Opening a Bank Account in Switzerland for Expats

April 25 , 2021 by: Victoria Anderson

Switzerland is traditionally one of the biggest players globally in the banking industry, and many Swiss banks come with a certain level of prestige. With that, you may think that it could be difficult to open a bank in Switzerland as an Expat. However, the process of opening a Swiss bank account is potentially easier than you may expect.

Swiss banks actually take pride in the ease of opening a bank account in their country. On top of this, Swiss bank accounts are much more private than other countries, as it is in fact illegal for a bank to distribute any names or details of their account holders. Therefore, if discretion is what you are looking for, Switzerland may be the place to be.

You will need to bring the usual documentation to the bank when you open your account, such as your ID, your Swiss Residency and Proof of Employment. But other than that, the process is kept very simple. There is generally no minimum deposit required when opening an account either.

If you cannot visit the branch in person as you are not yet a Swiss resident, it is still possible to open an account from abroad. Certified copies of your verification documents are required to be sent via post, which obviously means a longer setup process. There are however some banks in Switzerland who will allow you to verify your identity via a video call and then allow you to sign all documentation digitally, but it is worth clarifying with your chosen bank as to whether this option is available with them.

Something unique to Switzerland is that if you wish to apply for a credit card in Switzerland, a security deposit is required. It is generally seen that credit cards are less accepted in Switzerland compared to around the world. People are still somewhat sceptical about credit cards as a method of payment, and cash still plays a big role in your regular purchases in Switzerland.

The largest Swiss national banks to consider are:

The right bank for you is going to depend significantly upon your personal circumstances, so it is worth comparing the big banks as well as some of the smaller options. Look at what each bank offers, as well as what services may suit your requirements the most. For example, if you need to make a lot of international payments or transfers, you want a bank account which will make this a low cost and simple exercise.

Many Swiss banks do offer Expat-friendly accounts, however, not all banks offer the same services, so it is always recommended to compare so that you can see which option suits you the most.

As is often the case globally, mobile banking is growing in popularity, which is also an option. Although, as Switzerland is very focussed on cash, it can make accessing your cash somewhat more difficult than a regular bank with ATM access.


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