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Open a bank account in Switzerland - Tested by Monito

A Comprehensive Guide to Opening a Swiss Bank Account (Even For Non-Residents Online)

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com

Byron Mühlberg

Guide

Jan Watermann

Reviewer

May 23, 2023
Advertiser disclosure

Renowned the world over for its stability, confidentiality, and trust in safeguarding assets, the Swiss banking system has earned a legendary reputation in many people's minds today.

Although these stereotypes have a grain of truth, Swiss banks today are significantly more transparent than they used to be, and their seizure-proof and anonymous status is essentially no longer true. In fact, most non-residents seeking to open a bank account in Switzerland today are cross-border commuters simply interested in receiving a salary from their Swiss employer rather than shady tycoons trying to hide their money from their home country's tax authorities.

In this article, we'll start by dispelling many common misconceptions about Swiss banking. Next, we'll introduce you to your options when opening a bank account in Switzerland, regardless of whether you have a residence permit.

recommendation icon

Here are our recommendations if you're from...

  • Switzerland or a neighbouring country: Yuh from PostFinance and Swissquote gives you a complete CHF IBAN bank account (including eBill payments), multi-currency balances, and a savvy stock and crypto trading platform.
  • neither Switzerland nor a neighbour: Revolut gives you a top-notch multi-currency account (including CHF, EUR, and USD) and a debit card.

Many non-Swiss residents find opening a bank account in Switzerland particularly tricky because most Swiss banks require you to be a Swiss citizen, permanent resident, or at least a cross-border commuter to approve your application.

All told, there are three main paths to open a bank account online in Switzerland, and the best Swiss bank account will depend heavily on your needs and preferences. These paths are as follows:

  1. Traditional Swiss banks: This path requires proof of Swiss residence and is only open to non-residents who make significant investments or work in Switzerland but live in a neighbouring country. It's best for those who want extensive banking services and don't mind the fees.
  2. Swiss neobanks: Here, you at least need to live in an EU country neighbouring Switzerland. It's the best path if you want low-cost, digital banking services and don't mind slightly less banking coverage.
  3. Multi-currency accounts: This path allows you to hold CHF as an online balance without any bank account. This path is available in many countries globally.

We explore each of these paths in detail below:

Key Facts About Swiss Banking

🏦 No. of Swiss banks

240+

👨‍⚖️ Regulatory body

FINMA

🏆 Best bank for residents
💸 Best money transfer

It varies. Compare now.

💻 Best account for non-residents
💷 Average running costs
  • Neobanks: CHF 3 /month
  • Big banks: CHF 20 /month

How To Open a Bank Account in Switzerland

Despite no longer allowing you to stash away your fortunes anonymously, Swiss banks offer many distinct advantages for non-residents in the country.

For wealthier individuals, for example, Swiss bank accounts are often perceived as attractive because they are credited in Swiss francs (CHF), a "safe haven" currency that has historically proven to be comparatively stable during times of global economic distress.

Swiss bank accounts are also an attractive deal for the nearly 350 thousand EU citizens working in Switzerland while living just across the border. Because all salaries in Switzerland are paid in Swiss francs, and because Swiss employers practically only pay their workers into Swiss bank accounts, opening an account in the country is often easy for cross-border workers. Not only is it easy, but it's also helpful, as cross-border workers can avoid high currency conversion fees when being paid while also largely dodging exchange rate risk.

For more context, look at the real-time EUR/CHF exchange rate here.

Reasons to Open a Swiss Bank Account

If you're a non-resident looking to move to Switzerland permanently, we recommend that you take a look at our in-depth insider's guide. You'll likely have various options depending on what you'd like to achieve by opening a Swiss bank account. Take a look at the main categories below:

1. Everyday Use

Ordinary Swiss bank accounts are usually associated with high fees for non-residents in Switzerland. However, the process tends to be very simple for residents, although non-residents may face more limitations.

