Switzerland is one of the world’s most developed countries with well-established banking facilities and services available.
The country is widely known for its best private, secure and stable banking in the world. All banks in the country are legally bound to keep clients’ information private and secret. Secrecy guidelines are defined and laid out in the country’s constitution and strongly enforced in the country. No federal government, lender or agency can access a client’s bank account.
Majority of the banks in Switzerland are foreigner-friendly and it is convenient to open and run a bank account. The services offered are practically the same though in some instances the foreigners have to pay additional charges.
Foreigners going to stay in the country are urged to open a bank account before they go as one may find it difficult to open a bank without an address while it is also hard to find housing without a bank account.
The best banks that allow unrestricted bank account opening are Credit Suisse and UBS. These banks allow foreigners to open bank accounts provided they have a valid Swiss residence permit or evidence of employment in Switzerland.
The best hassle-free bank is the postal bank, PostFinance. All individuals with identification papers are able to open a bank account, regardless of their length of stay in the country.
Steps to opening an account
Different banks and accounts have different processes, procedures, and requirements.
What is common is that any foreigner who is over 18 years old is allowed to have a bank account. While usually, it is necessary to open a bank account in person, most Swiss banks allow for the opening of bank accounts by using an appointee or remotely by mail or fax.
The banks require Valid Passport Verification of Address Documents to prove economic background Documents to prove the economic origin of money being deposited Identification of any beneficiaries of the account. You must go in person or have a financial service company open it for you.
A copy of a valid ID card is required and contact information. Due to Swiss anti-money-laundering laws, those opening investment bank accounts or personal bank account with there are certified documents needed in order to open an account.
These documents include tax returns, company documents, and professional licenses, and proof of where the money you are depositing originates from. Citizens of some countries are barred from opening Swiss bank accounts. This is due to some reasons, such as official embargoes and other political reasons.
Some banks like UBS considers an application before beginning client relationship.
Types of accounts
There are a lot of types of bank accounts that can be opened in Switzerland.
- Personal account
This is an account set up for individuals to keep and manage their own funds. It can be used for salary and pension incomes and not for business expenses.
- Current Account
This is the bank account for those customers who make a high number of bank transactions. It is suitable for business people who receive and make payments on a regular basis.
- Investment account
This is an account held at a bank containing a deposit of funds or securities purposely for long-term investment for capital growth, preservation or fixed income from the deposited asset portfolio.
- Savings account
It is a low interest earning deposit account held at a bank. It has a limited number and value that a customer can withdrawal in a month or year They encourage saving and do not have cheques drawn against them.
- Time deposit account
This is a deposit at a bank that earns interest for a fixed period of time up to the maturity date. If the customer wishes to withdraw the funds before the maturity of the fixed period, he can do so by giving notice which is usually 30 days.
How people get access to their funds
Most banks have branches within Switzerland and a customer can access their funds by over the counter in these branches.
Also, the banks give out chequebooks, credit cards and debit cards which are accepted in most places for most of the accounts like personal and current accounts.
With the advancement in technology, mobile digital banking app has been developed for all banks which enables the customers to have access to their funds on their phones.
Also in major banks like Credit Suisse, UBS, Swiss Raiffeisen, Zurich Cantonal Bank internet (online) banking is available
Security is guaranteed even when the customer is using online banking and digital app to conduct transactions.
Opening a bank account in Switzerland might be a bit harder than other countries, but compared to the advantages derived from having a bank account in the country, it is worth it.