Swiss banks are widely known around the world alongside their delicious meals, beautiful places and quality watches.
The fame of Swiss banks mostly comes from investment banking and accounts holding millions and if the fact of living in Switzerland has ignited an interest in you or you desire to open a Swiss bank account, then you have to be aware of how their banks works over there.
There exist numerous reasons why Swiss banks are widely known around the world. They have reputation for providing anonymity, safety and have earned the tax haven name.
Switzerland banks have long has long served for providing top secret accounts but today they do no longer operate like that even though there still exist some Swiss banks that still carry out such transactions. But now, they are more cautious and much more regulated when it comes to non Swiss bank accounts.
Nowadays, Switzerland has a law even though it was first as an agreement between the Switzerland and the U.S- this law makes tax evasion highly improbable and it is called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which requires the country the country to provide about U.S accounts in Switzerland.
Banking System in Switzerland
Switzerland is a prosperous and economically advanced country, with one of the highest GDP per capita rates in the world. It is also the largest offshore financial center in the world, with a reputation for confidentiality, stability, and asset protection.
National and cantonal banks provide day-to-day banking services in Switzerland. UBS, Credit Suisse, Raiffeisen, and Swiss Post are examples of national banks.
Cantonal banks are only available to residents of that canton. The vast majority of cantons have their own banks; however, if you move to a different canton, you must usually transfer your account.
Private banks and investment banks provide additional banking services in Switzerland, but these are typically reserved for individuals with significant wealth.
The Financial Market Supervisory Authority regulates banks in Switzerland (FINMA).
Types of Bank Accounts in Switzerland
Just like every other nation, there are several types of bank account in Switzerland and each bank account serve for a specific purpose. So depending on what you want to do with the bank account,, you can select from the options below.
Current Bank Accounts
This is actually the simplest type of bank account that you can open in a Swiss bank and with this bank account, you can receive your salary, save money and even invest. More to that you can also withdraw cash in both Swiss francs and Euros.
It is of no doubt that current accounts usually require a monthly fee and that of the Swiss banks makes o exception as it requires monthly fee that varies from CHF 5 per month and up to CHF 15 per month for premium accounts.
Also, aside from this monthly fee that you have to pay, if you withdraw cash from ATMs that is manage by other banks, you may be required to pay additional processing fees.
Joint Bank Account
As the name implies joint accounts can be used by 2 parties with both having full access to any funds. Most often joint accounts are held in the proportion of 50:50 between the 2 parties but both named holders of the account can still decide and agree to own it in different proportions.
Savings and Investment Accounts
If you are a worker and is looking to save up some money during your stay in Switzerland, or you are a business man that is aspiring to invest, then its sure that Saving and investment accounts are the best choice for you.
Even though they sound similar, saving and investing are 2 different concepts as saving accounts allow you to save your money for long periods and eventually earn a lower return but with no risk. In the other hand, investing allows you to make higher in return but also the risk of you loosing your funds is high.
Numbered Swiss Bank Accounts
Numbered accounts are high security accounts that some Swiss banks offer to customers especially to those with huge money transactions, so that the account holder has an additional layer of privacy as compared to the others.
As the quality and security of the account is very high, this also comes with high fees that can go up to CHF 2,000 per year and for these types of accounts, banks are allowed to ban international payments as well as monitor large payments for money laundering purposes.
Swiss Bank Account Advantages
With Swiss banks, you are going to enjoy the best benefits and quality services that a bank can offer. With Swiss banks, you will be served with economic security, confidentiality, and asset protection.
Put aside the fact that Swiss banks are the most capitalized and safest banks, they offer accounts in all major currencies and they include low levels of financial risk as the Swiss economy is known for its stability and neutrality when it comes to conflicts.
The listed advantages above therefore makes Swiss banks the most economically stable and secure place where you can think of keeping your money without any doubt or second thought of having to loose part of your funds.
Opening a Swiss bank account may appear to be tricky at first but once you have an idea of the vital requirements, this is going to greatly ease your process.
