Switzerland has a highly developed banking system. Swiss banks are also known to be a safe place for people who are seeking privacy. This article will guide you on how to open a Swiss bank account for a non-resident. We will also explain the best banks in Switzerland for when you want to move there.
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 a safe place for people who are seeking privacy. Among the people who visit Switzerland include students, expats, workers and investors.
Swiss bank accounts and safety
- Sharing information about bank client data is a criminal offense in Switzerland. There are exceptions to this privacy rule. In order to prevent tax evasion, a Swiss bank is supposed to share your tax data with any of these countries. Is your country listed, then your Swiss bank will inform your national tax authorities about your bank account. See for more information the bottom of this page.
- Swiss banks are considered among the safest in the world.
- It is for example possible to open a Swiss bank accounts for UK citizens, as well as from almost all countries in the world.
- 1 Documents Needed to Open a Bank Account
- 2 How to Open a Swiss Bank Account for a Non-Resident
- 3 Free virtual Swiss bank account
- 4 How to Open a Switzerland Bank Account From Abroad
- 5 Best Swiss Banks for Expats
- 6 Using Virtual Bank Account as an Alternative
- 7 Free virtual Swiss bank account
- 8 Banking Charges
- 9 Swiss bank accounts and Taxes
- 10 Conclusion
Documents Needed to Open a Bank Account
It is somehow complicated to open a bank account in Switzerland. This is because it is known to be a safe place for people seeking privacy and hence in case of an issue, banks are held responsible. It is important you present the following documents in person, proof of identity like a passport, proof of residence such as a visa and proof of address like a utility bill. Also, you will need a correspondent bank if there is a local branch in your home country. If you want to open a Swiss bank account for non-resident, you will be required to provide proof of income or produce a letter from the employer and also make a deposit to the account.
How to Open a Swiss Bank Account for a Non-Resident
You can open a Swiss bank account as a non-resident. For example, Credit Suisse non-resident account. However, you will need to provide more documents than a resident. You will need to prove that you can pay your bills by providing documents that show details of your income. To activate the account, you will need to make an initial deposit. Also, you must authorize the bank to notify your home country about your banking activities for taxation.
Swiss bank account for non-residents
- Most Swiss banks charge higher fees to customers residing outside of Switzerland and Liechtenstein who want to open a non-resident Swiss bank account.
- Some banks waive fees for a non-resident bank account for customers who hold large number of assets.
Free virtual Swiss bank account
- Dukascopy is a free to open virtual Swiss bank account that you can open from most places in the world, also for non Swiss residents. The current account allows you to have up to 23 different currencies in your account, including GBP, USD, AUD, CNH and PLN. The bank has different charges for withdrawal transfers (2 euro for a SEPA transfer) but account maintenance is for free. It comes with a CHF 100,000 deposit protection.
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 video-call in which you have to supply your official identification. An official proof of address is not needed. You have to be at least 14 years of age.
How to Open a Switzerland Bank Account From Abroad
You can open a bank account remotely. However, you will be required to send documents via post. However, you are strongly advised to open a Switzerland bank account from abroad using a local representative who will present the documents to the bank on your behalf.
Opening a bank account in person is easier before you arrive in Switzerland. This happens because it is challenging to open a bank account without a permanent address. Landlords might find it difficult to offer you lease without having a local bank account.
Best Swiss Banks for Expats
There are many choices of best Swiss banks for expats where you can open an account. You can also choose these banks for corporate bank account in Switzerland. In case you want a bank where you can make day to day transactions, private and investment banks might not work well for you. The following are some of the best Swiss banks you might consider to open an account with.
1. Post Finance
Post Finance is run by the post office. They have banking services such as currency accounts in more than ten different currencies such as EUR, CHF. They have affordable rates and free student accounts with favorable interest rates.
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.
UBS is one of the largest banks in Switzerland. It has well-networked ATMs and branches countrywide. Banking information is available online in English which can be accessed using mobile phones. They have a wide variety of banking products which can be customized from a menu. The bank has flat fees structure.
3. Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse is a global bank that provides an individual consultation when you open a bank account to ensure that you choose the best package and product. They have a wide range of banking services which include mortgages and pensions. They have branches well situated all over the country with well-networked ATMs. You can also open Credit Suisse bank account for a non-resident or Credit Suisse student account.
Using Virtual Bank Account as an Alternative
As an expat, you will need to send money outside Switzerland frequently. You can request your bank to assist you. However, the process might be expensive due to the currency conversion fee. Banks make use of mid-market rates to exchange funds between themselves, which increases the cost.
There is an alternative way; you can use a virtual bank account with your personal IBAN. This process can be used to send funds to over 32 countries in more 212 currencies. When you use this method, you will save 85 percent of the fees you could have otherwise spent as conversion fee. Options include N26, Revolut and Transferwise.
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.
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. An 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. Is your country 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 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 possible to open a Swiss bank account for a non-resident if you meet all the requirements. Make sure you contact the bank of your choice to know all the details.