non-bank safe deposit boxes switzerland
Investing & Retirement

Non-Bank Safe Deposit Boxes in Switzerland – Who Are They For?

May 18, 2023 - Daniel Dreier

Get informed about safe deposit boxes offered by non-bank secure storage companies in Switzerland.

Family heirlooms, expensive jewelry, and valuable collections are just a few of the items which you may not feel comfortable storing at home where the danger of fire or theft is ever-present. Although you may be able to insure certain valuables (at least in part) with household insurance or specialized valuables insurance, there is no way to recover the sentimental value of stolen or damaged goods. In the case of one-of-a-kind items, a loss can be devastating, regardless of insurance benefits.

Because of this, many people store their most valuable items in safe deposit boxes. Many Swiss banks cater to this need by hosting secure storage units at some locations. Aside from individuals storing personal possessions, these secure storage facilities are popular among people who prefer to hold their wealth in precious metals or banknotes rather than as bank account balances.

Valuables held in safe deposit boxes are not affected by bank insolvencies, while only a very limited portion of assets held in banks are insured against bank bankruptcy. Keeping your money in a safe deposit box also lets you avoid the limitations on withdrawals imposed by almost all banks.

Additionally, as explained in the moneyland.ch guide to bank safe deposit boxes, storing your wealth in this way can also safeguard it during periods of negative interest rates. In that case, the deciding factor is whether or not the cost of renting a safe is lower than the cost of negative interest charged by banks.

Advantages of non-bank safe deposit boxes

Access to bank-operated safe deposit boxes is limited. In order to hold a safe deposit box at a Swiss bank, you are usually required to have a bank account at that bank.

Non-resident Swiss citizens may experience difficulty opening Swiss bank accounts. As a non-resident foreigner, opening a Swiss bank account can be almost impossible, especially if you are an average person and not a high-net-worth individual.

Non-bank safe deposit boxes provide a more accessible alternative for people who cannot or prefer not to store their valuables at a bank. A number of private organizations rent out safe deposit boxes in Switzerland.

Another possible advantage is that most non-bank safe deposit box service providers let you insure the contents of your safe. That generally is not the case with bank safe deposit boxes. Many private Swiss secure storage companies give you some insurance for the contents of your safe deposit box at no additional cost. You generally have the option of buying more insurance, for which you pay a separate insurance premium. The downside is that this insurance is often expensive, with annual premiums ranging between 0.15 percent and 1 percent of the sum insured, depending on the service provider and location.

Disadvantage of private safe deposit boxes

The main disadvantage of non-bank safe deposit boxes is the price. Many service providers charge much higher rents for their safe deposit boxes than Swiss banks do.

What does a non-bank safe deposit box cost?

The rents of private safe deposit boxes are typically higher than those charged for bank safe deposit boxes. However, because you are not required to maintain a bank account, you avoid paying possible bank account fees. This is especially beneficial in the case of non-residents who pay high non-resident fees at most Swiss banks, if they can open or maintain an account at all.

Prices vary broadly, so comparing the price in addition to the security and location of a storage unit is important. Price is the deciding factor when storing insured cash, gold bullion or other replaceable items. If you are storing irreplaceable items which no amount of insurance compensation can bring back, location and security play a much more important role. Location is also important if you expect to deposit and collect items from your safe deposit box frequently.

There are numerous non-bank safe deposit box providers in Switzerland. Here we list some examples:

  • Safes Fidelity in Geneva is among the more affordable providers, at 210 francs per annum for its smallest safes.
  • Sincona offers safe deposit boxes in Zurich starting from 250 francs per year.
  • Philoro offers safes in Wittenbach (St. Gallen) and Zurich. Rents start at 275 francs per year. The price includes 5000 francs of insurance.
  • Pro Aurum provides safe storage solutions in Kilchberg, just outside of Zurich. Its rents start at around 350 francs per annum and include 50,000 francs of insurance coverage.
  • Degussa provides safe deposit boxes in Zurich and Geneva, with prices starting at 432 francs per year. The price includes 30,000 francs of insurance.
  • Swiss Gold Safe has some of the highest prices, with rentals for its vaults starting at 512 francs. The price includes 25,000 francs of insurance. The higher price may be justified by the fact that vaults are located deep inside a mountain in a former military bunker.

There are many more non-bank safe deposit box providers across Switzerland. It is worth comparing offers based on your needs and location.

Verdict:

If you are looking for secure storage in Switzerland for your valuable possessions and you cannot open a Swiss bank account, a non-bank safe deposit box provides a viable alternative to bank safe deposit boxes.

More on this topic:
Swiss bank safe deposit boxes compared
Guide to Swiss precious metal bank accounts
Tips for buying gold in Switzerland
Bonded warehouses in Switzerland: A basic introduction
Diamonds as an investment: A basic guide
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Editor Daniel Dreier
Daniel Dreier is editor and personal finance expert at moneyland.ch.
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