As a non-resident, you'll have the option of opening a standard bank account at PostFinance and several other Swiss banks relatively easily, with the required documents, account management fees, and minimum deposits varying from bank to bank. To open a Swiss bank account for everyday use, you'll generally need the following:

  • A valid EU/EFTA passport or government-issued ID;
  • To be at least 18 years of age;
  • Proof of residence inside or outside of Switzerland;
  • Often, a G permit for cross-border workers and proof of employment is required.

If you're moving to Switzerland and are interested in digital solutions and low fees, we recommend Neon (a free Swiss bank account) as the ideal solution. While Neon is not currently available to all foreign nationalities living in Switzerland, it does provide an extensive and easy option, as once you've got your Swiss residence permit, you'll be able to open a Neon account online in only a few minutes.

2. Investments & Wealth Management

If you're interested in Swiss bank accounts for asset protection, your chief option should be to consider opening a foreign currency account in Swiss francs, either with a foreign bank or with a Swiss bank.

Major global banks such as HSBC, Barclays, and NCA offer currency accounts in Swiss francs to clients in their respective countries. Big-name Swiss banks such as UBS and Credit Suisse offer wealth management and investment accounts in Swiss francs to international clients and smaller private banks aimed at investment services. In general, you'll require the following:

  • A valid passport or government-issued ID.
  • To be at least 18 years of age.
  • A minimum initial deposit of USD 250,000 to USD 1,000,000.

3. Spending Swiss Francs

If you're not looking to hedge as an investment but to hold Swiss francs for spending purposes, a Wise Account will probably give you all the versatility you want.

With this flexible and extensive multi-currency account, you can manage and hold Swiss francs and 40 other currencies for spending worldwide. Moreover, you'll be able to take advantage of exchange rates significantly better than those banks offer! Another option to consider would be Revolut. Similarly to a Wise Account, with Revolut, you can exchange and hold Swiss francs free of charge while living abroad. This option is usually much more accessible, requiring only the following:

  • A valid passport or government-issued ID;
  • Proof of residence outside of Switzerland.

Myths About Swiss Banking

Underpinning Switzerland's reputation as a haven for questionable banking practices is the fact that, up until only a few years ago, "numbered accounts" were available to individual clients from major Swiss banks. This meant a client could own a bank account almost entirely anonymously, as only a number would be used to identify a bank account holder.

Since 2014, however, Switzerland has been part of the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI). This international agreement requires local banks to hand the data of all foreign bank account holders over to relevant tax authorities abroad. (This being said, the AEOI doesn't apply to Swiss nationals, and numbered accounts are still offered to Swiss clients by several banks).

In addition to being no longer anonymous, Swiss bank accounts are no longer seizure-proof, meaning that criminal activity can be much more easily apprehended in these accounts.

All in all, the changes made in recent years to the Swiss banking system are good news for most non-residents looking to open a bank account in the country. This is because Swiss banks are much more accessible to non-residents, with the notable exception of US citizens.

A Note For US Citizens

If you're a US citizen, you'll face additional hurdles when opening a bank account in Switzerland, regardless of whether or not you have a residence permit in the country.

Following the adoption of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA), US citizens in Switzerland are subject to more rigorous regulation in the way of the Internal Revenue Service than they had been previously. As a result, many Swiss banks — while still theoretically offering bank accounts to American customers — will require US citizens to complete extra paperwork and onerous financial disclosures to get the job done.

As a result, if you're a US citizen looking to open a bank account in Switzerland, we'd recommend that you stick to the major Swiss banks operating from large Swiss cities, such as Zurich, Geneva, and Basel when opening an account, as these organisations will likely be better suited to accommodate you.

Path 1: Traditional Swiss Banks

Martin Abegglen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In principle, every major Swiss bank offers bank accounts to non-residents in Switzerland and cross-border commuters. However, some banks obscure their services to the point where the process and the relevant pricing for non-residents are complicated and unclear.

It should also be noted that to open a standard bank account in Switzerland as a non-resident, you will, in most cases, need to travel to Switzerland to make your scheduled appointment with your chosen bank.

