. Investors taking this route are not allowed to work or set up a business in Switzerland. The option is particularly suitable for wealthy individuals or retirees.
Option 2 is the Swiss Business Investor Program, which involves establishing a new company in Switzerland or investing in an existing Swiss company with a turnover of no less than CHF 1 million per year. The investment must benefit Switzerland by maintaining or creating jobs for Swiss citizens. The business investment must be in the canton where you live and maintained throughout your residency.
Switzerland’s residency by investment eligibility requirements
To apply for Swiss residency by investment, you must tick the following boxes:
- A non-EU/EFTA citizen
- Aged 18 to 55
- Demonstrable sources of income
- Proof of financial status
- Clean criminal record
- Good health
- Owned or rented accommodation in one of the Swiss cantons
Your spouse, parents and dependent children under 18 can be included in the application.
Switzerland has various residency categories, depending on a person’s origins. European Union and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) citizens are able to apply for residence permits with minimal red tape as long as they have a contract with a Swiss employer or can demonstrate financial independence or successful self-employed in the country. For non-EU or EFTA nationals, the process is more complex.
How to apply for Switzerland residency – Step-by-step
Step 1 – Month 1. Choose an investment option. It is recommended to employ an agent such as Huriya Private to provide advice on Swiss residency options and the paperwork involved.
Step 2 – Month 2. Provide the required documentation and submit them to the Swiss authorities. This will involve signing various legal documents and passing a due diligence check. Once everything has been passed and approved, you will be able to make your investment. Once again, the guidance of an expert agency such as Huriya Private is strongly recommended.
Step 3 – Month 1. Apply for a visa, category D. Once your application has been approved, you can apply for a visa by submitting the required documents and bank statements. You will also need a health insurance policy and proof of your personal and business reputation.
Step 4 – Month 2. Once you have received your visa, you can make your investment your – either a company set-up or a lump-sum tax payment – and apply for a Swiss residence permit. This involves more paperwork from the Swiss canton where you live, and you must also register with local state bodies.
Step 5 – Months 4 to 6. Receive your Swiss residence permit.
Step 6 – Yearly to Year 10. Renew your Swiss residence permit annually, and after ten years, you can apply for Swiss citizenship. To do so, in addition to proof of your cultural ties to the country, you must be proficient in one of Switzerland’s official languages (German, French and Italian) and demonstrate that you have successfully integrated into Swiss society.
Switzerland residency by investment – Documents required
The following documents are required to apply for the Swiss Residence Golden Visa Program:
- A completed application form
- A valid passport or ID card
- Proof of financial resources and income
- Current Swiss health insurance
- Proof of good character
- Proof of relationship with family members
- A statement (if applicable) that you will bear the living expenses of family members included in the application.
What is the minimum investment required for Swiss residency?
With option 1, Swiss Lump Sum Taxation, you can gain residency via a payment of CHF 250,000 (or more, depending on which Swiss canton you live in). For this sum, you can live in the country with your family, with no requirement to declare worldwide income and assets to the tax authorities.
The lump sum taxation you will pay is based on five times your annual rental income or living expenses (whichever is higher).
Option 2, the Swiss Business Investor Program, involves a minimum investment of CHF 1 million in a government-approved business. This can be a branch office of an existing business, a limited liability company or a stock corporation.
Can you buy Swiss citizenship?
There is no Swiss citizenship by investment program. The schemes on offer allow residency by investment, and citizenship by naturalisation can be applied for after ten years of residency (involving a continuous legal presence in the country), subject to Swiss cantonal residence requirements. If you have family links to the country, such as a Swiss spouse or parents, you may be able to apply for a fast-track citizenship.
Applicants for naturalisation are required to demonstrate their integration into Swiss culture and society, be of good character and pose no threat to national security. Dual citizenship is possible in Switzerland, so you can also retain your original nationality while holding a Swiss passport.
Can I get residency in Switzerland if I buy a house?
Residency cannot be achieved by property purchase alone. Applicants must choose either the Swiss Lump Sum Taxation or the Swiss Business Investor Program option (see above).
Buying property in Switzerland is difficult for non-residents, and approvals are needed from the relevant canton. However, the process is relatively easy if you have a Swiss residence permit. As a resident, you can purchase a house or apartment for personal use with no need to seek prior approval. It is also possible for foreign-controlled Swiss companies to purchase commercial real estate for their own use.
Contact Huriya Private now to learn more about citizenship programs and how you can start your journey towards securing a valuable second passport.