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Which nationalities own most properties in Switzerland?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Which nationalities own most properties in Switzerland?
Lots of British people own properties in Switzerland.Image by Stanly8853 from Pixabay

If you thought foreign nationals couldn't (or just don’t) own Swiss properties, a new study shows otherwise.


Obviously, most homes and apartments in Switzerland are owned by Swiss nationals.

But a number of properties also belong to foreigners .

In fact, even though the country is notoriously expensive and has strict rules about who can and can’t buy real estate here, Switzerland is among the top 10 international property markets in Europe.

This a finding of the new Wealth Report 2023, which looks into global property market trends. 


What did the survey find out about Switzerland?

The main foreigners who purchased a home or an apartment in Switzerland are people from the UK.

They are followed, in second place, by those from Italy, and then France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates.  

The report doesn’t shed any light on why more people from the UK buy properties in Switzerland than other nationalities.

However, given how the Swiss law works, it is easy to draw certain conclusions.

Generally speaking, foreigners are allowed to buy homes in Switzerland if they reside here.

One important consideration is whether a person is a Swiss citizen/resident or not.

Those living in Switzerland as an EU/EFTA citizen, can purchase property – indeed,  they have the same rights in this respect as Swiss citizens.


Given this requirement, how can we explain why British citizens are the number-one home owners among foreigners?

The obvious reason here is that they have purchased their properties before Brexit, while they could still do so as part of the EU/EFTA.

In fact, the vast majority of British citizens currently residing in Switzerland had settled here before Brexit; therefore, according to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), they could keep the rights they acquired while their country was still part of the EU. 

READ ALSO: Can foreigners buy property in Switzerland?


What about the other nationals on the list?

Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany are all EU member states, so it is no wonder that nationals from these countries own properties in Switzerland — either because they live here permanently or have a second home in the country.

There's a little more a mystery surrounding the last entry on the list, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). You may be wondering how people from the UAE were able to own real estate here.

The answer is simple: non-EU/EFTA nationals need a special authorisation to buy second homes, but they don’t need permission to purchase their main residence if they have long-term B or settlement C permits.

READ ALSO :What are Switzerland's rules for foreigners buying property?


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