Switzerland Residency Permit Program
Switzerland is a landlocked country, surrounded by mainland Europe’s most populated nations: France, Germany and Italy. It’s one of the best countries to live in the world, ranking consistently high in every sort of metric: access to capital, economic freedom, talent retention, quality of education and more.
For over a century, Switzerland has been a bedrock of Europe’s wealth. The country has always been attractive for its sound and discrete banking practices, as well as its tax-friendly environment. Switzerland is a federation of cantons. Zurich is its richest and most populated one.
To apply for residency in Switzerland, you must first get approval from the Swiss canton you want to move to. The two main options for Americans are the Rentier and Self-employed programs. To apply as a Rentier in Switzerland, you will need to demonstrate regular and stable income. Furthermore, some cantons will require you to register to the lump-sum taxation scheme. To qualify for the Self-employed, you must present your revenue project to a canton. Approval rests on the project’s benefit to the canton.
Both resident permit categories will require you to become a tax resident in Switzerland. Permanent residency and citizenship in Switzerland are both possible after 10 years of legal residency.
Switzerland Crypto Environment
Switzerland’s government has indicated that it will continue to work toward a regulatory environment that is friendly to cryptocurrencies. In 2016, the town of Zug, a prominent global cryptocurrency hub, introduced Bitcoin as a way of paying city fees, while in January 2018 Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann stated that he was aiming to make Switzerland “the crypto-nation.” Similarly, Swiss Secretary for International Finance Jörg Gasser has emphasized the need to promote cryptocurrencies while upholding existing financial standards.
Building on those objectives, in late 2020, Switzerland’s Federal Department of Finance began a consultation on new blanket cryptocurrency regulations that would enable the country to take advantage of blockchain technology without stifling innovation.
German, French, Italian and Romansh
EU (90 days in 180 days)
3 to 4 months
183 days a year
Download our free factsheet with more detailed information about this program.
Who Can Qualify?
There are a total of 26 cantons in Switzerland and you can obtain a resident permit in any of them. Each canton issues resident permits on its own, so the investor chooses the region of the country first. The Rentier program is generally offered by cantons that have not abolished the lump sum tax alternative. Under the lump-sum taxation schemes, Rentiers must commit to paying an annual minimum lump sum of 150,000 CHF. Americans who apply for Rentier status remain liable to U.S. taxation and that lump sum commitment.
Each canton has its own requirements, but it’s generally agreed that a bank transfer of 1 million CHF into a Swiss bank account would qualify most applicants. The popular canton for lump-sum taxation are the cantons of Geneva and Zug.
The Self-employed program is offered by all the cantons. The applicant must prove that there will be a lasting positive impact on the Swiss labor market. You will need to provide a business plan highlighting details of the operation, the project and who is responsible for the expenses. In addition, you will need to show how you hold the relevant commercial license(s).
Holders of a Switzerland Rentier or Self-employed resident permit gain a Schengen visa and the ability to enter the Schengen Area. Switzerland is one of the most business-friendly countries in Europe, providing great access to all of Europe’s main economies. As an American, you are eligible for permanent residency in Switzerland after 10 years instead of 12. Swiss citizenship is also possible after 10 years of residency, but it has a different set of requirements.
As a Swiss resident permit holder, you will be allowed to include your spouse and unmarried children below the age of 18.
Under the Switzerland Rentier permit, you will need to meet your annual tax contribution. You are also not allowed to work in Switzerland other than managing your own assets and wealth. You must hold a valid private health insurance.
The permit must be renewed annually. Under the Switzerland Self-Employed permit, you will need to show that the company has been properly registered and that contributions to the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund (OASI) or the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (SUVA) have been made. You will need to show sufficient income so you are at no risk of needing welfare assistance.
The permit is valid for two years and must be renewed every two years. The general requirements to gain the initial residency are:
- Making Switzerland known as your main residence
- Having convenient accommodations in the canton
- Providing a police certificate from your country of residence
- Showing a link with the community (relatives, travel in the past, etc.)
Swiss Residency Application Process
The usual time to get a resident permit in Switzerland is three to five months from start to finish. The Self-employed route could take more time based on your project.
- Verify eligibility
- Start client onboarding process with Global RCG.
- Global RCG helps you gather the required documents.
- Global RCG assists you in choosing the most suitable canton in Switzerland to apply with.
Access to the US
As an Investor Visa applicant, you will receive a multi-exit visa allowing you to travel in and out of the UAE. As an American, you can already spend 30 days a year in the UAE with a visa on arrival. You are able to extend it for a fee. But your UAE resident permit will guarantee you entry in the UAE even during COVID-19 travel restrictions.
In the future, you might able to become a UAE citizen after a few years. The UAE passport provides visa-free access to more than 150 countries worldwide, including the EU, Canada, China, Russia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Brazil.
Access to the US
Switzerland has a visa-waiver program with America, which allows Swiss passport holders to visit the U.S. without a visa for up to 90 days. Switzerland also has an E-2 treaty with the U.S., allowing for the establishment of a business in the U.S. The E-2 is considered a nonimmigrant visa, however, and E-2 visa holders will still face some U.S. taxation.
Switzerland has a tax treaty with the U.S., enabling Americans to be protected against double taxation. Switzerland does not impose taxes on capital gains generated in Switzerland. Foreign income is taxed at the same rate as the personal income rate and can reach above 40% in certain jurisdictions.
Those applying for the lump-sum taxation might not be able to offset their U.S. tax payment from their lump-sum commitment. The amount of lump-sum taxation that an investor needs to pay is calculated based on five times the annual rental income compared to annual living expenses, whichever is higher.
For instance, if an investor rents an apartment for 10,000 CHF a month and his total living expenses are 200,000 CHF annually, then his annual rent is 120,000 CHF, which when multiplied by five becomes 600,000 CHF. Since 600,000 CHF is more than the annual living expenses of the investor, the payable tax will be calculated at 30% of CHF 600,000 annually.
Switzerland does not levy a property tax; instead, it levies a wealth tax on its residents’ worldwide assets. This tax liability can be mitigated by the lump-sum taxation contribution.
Due to the complex nature of U.S. taxation, you should get professional tax advice before moving your tax residency to Switzerland.