Best Places to Buy Gold in Europe in 2022

For inflation hedgers, catastrophe preppers, and folks who just want to want a tint of timeless hard money in their portfolio.

These are our currently recommended gold and silver bullion dealers in the EU, UK, Switzerland and rest of Europe. We chose these dealers based on their customer service reputation, the buy/sell spread they charge on coins and bars, and the variety of payment methods they accept (including bank transfer, cash and cryptocurrency).

What you should know

  • Buying physical gold is more expensive than buying gold ETFs and custodial (vaulted) gold due to the premiums added along the supply chain. However, physical bullion comes with the security that your gold is really yours and can’t easily be seized or frozen by a third party.
  • Coins command higher premiums over spot price than gold bars due to manufacturing costs. Larger gold bars offer the lowest premiums of any form of gold bullion and are a compact way to store wealth. However, if gold was used as money, bars would be unpractical for day-to-day use.
  • Gold ETFs are a cost-effective and simple way to get exposure to gold without having to buy, store, insure, and resell the physical metal. Buying gold ETFs means you are purchasing shares in a fund that owns, custodies, and insures the gold on your behalf.
  • Debit cards backed by gold are also in the market, and they function like regular debit cards but are backed by gold held in a personal investment account.
  • “If you don’t hold it, you don’t own it.” There is a considerable counterparty risk in not holding your bullion physically, including confiscation and account freezing.

Online gold dealers are where most people go to buy physical gold these days. In general, buying at a regulated dealer is also the safest way to get your hands on some gold, as they ship packages with insurance and often produce a certificate from the refiner. However, most of these companies have intrusive anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) policies in place, which means you have to provide them with personally identifiable information. Those worried about potential restrictions in gold ownership or other ominous scenarios should minimise the trails they leave online and look into other buying methods.

If you are looking to buy gold and silver privately and avoid the risk of having your information shared with prying third parties, in-store buying with cash or online with cryptocurrency is the way to go. Although it can be tempting, buying gold from strangers on the internet is not recommended unless you are able to verify the purity of the metal in question. But if you have that skillset, trading metals peer-to-peer can both keep your financial information completely private and let you avoid the high margins charged by dealers.

Buying physical bullion provides security in the sense that it’s not “stored” somewhere on the magic clouds of the world wide web but present right in front of you. It’s tangible, it’s real, it’s yours, and no one can hack it from you. The bad news is that buying anything less than a full-size gold bar means you’re going to pay a hefty premium above the spot price for the bullion production, shipping, storage, design, and insurance cost, plus whatever commission the dealer thinks they’re entitled to.

This is the issue most investors face when they buy bullion. They want the physical stuff, but they also dislike the high premiums associated with buying the amounts they can afford. Unfortunately, there’s no way to eliminate these costs if you want to own physical bullion. Self-sovereignty of your financial affairs comes at a steep price. Coins and small bars especially will have a very high markup that’s hard to justify from an investment point of view unless you’re buying collector items or just enjoy the hobby aspect of it.

The alternative to buying physical bullion and keeping it at home is paying for third-party storage, also called custodial storage. The way you invest in gold with a custodial service is that you buy gold “units” from the company, which represent a certain weight of gold stored in their vaults. It means you never receive the metals by post or in person, but the company guarantees that your investment is backed by a corresponding amount of gold stored with them. When you want to sell, you just sell your units back to the company, and they will transfer the money to your account. The benefit of custodial storage is that you avoid the high premiums associated with buying and storing bullion yourself, as the company can buy and store gold in bulk at a lower cost than you could individually.

The bottom line is you have a choice between the freedom of owning physical bullion with the high costs associated with it or entrusting your gold to a custodian at a lower cost but giving up the self-sovereignty aspect of your investment.

Buying gold with cash or cryptocurrency and not giving out your personally identifiable information isn’t the same as nefarious, despite the negative connotations these payment methods have in today’s society.

The problem is most people feel as if they’re doing something illegal when they take extra steps to keep their financial life from public scrutiny. On the contrary: not giving out your personal information left and right and not leaving a transaction record whenever you’re buying something online means taking responsibility for protecting yourself against data leaks, lawsuits, criminals, government agencies, and other prying eyes that are interested in you now or in the future.

A common way to avoid the whole know-your-customer (KYC) is to trade with other private individuals face-to-face. This way, you don’t have to hand over your personally identifiable information and transaction history to a company. The caveat is you need to find someone trustworthy to trade with, as there’s always the possibility that you’ll get ripped off, especially if you’re unskilled in assessing the value and purity of bullion.