Take a look at the list of Swiss banks below that we've found offer clear pricing information for non-residents in Switzerland:

PostFinance

With PostFinance, customers residing abroad can open a bank account relatively quickly, with only an identification document, permanent address, and tax details required. You can hold bank accounts in either Euro or Swiss francs. Here's how to apply:

  1. Register on the PostFinance website, where you'll be asked for your nationality and address.
  2. Wait for the bank to contact you either by telephone or by post. (If you live in Switzerland, you can identify yourself via video chat and skip the following step).
  3. Visit a Swiss post office or a PostFinance branch and complete the account application. You'll likely have to explain your interest in opening a Swiss bank account during the interview. However, you can usually open an account quickly if you have a valid reason.

PostFinance offers various accounts. The standard "Private account in CHF" will cost CHF 5 per month for deposits of CHF 25,000 or less. Be aware that ATM withdrawals cost CHF 2 in Switzerland and at least CHF 5 when abroad. To withdraw money free of charge, you must apply for the "Private Account Plus", linked to account management fees of CHF 12 per month.

In addition, a special fee for people residing abroad is CHF 25 per month. This way, an account with PostFinance will cost you between CHF 30 and CHF 37 per month, with the annual fees coming to between CHF 360 and CHF 444.

Migros Bank

Migros Bank (available in German, French, and Italian) is the banking arm of the Swiss retail giant Migros. Non-residents in Switzerland can open a bank account at Migros Bank, where, in principle, there is no minimum deposit required for EU citizens. (People from non-EU countries can expect to pay a minimum deposit in the six-digit range). To open an account, you'll need to do the following:

  • Contact the Migros Bank customer service by phone at +41 848 845 452 (Mon-Fri 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM Swiss time) to make an appointment to open an account at a bank branch;
  • Visit a Migros Bank branch with your ID, proof of residence, and tax details. (If you already have a residence permit in Switzerland, you can apply for an account here).

Migros Bank offers private individuals three different account models: a foreign currency account, a premium account, and a basic account. The premium account has a minimum deposit of CHF 250,000 and is managed free of charge. The basic account has no minimum deposit and costs 3 CHF per month.

Be mindful that there may also be additional fees for foreign residents, which Migros Bank does not make transparent on its website. However, we have learned from various sources that the account management fee for people from the EU/EFTA is between CHF 5 and CHF 10 per month.

UBS

With UBS Switzerland, non-Swiss residents living in neighbouring countries can quickly open a private account. Here, too, you'll be able to keep all accounts in either Euros or Swiss francs, with UBS offering foreign currency accounts in several foreign currencies. Moreover, cross-border commuters and customers from Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France and Italy also have access to a personal account model denominated in CHF and EUR. To open an account with UBS, you'll need to do the following:

  • Schedule an appointment online at a nearby UBS branch;
  • Visit the branch for your appointment and all necessary documentation, including your residence permit, tax details, and a valid ID. (If you already have a Swiss residence permit, you can submit your account application online here).

The costs of the bank account at UBS differ depending on the requirements. We recommend the package above for cross-border commuters living in a neighbouring country, as this option will only cost you around CHF 10 per month. A UBS credit card in Euro and an optional UBS credit card are also included in Swiss francs.

Combined, the banking package for cross-border commuters will come to around CHF 120 per year.

Valiant

Valiant (available in German and French) is a smaller local bank that makes opening an account relatively straightforward for non-residents outside of Switzerland. To open an account with Valiant, you'll need to do the following:

  • Locate a local Valiant branch online;
  • Schedule an appointment by explaining to the bank advisor that you live abroad and wish to open a Swiss bank account. Be sure to request which documents you'd be required to bring along to the appointment;
  • Attend your appointment in Switzerland to open a bank account. If you're still in Switzerland a few days after the appointment, you could consider collecting the access documents at the local branch before returning home. Alternatively, Valiant will mail them to you at your home.

Valiant imposes a relatively high surcharge for those outside Switzerland, as much as CHF 40 per month (CHF 480 per year). In addition to these costs, there are account management fees of around CHF 4 per month on the basic account. If you'd like to apply for a credit card in addition to your account, this will cost you at least CHF 100 (for a World MasterCard Silver/Visa Classic) per year, with a debit card coming in at around 50 CHF per year.

