How to Open an Account with a Swiss Bank
Exploring bank account opening in Switzerland procedures, evolving due to global policies. Banking secrecy’s decline benefits law-abiding individuals; criminals and scammers just can’t exploit Swiss banks anymore.
Things change and the Swiss banking sector has been stripped of one of its advantages due to the implementation of global policies. All countries have to fight the threat of terrorist attacks and this makes secrecy of financial operations an outdated concept. A secret financial operation can serve financing terrorists. No one in their right mind would claim that sacrificing human lives for the sake of banking privacy is a proper thing to do. Thus, the banking information is not confidential in Switzerland any longer. But who may regret this fact? Criminals, corrupt government officials, and terrorists. They cannot use Swiss banks for their illegal purposes anymore.
As far as law-abiding entrepreneurs are concerned, their banking information is very well guarded in Switzerland. The country’s legislation still makes it a criminal offense to reveal banking information to third parties without the consent of the account holder. Government agencies have to make official requests to gain access to the information about the banking operations that a certain person conducts. Moreover, they have to demonstrate to the bank administrators that their suspicions are well grounded and that there are some weighty reasons to believe that the account holder is involved in money laundering schemes or some other financial crimes.
Thus, your banking privacy is still efficiently protected in Switzerland if you abide by the law. The highest level of reliability and an impressive variety and high quality of services are two more important advantages that Swiss banks boast. It is true that some Swiss bank account holders withdraw their money but many other people set up new accounts with Swiss banks. The popularity of Swiss banks remains stable and if you are considering the opportunity to open a bank account in Switzerland, you are thinking in the right direction. Below we discuss some aspects associated with opening a private account in a Swiss bank.
We will consider the following two situations:
- You have relocated to Switzerland and you want to open an account with a local bank to pay your regular bills, to accumulate your capital or to invest;
- You want to make a deposit in a Swiss bank while living in another country.
How can the task be solved in each of these situations? What documents would you have to submit? What banks will be prepared to provide services to you? Please read on to find out the answers to these questions.
The banking system in Switzerland is one of the most secure such systems in the world. It works under the supervision of FINMA, a state financial monitoring agency. Switzerland was reluctant to start exchanging banking information with other countries for a long time. This fact made it rather difficult for non-residents of Switzerland to set up bank accounts in the country.
However, since 2014, Switzerland has joined the AEOI (automatic exchange of information) group of countries that exchange their foreign bank customers’ information with the fiscal bodies of their home countries. We would like to make a special note of the following circumstance: banks do not automatically exchange the financial information of their domestic customers: it remains within the country. Even though the fiscal authorities in your home country are going to know about your Swiss bank account, you can still open it if you are a citizen and a resident of another country.
How can a Swiss resident open a bank account?
If you have already moved to Switzerland, you will become a tax resident of the country after 184 days of living there. Then you can open one of the following accounts in a Swiss bank::
- A current account for everyday needs;
- A joint account with your partner;
- A savings and an investment account для for accumulating and growing your wealth.
You will have to meet the following requirements to be able to open an account in a Swiss bank as a resident of Switzerland:
- You have to hold a valid ЕС/ЕАСТ passport or residence card;
- You have to be above 18 years of age;
- You have to be able to confirm your residential address (in Switzerland or outside). Recent utility bills (less than three months old) will usually serve this purpose well enough;
- Sometimes a work permit or a letter from your employer in Switzerland will be required. You may also have to bring a letter stating the amount of your monthly/ yearly income.
How can a non-resident open a bank account in Switzerland for capital management and investment purposes?
If you would like to open a bank account in Swiss francs, you should be aware that some international banking institutions such as HSBC, Barclays or NCA, for example, will be prepared to open Swiss franc accounts for you. If you would like to obtain financial services from no other bank but a Swiss one, you should be aware that such large Swiss banks as UBS и Credit Suisse, for instance, do take foreign clients onboard. The same holds for several smaller private banks in Switzerland. The private banks normally specialize in providing investment services to customers.
If you are to become a client of a Swiss bank, you will be well advised to have at least one million Swiss francs at your disposal. In addition to that, you will have to prove the legality of your sources of income and bring a clean police record in all cases.
How can a non-resident open a bank account in Switzerland for everyday purposes?
Let us suppose that you have relocated to Switzerland and you have a Residence Card but you have not yet acquired tax residency in the country. You do not intend to make investments thus far but you have to buy food, pay the rent, and cover other bills on a daily basis. If this is the case, an electronic bank such as N26, for example, can be a viable solution. You can open a Swiss franc account with N26 and easily manage your finances while you are in Switzerland.
Another option that you can consider is setting up an account with another e-bank called Revolut. As is the case with N26, Revolut will open a Swiss bank account for you. Besides, you can freely use your Revolut account outside Switzerland. All you have to submit to open an account with an electronic bank is your Residence Card, proof of address in Switzerland, and a selfie.