Self-storage means direct control of your metals and physical possession whenever you need them, but it also means responsibility for safeguarding your investment day and night. In the event of a crisis, self-storage makes it possible for you to bring your gold with you if you need to evacuate or keep it hidden until you are able to return home. History is full of atrocious examples where people had to bug out in a hurry, the Russia-Ukraine War being the most recent one. On the other hand, an event like the 2021 Cumbre Vieja volcanic eruption on La Palma in the Canary Islands is a good example of why it might make sense to have your gold stored with a third party in a secure custodial facility. Plan on finding your coins under 3 metres of lava? No chance.

Foreign powers are not the only threat to one’s right to ownership — even our own western governments have confiscated or limited gold ownership in the past (and ownership of other assets, for that matter). In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt passed an executive order making it illegal for Americans to own gold, and in 1971 President Nixon announced that the US would no longer exchange gold for US dollars. The UK made it illegal for any person to own more than four gold coins bullion in 1966 (the prohibition was later fully dropped in 1979). In 1959, Australia made it legal to seize gold from private citizens and illegal for citizens to sell gold to anyone but the central bank (this law lasted until 1976).

Today, individually targeted confiscation is perhaps more of a likely threat than war and broad prohibition sweeps as states turn more and more intrusive under the pretence of anti-money laundering laws. Online gold dealers who offer storage solutions require KYC (know your customer) information, which includes very detailed information about your person, income, and wealth. If the custodian isn’t satisfied with your “source of funds” documentation, they could easily freeze your account for an indefinite amount of time. For example, JPMorgan Chase writes in its Safe Deposit Box Agreement that it can “We can restrict access to your box for any reason.”

It could also happen if your nationality suddenly became a problem because of something your country did on the world stage. The scenarios are endless. This is why gold and silver investors generally prefer privacy of ownership and self-storage, despite the inconvenience. Privacy and tangibility are hard to beat as they have zero counter-party risks.

Many new gold investors have the idea that gold is cheaper in X or Z, Y country because they heard from a family member or read it on a website. This is not the case. The price of gold is very much international and rarely varies much on a country-by-country basis. What sets the price of the gold bullion is a stacking of different layers, namely:

  1. Institutional traders make leveraged contracts bets on futures exchanges (mostly the COMEX) on the future price of gold. These contracts and their settlement create fluctuations in the spot price of gold. Gold futures contracts show how strong the interest for or against gold is, and this allows the real-time spot price to be adjusted accordingly.
  2. The spot price of gold, which is a combination of the world’s futures markets and real-time trades. The spot price is the price you’ll see quoted on most precious metals websites. As a private investor, you can’t buy gold at the spot price.
  3. The production costs of mining and processing gold are priced in preemptively. Miners dig up high and low-grade ore, and refiners will process the ore to extract the precious metal. Miners without a proprietary refinery sell their ore to external processes somewhere around or just below the current spot price of gold.
  4. The refinery smelts the gold (first as doré bars, later as pure gold bullion), assay it for purity and cast it into gold bars, coins, or other shapes of bullion. They then sell the gold to retailers, mints, and bullion dealers above gold’s spot price.
  5. Finally, bullion dealers sell gold to the public at a marked-up price that is higher than the spot price. This is the price most retail investors will pay for standard gold bullion. The price of collector’s coins, numismatic gold, and other rare pieces isn’t so much determined by the above layers of producing and market pricing but is more arbitrarily set by how much buyers are willing to pay.

You can avoid the premium gold dealers charge by trading with private individuals, but you do need to be careful about the purity of the gold. It’s not advisable unless you have experience in testing the purity for yourself.

BullionByPost

BullionByPost ships to all EU countries, as well as to the UK, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Andorra. Orders are shipped with insurance and with a tracking number. All orders of any size or value up to €60,000 with free delivery. It’s unclear whether you need to sign for the delivery or not.

BullionByPost only accepts payment by card and bank transfer in euros and pounds. Cash and cryptocurrency payments are not accepted. The limit for card payments is €20,000 per day. There is no limit for bank transfers, although €50,000 is what you can transfer without pre-arranging it with the company.

BullionByPost has one of the largest, if not the largest, range of bullion products in Europe. The gold and silver bar selection goes from 1 gram all the way up to 12.5 kilogram bars. Their coin inventory includes all the popular coins, such as Maple Leafs, Panda, Philharmonic, Eagles, and Krugerrands. You can also find a number of numismatic (collectable) coins, primarily old English pieces such as the Henry VIII Angel and Charles I Unite.

