7th December 2020 | Tingyuan Zhang | China & World Sales Specialist

Top 5 European locations for international banking

When talking about international bank, you may ask: “What can an international bank account give me that an account at traditional bank can’t?” 

There are many benefits to opening an international bank account. For individuals, an international account can help them to shop online without paying currency conversion fees, to withdraw cash when traveling all around the world, to invest in European and US financial markets, protect assets and maintain limited privacy of their finance situation. For small and medium-sized enterprises that are doing business with foreign companies, the traditional banking services may not be able to meet their needs due to various restrictions. International banks are more convenient and flexible than major traditional banks in currency exchange and international transfers. Therefore, they are favored by small and medium enterprises. In addition, for investors, having an international bank account will provide great help for their investments in overseas assets and financial services.

In Europe, some of the main international banks are located in Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Cyprus, and Gibraltar.


In the public's mind, Switzerland has always been the best place for the richest people in the world to hide their money. This is because the country has a long history of financial services and an internationally recognized permanent neutral status. Switzerland’s strict privacy laws ensure that investors’ identities and transactions are kept strictly confidential. Together with safe banking and a strong currency, it is the perfect place for investors to deposit and invest in the world. Although many banks in Switzerland would like to provide more digital services to customers, their technology transformation has many barriers in the popularization of new technologies. Therefore, it is generally slow for Switzerland’s banks to catch up to the trend of digitalization.


Since German banks must provide financial stability and security agreements, Germany has always been regarded as one of the safest deposit locations. The services extended by these banks are far superior to those offered by banks in other countries, that include easy access to bank accounts and low accounts opening costs. While it is one of the most secure place for international banks, one of the disadvantages for German accounts is that foreign accounts usually have low interest rates and offer less currency diversification. 


While it may be one of Europe's smallest nations, Luxembourg is the largest European Union fund domicile. The country is in the heart of Europe. Its excellent geographical location, stable political and economic system and low tax rates make it an excellent choice for the banking industry and investment management. Luxembourg is also gaining attention for its creation of low-tax, high-security storage facilities for the housing of assets such as fine art, precious metals, classic cars, and even wine. On the other hand, Luxembourg’s banks must share bank depositor information with other EU countries since 2015. This decision may have a negative impact for Luxembourg to become an offshore financial center.


Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004 and is known on the three continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa for its superior position in the Mediterranean. As a member of the European Union, Cyprus has strict laws to protect international financial operations in its jurisdiction. Due to the low tax rate system for offshore companies and resident companies, the country is often regarded as a tax haven by European investors and businessmen. However, the banking crisis of 2013 had a huge impact on the banking industry in Cyprus. Although Cyprus government has undergone substantial reforms, the banking industry in Cyprus has not yet fully recovered.


Gibraltar, the British Overseas Territories in Europe is considered to be one of the best location for global banking and wealth management services. It is thanks to an ease of creating new offshore companies and pro banking, insurance, and investment fund management environment. Although Gibraltar is not as well-known as the countries mentioned above, it has unique advantages in financial services and business. 

In Gibraltar, both individuals and companies can open international bank accounts. One of the characteristics of international banks is to provide customers with confidential and safe services, and banks in Gibraltar are no exception. The identity of Gibraltar bank account holders is confidential and will only be disclosed under a court order. Customers of offshore banks can enjoy safe, confidential, and private financial services in here.

Another advantage of Gibraltar is the legal system. The legal system used is very similar to that of the United Kingdom. As we all know, as the cradle of the Anglo-American legal system, British law is the foundation of the legal systems of many Western countries (such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.). The laws of Gibraltar are based on the common law of United Kingdom and have strict rules for every detail so they can provide investors with comprehensive legal protection. For example, the Gibraltar Deposit Guarantee Scheme (“GDGS”) will protect depositors and pays compensation in the event of a Credit Institution authorised by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (“GFSC”) being unable to repay deposits. The Gibraltar Investor Compensation Scheme (“GICS”) exists to protect customers of financial services firms that have failed. 

Gibraltar is one of the world’s leading jurisdictions to welcome and regulate fintech businesses. Gibraltar was the first jurisdiction in the world to introduce legislation for Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) businesses that hold or transfer third parties’ value with Blockchain technology. Gibraltar is also introducing regulations for initial coin offerings with special rules for the cryptocurrency. These will help Gibraltar to establish the perfect environment for fintech business. In addition, Gibraltar established a stock exchange in 2015, so customers can directly use Gibraltar offshore bank accounts to invest in European stocks, funds, bonds, and other financial products.


In Europe, many countries and regions are ideal locations for opening bank accounts. When choosing an international bank, the legal protection of the area, the bank ’s security measures and the convenience of opening an account should be the first consideration. Choosing an international bank is the first step in overseas investment. You can choose the location that suits you according to your needs or consult with an experienced financial professional.

Notice: Golden Sand Bank ("Bank") exercised due diligence to ensure that the information contained in this publication was not incorrect or untrue as at the date of publication. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, the Bank does not provide any formal tax advisory.

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