How to open a Swiss bank account

How to open a Swiss bank account

3rd August 2011, Comments10 comments

How to open and close a Swiss bank account, plus information on confidentiality and security deposits in Switzerland's banking system.

The Swiss banking system

A prosperous and economically advanced nation, Switzerland's gross domestic product (GDP) is among the world's largest per capita. There are nearly 400 banks in Switzerland, ranging from UBS and Credit Suisse to smaller banks serving single communities or selective clients. Considered the world's largest offshore financial centre, the Swiss banking sector is known for its privacy, stability and protection of customer information and assets. The Federal Banking Commission (FBC) regulates these banks.

Opening a Swiss account

Opening an account can be difficult or impossible for non-residents of Switzerland. Foreigners officially residing in Switzerland, however, can open bank accounts easily. Banks require personal information (such as name, address, date of birth, profession and contact information), identification, a passport-sized photograph, and financial documents which vary depending on the client’s profession. The origin of the funds will also be checked.

US citizens are required to sign a document agreeing to notify the IRS of all transfers over a certain amount. As Swiss bank accounts for US citizens require additional administrative work, many banks prefer to open these accounts only when large sums of money are involved.

Swiss banking transactions can be done via correspondence as long as the customers follow bank rules and regulations. The bank and customer could interact through the internet, telephone or postal mail.

Non-residents are expected to pay a large security deposit. To keep their account privacy intact, US citizens are expected to avoid making business transactions through their Swiss accounts.

Security deposit

A security deposit is needed if the customer wants to obtain a credit card. Approximately 1.5 to 2 times the monthly credit limit is required, depending on the bank the customer chooses. This deposit is returned when the customer discontinues the credit card and has paid all outstanding bills.


To preserve the customer’s anonymity, some high-security bank accounts are given pseudonyms. This number or name is used wherever the customer is referred. Failure to respect the customer's privacy could lead to imprisonment for bank employees.

However, there is no secrecy from tax authorities or the justice department. To prevent money laundering, Swiss banks cross-check the authenticity of information provided by the customer. Any transfer over CHF 25,000 will be checked. If, during the inspection, the bank finds a potential or existing customer connected to criminal activity, a Swiss judge or prosecutor allows an investigation. This can include an inquiry into tax fraud, insider trading or terrorist financing.

Closing a Swiss bank account

Closing an account is easier than many might expect. No financial penalty is demanded, and neither is the money retained, unless a maximum amount has been agreed upon.

Expatica / Updated in cooperation with Mrs Shawna Games

Mrs Shawna Games, Highfield Financial Management, +41 (0) 61 225 2777
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10 Comments To This Article

  • Basel expat posted:

    on 20th October 2011, 00:09:00 - Reply

    Avoid anyone from Highfield Financial Management like the plague. all they do is recommend you over priced products that you will loose a lot of money on. How they get their names into so many supposedly reputable places is beyond me...but then again, DEVERE have an office in Knightsbride dont they? Anyway, avoid they cowboys at all costs. just ask anyone in Basle Pickwicks if you don't believe me.
  • BanksIndia

    on 9th December 2011, 11:07:18 - Reply

    This is useful information about The Swiss bank account opening and closing...
  • Ziaur Rahman posted:

    on 23rd June 2013, 03:18:18 - Reply

    My favourite banking is Swiss bank
  • Mike posted:

    on 2nd July 2013, 18:14:25 - Reply

    I used to live in Switzerland. I recommend you do not open a Swiss bank account. The Swiss find any excuse to fine you without fair warning. Haven't updated your details on time? Fine - and then another fine...
  • Muki posted:

    on 15th August 2013, 22:27:27 - Reply


    Thanks very much Mike,yes i could belive they can fine people easy.Your advice its worth a gold .I will pay you a drink for thanks : ) that you live any closer to UK.All the best...
  • Parthiban.r posted:

    on 22nd November 2013, 13:49:55 - Reply

    Super explain for swiess bank..
  • SamZIceMan posted:

    on 29th November 2013, 12:38:47 - Reply

    It is best to avoid banking in a Swiss bank for many reasons if you only have limited funds. Most of your funds will be fined, but when you have 8 figures account or more you will be relaxed with them.
    Advise: always be alert and keep up your account in Switzerland.
  • Tahir Iqbal posted:

    on 14th February 2014, 07:01:56 - Reply

    [Edited by moderator. Please direct expert questions to our 'Ask the Expert' service]
  • Jane Hammersmith posted:

    on 17th May 2014, 03:20:43 - Reply

    Reputed Swiss banks are transparent regarding fees and fines applied if the customer takes the effort to read the information that comes with an account. I never had any issues, except for my own mistakes, and if I was not clear on any charge I could go and get clarification. They might not be the cheapest what fees concerns but of the most trustworthy and relibale ones anyway.
  • Ylber posted:

    on 14th May 2015, 14:49:11 - Reply


    Hi I wuold to open a bank acount swiss bank if can help me please I need more information thanks.

    [Moderator's note: Please post questions on our Ask the Expert service]