The Silver Mountain

  • Anonymous purchasing

At The Silver Mountain, as with many other regulated Dutch bullion dealers, you have the option to purchase gold and silver anonymously for up to EUR 10.000 through what is called a counter sale. With this type of anonymous purchase, you will receive an invoice without any personal information attached. If you choose to pay with cash, then it must be done so at the office in Baarn during appointments which must be scheduled in advance. Just make sure you stay within the limits of what you’re allowed to bring into your home country (typically EUR 10.000 in the EU).

The Silver Mountain ships to 24 European Union countries. They also ship to the UK, but UK customers have to pay import tax due to Brexit. The company uses UPS for shipping, and all orders are fully insured. Shipping cost is based on the order weight and ranges from around EUR 15 to 25. 

In addition to bank transfers, The Silver Mountain accepts anonymous cash payments for orders up to EUR 10.000 made in their office in Baarn. If you want to pay cash for orders above this amount, you need to contact the store to ask how to proceed. Payments in cryptocurrency are available up to EUR 50,000 by contacting the store.

The coin and bar selection at The Silver Mountain is not as large as what you find at other dealers. The stock is curated with a focus on modern bullion from different mints, with troy-ounce coins like the Canadian Maple Leaf, the American Eagle, Krugerrand, and the Chinese Panda coins. Gold bars in sizes from 1g up to 1kg are available from Umicore, Heraeus, Valcambi, and Pamp Suisse, among others.

BullionVault

The way BullionVault works is that you buy the metals on its website, and BullionVault then stores those metals in its insured vaults on your behalf. As such, there’s not much difference between BullionVault and your typical gold ETF.

Prices on BullionVault are typically lower than those who offer physical delivery, the commission being 0.50% to 0.10%, though the custodial storage fees are 0.01% (including insurance) per month. You can also sell your metals for fiat currency (€/£/$) and withdraw the proceeds to your bank account.

Although BullionVault is a UK company based in London, it is available throughout Europe and in 175 countries in total. If you withdraw physical bullion from BullionVault’s vaults, it is likely that you will have to pay import duties on the precious metals as they are delivered to your country.

BullionVault accepts US dollars, euros, British pounds or Japanese yen. For euro deposits, you can use low-cost SEPA transfers. For USD deposits, wire transfers are required. Card deposits only work for UK-based customers, and the limits are low, with a maximum of GBP 5,000. BullionVault does not accept cash or cryptocurrency payments. 

BullionVault does not offer privacy-friendly purchasing. They require a copy of your passport, proof of your current address, and a bank statement with your name and account number. The company may also request documentation proving the origin of your funds, showing how you obtained the money you’re using to buy gold.

Some users have reported that BullionVault has asked for extensive additional documentation before releasing their funds to them. Finally, BullionVault states in its Terms that it “may report your activity to duly authorized government agencies with a formal right either to monitor bullion trading activity or investigate activity…”

There is no selection of bullion products on BullionVault. You can only buy and sell grams or kilograms of whole gold bars and other metal bars. When you buy bullion on BullionVault, you will own part of a large, good-delivery gold bar that is stored in one of BullionVault’s vaults.

Gold ETFs

Gold ETFs are worth it if you don’t care about physical ownership and just want the cheapest possible exposure to the price movements of the metal. There’s no need to worry about the challenges of storage, security and high premiums, and one significant benefit is these ETFs they can be held in a regular brokerage account alongside your other investments. Some of the largest European gold ETFs measured by assets under management are Invesco Physical Gold, iShares Physical Gold and Amundi Physical Gold.

Most European gold ETFs are structured as exchange-traded certificates, or ETCs. Under this structure, iShares, Invesco, or some other investment company will set up a subsidiary in Ireland or Luxembourg to issue debt instruments with values linked to the day-to-day price movement of gold. When you invest in one of these gold-linked debt instruments, you are essentially lending money to the investment firm. This company will then pool your money with many other investors to purchase and store physical gold bars on your behalf. Most debt-backed bullion is held in J.P Morgan Chase Bank’s vault facilities in London.

Buying gold through ETFs is cheaper than buying physical bullion, though it will not give you physical ownership or privacy. While gold is cheaper per ounce with an ETF, you still need to factor in the costs of buying and selling and the yearly expense ratio charged by the fund manager. Compared to some of the less well-known online gold custodial services, which promise to perform the same service, gold ETFs also appear more trustworthy because of their more robust financial backing, history, and reputation.