How to Open a Swiss Bank Account for Non Resident or Foreigners?
In case you are looking forward to move to Switzerland or just someone that is interested in opening a bank account in Switzerland, you may surely want to target the account issue directly but no matter from where you are trying to open an account, here are some challenges that you might encounter.
As compared to many other countries, there are not a lot of limitations for a non foreigner to open a bank account in Switzerland but there is a law in Switzerland that allows only non residents of at least 18 years old to open a bank account in Switzerland.
It is of no doubt that due to quality services offered by Swiss banks, opening a Swiss bank account is challenging for non residents that are trying to open a Swiss bank account especially from overseas where they will not seem to find every day services of Swiss banks in other countries.
So if you are a non resident and will like to open a Swiss bank account, you will first of al have to contact Swiss bank and request an application package - which to a resident is the equivalent of walking into a bank account.
Then once you have already completed this step, you will be provided with an account manager to guide you through the process and what you have to do next.
What do I Need to Open a Swiss Bank Account
Regardless of the fact whether you are in Switzerland or abroad, there are some basic requirements that you will have to meet before being able to open a bank account in Switzerland.
These include your documentation and eligibility, so you will have to get ready for a lot of paper work and many others depending on the bank you select.
Similar to many other banks around the world, Swiss banks often require a certain amount of paperwork and documentation that will serve as verification of your identity and sources of income with the main aim of separating them from an illegal activity that the client may have in their portfolio.
So if you planning to open a bank account in Switzerland no matter where you are, then below are the essential documentations that will be needed from you.
- A valid passport
- Confirmation of the address that you listed
- Verification of the origin of income
Here are the basic documents that you will need but if you want to open a Swiss account from abroad, you will need to get your documents authorized and you can do this by getting notarized copies or an Apostille stamp, or better still you can visit either a local branch of Swiss account or the correspondent bank that they have selected for you.
No matter how mighty and fit you might be on paper, there are some countries that Switzerland will not do business with either due to Embargo Act or some other political exclusions that therefore automatically loses your eligibility.
Aside from the issue above, you can still be estimated as " politically exposed" and that simply means that they think you as sketchy or you have public scandals behind you. So you will have to ensure that you do not fall in any of this issues so as to be eligible to open a Swiss bank account.
Swiss bank minimum balance
Well this is also among the requirements to open a bank account in Switzerland as once you have opened an account, you have to make a minimum deposit so as to activate your account and this minimum deposit ranges from free to million of dollars.
In general, Swiss banks may require you to deposit at least 10,000CHF or $9000 within a month of opening your account but this may vary depending on the bank that you have chosen.
Like for example the UBS Group requires a minimum balance of up to 5,000,000 USD whereas Raiffeisen Switzerland Bank requires no minimum balance.
How to Open a Swiss Bank Account for your Children?
For those that are already having children and are looking forward to begin planning for their future, then think of Swiss banks too as they allow you to open savings accounts for your Children's future.
These types of bank accounts often bears the children's name but their parents can administer them until the reach the legal age. This saving accounts are often paid with various amount of interest depending on the money that you save.
Aside from Children saving's accounts, Swiss banks are also known for offering gift saving accounts and this types of account can also be opened by other family members such as grand parents, etc.
You can invest your savings in a fund in a gift saving account, and if the fund performs well, you can earn a large return on cash. However, if the fund does not perform well, you may lose money.
When choosing a bank for your children's account, look for one that offers the most services, such as cross-border transfers, cash advances, and loan applications.
Best Banks in Switzerland
Now that you already know much about the banking system in Switzerland, alongside the various types of bank accounts that you can open, let us now take a look at the best banks in Switzerland where you can decide to open an account there.
There are several banks in Switzerland that provides quality banking services, so choosing the right bank for you is an important step that will also help save you time and cut the chances of you having to go through various banks.
In this article I will narrow your options by providing you with these best options for you to choose. The option that you have is to open an account at Cantonal banks, Private banks and the 2 big Swiss banks ( UBS Group AG and Credit Suisse Group AG). All these banks their different requirements and way that they operate.