The total costs for the basic account at Valiant with a debit card come to around 48.20 CHF per month (578 CHF per year)!

Aargau Cantonal Bank (AKB)

Another option for non-Swiss residents when opening a bank account in Switzerland is the Aargau Cantonal Bank (available in German), a bank run by the cantonal government of Aargau.

When opening a bank account with AKB, non-residents will not have to deposit a minimum amount, with the bank fees being graded on a country-by-country basis according to risk. For example, people who live in a country with a high score on the Corruption Perception Index will tend to pay more in fees than those who live in one of Switzerland's neighbouring countries. To open an account with AKB, you'll need to do the following:

  • Schedule an appointment at a local branch on the AKB website or call them at +41 62 835 7777. You could also consider spontaneously visiting an AKB branch;
  • Attend your scheduled appointment in the Canton of Aargau to open an account. Be sure to bring along a valid passport, tax details, and proof of residence abroad.

Before your appointment, make sure you know which type of bank account you'd like to open and that you can clearly explain why you are interested in a Swiss bank account. Following this, your account will be opened within a few days, for which you can expect to receive the account details by post.

Similarly to Valiant, non-residents in Switzerland who are domiciled abroad will have to pay significantly higher fees than Swiss residents at the Aargau Cantonal Bank. Costs range between CHF 15 and CHF 60 per month, depending on the level of risk. As a cross-border commuter, you should expect your monthly fee to be between CHF 15 and CHF 20.

If you'd like a CHF debit card in addition to your account, you will have to pay an additional CHF 50 per year.

What's the Best Traditional Swiss Bank?

If you're a resident of a country bordering Switzerland and looking for the best Swiss bank account for foreigners, our recommendation would be UBS's "package for cross-border commuters". We think this banking package is very attractive all things considered, as it combines a moderate fee of CHF 10 per month with relatively extensive benefits and a free debit card.

On the other hand, if you'd like to open a Swiss bank account from a country that doesn't border Switzerland, we recommend Valiant if you value an extensive range of services and don't mind paying a bit more. Similarly, if you're looking to keep costs down while managing a Swiss account, we recommend you explore your options with PostFinance and UBS (the latter of which might also be worth considering if you wish to open a Swiss bank account strictly for investment purposes).

Take a look at the graph below to get a better sense of how the banks listed above stack up in terms of their fees:

Annual Fee

Annual Fee Waived

Location

CHF 360 - 444

N/A

Branch, post office

CHF 60 - 120

From CHF 250,000

Branch

CHF 120

From CHF 50,000

Branch

CHF 578

N/A

Branch

CHF 195 - 735

From CHF 50,000

Branch

Last updated: 30/11/2022

In the final analysis, however, almost all Swiss bank accounts are associated with high fees for foreigners and non-residents, and there's sadly no way you can dodge these costs altogether.

Path 2: Swiss Neobanks

As a non-Swiss resident, the conditions for opening a bank account are often stringent, with a six- to seven-digit minimum deposit usually required. But fortunately, there are significantly cheaper options if you live in Switzerland or a country bordering it!

Below, we go over Switzerland's two largest neobanks, Yuh and neon, offering a similar digital banking suite: a full online checking account and debit card.

Yuh

Yuh (pronounced like "you") is a Swiss neobank that Swissquote and PostFinance back. It offers a Swiss franc IBAN account (starting with 'CH') and multi-currency functionality that allows you to hold in-app balances in up to 13 other currencies, including EUR, USD, and GBP.

Yuh also comes with a built-in stock and crypto trading platform. Because it's available in Switzerland and all neighbouring EU/EEA countries, we think it's the best CHF account in Europe and an excellent way to hold a balance in the currency if that's something you find useful.

  • Account name: Yuh
  • Annual cost: CHF 0
  • Licensing: Banking services (including deposit insurance) provided by PostFinance and SwissQuote.
  • Interesting features: Full Swiss bank account (with IBAN and eBill), stock and cryptocurrency trading
  • Availability: Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein
  • More info: See our Yuh review or visit the website.

