Swiss citizenship For Members

Is it true you must be rich to get Swiss residency or citizenship?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Is it true you must be rich to get Swiss residency or citizenship?
You'll need lots more of these to buy yourself a golden visa. Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

Many people believe that everything in Switzerland revolves around money. Is this the case with permits and citizenship as well?


First of all, you should not believe everything you read on social media because the cyber world is rife with myths and misconceptions — one of which has it that everyone in Switzerland must own a gun, and that anonymous bank accounts still exist (neither is true).

But going back to the citizenship and permit issue: you might think the logical answer to this question is ‘no’ but, in fact, it is not as clear-cut.

This is why.

If you are a permanent resident with a C permit and meet all the criteria for citizenship (length of stay, language skills, and integration), you can apply for naturalisation, regardless of your financial status or nationality.

READ ALSO: How to apply for Swiss citizenship

You don’t need to be rich per se, but you do need to be employed and not depend on social aid or have debts.

This is the usual and most common way of obtaining citizenship.

In terms of residency permits, however, different rules apply.

If you are an EU or EFTA national, you needn’t worry — you have an almost unlimited access to Swiss’s labour market, and to Switzerland in general.

READ ALSO: Just how freely can EU citizens move to (and within) Switzerland?

If, however, you are a citizen of the do-called ‘third nation’ (that is, non-EU / EFTA states), you won’t be able to get a permit as easily.

In this case, you really do have to be quite wealthy.


'Significant fiscal interest'

The little known and rarely used Article 30 of the Federal Aliens Act enables foreigners from outside Europe to move to Switzerland —but only if they are sufficiently wealthy, which means they can prove that they have sufficient financial means to live in Switzerland without having to work or resort to welfare benefits.

Based on this law, cantons can issue residence permits B to these people (aptly called 'golden visas'), if local authorities deem that there is a “significant fiscal interest” in such a move.

How much money is that, exactly?

Basically, it means you have enough money to generate generous taxes in your community.  

The exact amount depends — like so many other things in Switzerland — on your canton.

For instance, the lowest annual tax rate for a non-EU foreigner is 287,882 francs in Valais; 312,522 francs in Geneva; and 415,000 Vaud. 

Every year, around 40 to 50 people ‘buy’ their way into Switzerland this way, mostly from Saudi Arabia, the United States, Brazil, and China.

Russians used to take advantage of this obscure law as well, but they are no longer welcome in Switzerland (or elsewhere in Europe for that matter).

READ ALSO: What you need to know about golden visas in Switzerland


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also