If you are planning to move to Switzerland to work or study, it is best you open a Swiss bank account online for non-resident. You can also open an offshore account in Switzerland if you are not moving to the country, or Swiss private banking. In this article, we will take you through the process on how to open a Swiss bank account and provide you with a list of the best Swiss banks.
Swiss Bank Account Opening
- Among the traditional banks that provide bank accounts to non residents include UBS, PostFinance and Credit Suisse. Swiss bank account opening is expensive for non-residents compared to residents.
- If you’re unable to visit Switzerland, you can also make use of virtual banks like Dukascopy to open a virtual bank account. Dukascopy comes with a Swiss bank account number and is available to many citizens in the world.
- You could opt for the Wise Multicurrency Account. It does not come with Swiss bank account details but it lets you hold multiple currencies including Swiss francs.
- If you want a high level of privacy, you can also open a numbered Swiss bank account.
- 1 How to Open a Bank Account in Switzerland
- 2 How to Open a Swiss Bank Account for Non Resident
- 3 How to Open Bank Account in Switzerland from Abroad
- 4 Best Swiss Banks for Foreigners
- 5 How to Open Swiss Bank Account Online Non Resident
- 6 Free virtual Swiss bank account
- 7 Banking Charges
- 8 Swiss Bank Accounts and Taxes
How to Open a Bank Account in Switzerland
Before you can open a Swiss bank account, it is worth noting that ordinary Swiss banks tend to charge high fees for non-residents. The process is very simple for residents, but non-residents can encounter some limitations.
Documents Needed to Open a Swiss Bank Account
To open bank account in Switzerland, you need the following documents:
- Proof of address
- A valid EU or EFTA passport or ID
- Proof of employment
- Proof of residence using a B or C permit
How to Open a Swiss Bank Account for Non Resident
You can open Swiss bank account as a non resident, but you will need to provide more documents than a resident. For example, you can open a Credit Suisse non resident account. You also need to provide proof that you can pay your bills by providing proof of employment or income. You also need to make an initial deposit to activate your account and provide a letter of the correspondent from your home bank. You also need to authorize the bank to notify your home country about your banking activities for taxation.
- Most Swiss banks charge higher fees to customers residing outside of Switzerland and Liechtenstein who want to open a bank account in Switzerland for non residents.
- Some banks waive fees for a Swiss bank account for non residents for customers who hold large number of assets.
How to Open Bank Account in Switzerland from Abroad
It is possible to open a bank account in Switzerland remotely. Some banks will require you to post the documents via post while others will require you to do personal identification through a video call. If you opt to open Swiss bank account from abroad, it is advisable to have a local representative who can present the documents to the bank on your behalf.
You can open a Swiss bank account online before arriving in Switzerland. It is because it is challenging to open a bank account in Switzerland without a permanent address. Also, landlords can fail to offer you a lease if you don’t have a local bank account.
Switzerland prohibits publicizing banking information. Numbered accounts are legal in Switzerland. Only when Swiss banks are performing international transactions on your behalf, you will need to provide personal information. This makes it safe place for people who are seeking privacy. Among the people who visit Switzerland include students, expats, workers and investors.
Best Swiss Banks for Foreigners
Before opening an expat bank account, you need to first identify the best Swiss bank. There are many best Swiss banks that allow one to open an account and do cross-border transactions. These banks guarantee the security of your money. The following are some of the best Swiss banks you can open an account with.
1. Post Finance
You can easily open Swiss bank account with Post Finance Bank that is operated by the national post office. Post Finance has a wide variety of accounts in 10 different currencies, including the Euro. It also offers online and mobile banking while some accounts come with free cash withdrawals.
Post Finance Bank has many branches and ATMs across the country.
UBS is among the oldest and best banks in Switzerland. It was formed after the merger of Union Bank of Switzerland and Swiss Bank Corporation. UBS offers a wide variety of banking products like business banking, personal banking and corporate accounts. UBS also issues credit and debit cards, either Maestro or Visa. UBS offers special bank accounts for families, couples and students; both undergraduate and postgraduate.
While Post Finance focuses on the Swiss market and those of neighboring countries, for business-policy reasons, they offer a limited number of Swiss bank accounts for non residents for interested parties living abroad. Those living abroad must present a specific reason or need for opening a Swiss account.
Customers domiciled outside Switzerland will be charged an additional fee of CHF 25.00 per month and per private account, irrespective of assets. Non-Swiss residents, are being asked to duly complete a declaration to certify compliance with tax obligations.
3. Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse is a global bank and is best suited for foreigners to open bank account in Switzerland. You can use it to open Swiss bank account for non residents or Credit Suisse student account. Credit Suisse offers a wide variety of banking solutions like mortgages and pensions. It has a wide network of branches and ATMs across the country.
Why People Use Swiss Bank Accounts
- Swiss bank privacy is of utmost importance. Sharing information about bank client data is a criminal offense in Switzerland. However, your bank does share account details with other governments for tax purposes.
- Swiss banks are considered among the safest in the world. The Swiss franc also is a stronger currency than the US Dollar, Pound Sterling or Euro.
- It is possible to open a Swiss bank account for UK citizens, as well as from almost all countries in the world.
How to Open Swiss Bank Account Online Non Resident
Swiss bank account opening is easy with virtual bank accounts as an alternative. You can open and manage an account online and abroad. You can use virtual bank account like Wise and N26 that come with a personal IBAN. The following are some of the best Swiss banks for foreigners.
Free virtual Swiss bank account
- Dukascopy is a free virtual Swiss bank account that you can open from many places in the world, also for non Swiss residents. It allows you to have up to 23 different currencies in your account, including GBP, USD, AUD, CNH and PLN.
Dukascopy is a digital bank that mainly deals with trading but you can use it to open a Swiss bank account online. It offers a multicurrency account with IBAN and forex trading through Swiss FX Marketplace. Moreover, Dukascopy is is a crypto friendly bank providing services such as cryptocurrency CFDs trading, trading and payments with Dukascoin (first regulated and licenced crypto in Switzerland), and crypto investment.
With Dukascopy you can open an account with only 100 USD or less. Dukascopy offers plastic cards while you can create virtual credit cards in 4 currencies. You can also manage over 23 different currencies like GBP, USD, AUD, PLN and CNH in your account. Dukascopy has cheaper and better access to most of the world’s markets. It does come with some minimal fees for transfer (even in the SEPA zone), but it is one of the easiest ways to open a Swiss Bank Account online.
2. Wise (formerly TransferWise)
You can open Wise Multicurrency account before relocating to Switzerland. It is easy to open an account online and abroad and will help you hold multiple currencies including Swiss francs. You are able to open Wise personal account as well as Wise business account.
If you are a foreigner and want to open a bank in Switzerland, you can also use Wise to open a bank account online. It does not come with a Swiss bank-account itself, but it is a Multicurrency account. Wise multicurrency account supports 5 local accounts that support British pounds, Australian dollars, Euros, Hungarian forints, New Zealand Dollars, Singapore dollars, US dollars, Turkish Lira and Romanian leu. In addition, you can use Wise account to hold over 50 currencies. You can exchange currencies using real exchange rates in the market and it does not have hidden fees.
N26 is a virtual bank you can use to open Swiss bank account for non residents. N26 comes with IBAN for personal account and business account in the SEPA zone. This is a German IBAN, but can be used in the same way as any other European IBAN account. N26 gives control of your finances. You can start spending your finances via the mobile app as you wait for your physical card to arrive. You also get real-time push notifications for transactions in your account.
Note that to open a bank account in Switzerland as a non-resident, you must be at least 18 years old. For virtual bank accounts you will need to enter a videocall in which you have to supply your official identification. Official proof of address on the other hand is not needed
Switzerland became part of SEPA in 2006. Therefore, all the Swiss payments must respect the set standards by the member states. You should expect to be charged normal banking fees. Some of these charges include a monthly fee for using the bank account. The other fees include ATM charges while the credit and debit cards can attract annual fees.
Swiss Bank Accounts and Taxes
In the past, many people used Swiss bank accounts as well as other off-shore bank accounts to prevent paying taxes in their own countries. More and more this is becoming more difficult to do. In order to prevent tax evasion, a Swiss bank is supposed to share your tax data with any of these countries. If your country is listed, then your Swiss bank will inform your national tax authorities about your bank account and the following information.
Disclosure of information to member countries
- The full name, address, tax identification number and date of birth/incorporation of all persons and legal entities linked to the account as an account holder or/and beneficial owner if they have tax residence in at least one Partner State.
- In addition, your bank will transmit to FTA the account number, the account balance as at the last day of the year, the total profit or loss resulting from investments on the account, if any, for the past year, and your personal name/identifier of your account.
- According to this tax-evasion agreement, the information may only be used for handling or supervising taxation in the Partner States which receive it. Partner States must keep the information confidential and shall not forward it to any other states.
It is challenging to open a bank account for foreigners in Switzerland compared to residents. If you are a foreigner and you want to open a bank account in Switzerland, you can open one with virtual bank accounts like Wise, N26, or Dukascopy or traditional banks like PostFinance, Credit Suisse and UBS.