If you are opening an account in one of the 2 major banks, you will not have to worry about moving and not being able to access your bank account because the 2 major banks operate throughout the whole country and have headquarters in any international cities.
Cantonal Banks are based in cantons and do not deal with people from other cantons. So, if you travel frequently and from one canton to another, they will ask you to switch banks. Furthermore, if you leave Switzerland, they will request that you close your account completely.
The Swiss National bank is another bank but you cannot open an individual account here because, the role of this bank is supply the Swiss economy with Swiss banknotes and is in charge of coin distribution.
National Swiss Retail Bank
As the name implies, national Swiss retail banks typically have branches across the territory and they are often open from Monday to Friday around 8am to 7pm offering walk in services that allows clients to be able to make withdrawals and deposits, make enquiries, and make appointments with your advisors.
These banks are often known for having multilingual staff but there is no guarantee that the staff speaks English.
Below are some of the most popular Swiss retail banks
- Credit Suisse
- Migros Bank AG
Swiss Cantonal Banks
Swiss Cantonal Banks are often belong to the Government and they also offer closely related services to that of Retail banks but traditionally, they are specialized in providing savings and mortgage products.
These banks tend to provide accounts only to the residents of the Swiss Canton that they provide in which means that non residents cannot open such an account. Below are some of the most popular Cantonal Banks in Switzerland;
- Urner Kantonalbank
- Luzerner Kantonalbank
- Aargauische Kantonalbank
- Banque Cantonale du Valais
- Banque Cantonal de Geneve
- Appezeller Kantonalbank
Regional Savings Banks
As the name implies, these banks are based in providing services in specific geographical locations even though they are similar to cantonal banks and they often offer more limited services such as saving accounts and mortgages.
Swiss Investment Banks
The Swiss bank sector is made up of numerous investment banks and some of them only allow wealthy customers who are ready to invest huge amounts of money in order to open their investment accounts. These services can also be provided be many retail banks.
The main difference that you will notice between Swiss investment banks and the others is that they exclusively cater towards investment activities. Some of the most prominent banks in Switzerland are
- Julius Bar Group
- Bank j. Safra Sarasin
- EFG International
These banks are closely related to Swiss Retail banks in their services and their availability. Here, there are high chances that you will find an English speaking staff but you can mostly find them in big cities such as Zurich and Geneva.
Below is a list if the most popular international banks in Cameroon.
- Banco Santander ( Spain )
- HSBC (United Kingdom)
- Deutche Bank ( Germany)
- Barclays Bank ( United Kingdom )
- Citibank ( United States)
- BNP Paribas ( France)
Final Thoughts on How to Open a Swiss Bank Account
Switzerland is among the most developed and well known countries in Europe and in the World. This nation is also popular due to the quality banking services that it offers so if you are looking forward to opening a bank account in Switzerland, then this article is a great guide to you and I hope that going through this was of help to you.
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Open a Swiss Bank Account
Can Americans Open a Swiss Bank Account?
Yes. A Swiss bank account can be opened by any adult U.S. citizen. However, you will not be able to do so anonymously. Despite the fact that accounts in Switzerland are tax-free, American nationals are required to notify their Swiss bank accounts to the Internal Revenue Service. Switzerland is famed for its banks, in addition to its excellent transportation system, high quality of life, and vibrant culture. Swiss banks are still one of, if not the safest, places to keep your money today. So, whatever your reason for wanting to open a Swiss bank account, we hope this article has made the process easier for you. In Switzerland, good luck with your banking!.
Can Swiss Bank Accounts be Traced?
Hardly. Due to the strong financial secrecy requirements in Switzerland, tracing bank accounts is difficult. According to the legislation, banks are prohibited from disclosing their clients' banking information because doing so is illegal.
How much money do I need to open a Swiss bank account?
Minimum Deposit: The minimum deposit to open a Swiss bank account is typically $1 million or the equivalent in another currency. If that amount is out of a client's range, there are many excellent offshore banking options with minimum deposits as low as $1000 or less.