Neon

If you'd like to open a fully-fledged free Swiss bank account, neon offers a great deal if you want to keep your fees low while still receiving a local salary.

Neon runs entirely out of a mobile app and has no branches or online banking. This allows the bank (yes — Neon is a regulated and legitimate bank) to offer practically no fees on its standard account, making it an ideal service for those who only need to make use of the standard banking services such as deposit processing, withdrawals, direct debits, and card payments. Neon will, however, require proof of residence in Switzerland to open an account.

  • Plans available: neon free, neon green, neon metal
  • Monthly fee:

Account Name

Fee /Month

neon free

CHF 0.00

neon green

CHF 5.00

neon metal

CHF 15.00

  • Licensing: Banking services (including deposit insurance) provided by Hypothekarbank Lenzburg.
  • Interesting features: Full Swiss bank account (with IBAN and eBill), Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Garmin Pay, and SwatchPAY
  • Availability: Switzerland only
  • More info: See our neon review or visit the website.

If you're curious to see more about how Yuh and neon compare to one another head-to-head, then take a look at our side-by-side review to compare fees, features, and more.

Cashback Cards

Cashback Cards are credit cards issued by Swisscard that let you earn cashback on purchases from most major retailers in Switzerland. Unlike many other countries, cashback in Switzerland is typically very low, so Cashback Cards' 1% on qualifying purchases is a very good deal in the country if you're interested in accumulating cashback on your everyday purchases. (However, unlike the other cards on this list, Cashback Cards are expensive to use when travelling outside of Switzerland.)

  • Monthly fee: CHF 0
  • Cashback: Up to 1% of the total amount
  • Card type: VISA, Mastercard, American Express
  • Insurance: Return Protection (up to CHF 1,000)
  • More info: Visit the Cashback Cards website

Path 3: Multi-Currency Accounts in CHF

If you live neither in Switzerland nor a neighbouring country, your best bet is to open a multi-currency account with Swiss francs. This is especially useful if your needs and preferences only go as far as holding CHF and not a full banking experience with debits and transfers.

Like the neobanks we explored above, since almost all bank accounts in Switzerland are otherwise associated with high fees for non-residents, online multi-currency accounts offer the best way to manage CHF spending if you want to keep the costs down.

Revolut

A well-known fintech challenger in Europe, Revolut offers the option of using Swiss francs as an account currency. This allows you to make payments in Switzerland without forking additional fees.

However, because it's not yet a bank in all EU countries, we think Revolut is best used as a spending tool beside your main bank account instead of in place of it.

  • Plans available: Standard, Plus, Premium, Metal
  • Monthly fee:
  • Licensing: Banking license in many EU countries. However, Revolut offers some services and operates in countries with an E-money license. In the EU, both its banking license and e-money license are issued by the ECB and regulated by the Bank of Lithuania. More info here.
  • Availability: EU, US, UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland
  • More info: See our Revolut review or visit the website.

Wise Account

Wise is not a bank but a money transfer platform well-known for offering some of the cheapest international transfers worldwide. That said, money transfers aren't Wise's only service: they also offer the Wise Account, a low-cost foreign currency spending account and card product that's best in class on the market.

With a Wise Account, you'll obtain EU banking details that can be used for direct transfers from Switzerland. You'll also be able to convert your Swiss francs into Euros or other currencies at the mid-market rate and use a debit card that's readily accepted in many countries worldwide.

  • Plans available: No plans, just one free account
  • Monthly fee: CHF 0 (only around 0.35% charged on all FX transactions)
  • Licensing: E-money institution in the UK and Payment Institution in the EU (authorised by the National Bank of Belgium).
  • Availability: EU, UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland
  • More info: See our Wise Account review or visit their website.

Comparing Swiss Bank Alternatives

To get a better picture of how high-street Swiss banks compare to challenger banks and online-only bank-like products, take a look at how the Wise Account, Revolut, and neon compare to Valiant, one of the traditional Swiss banks listed above:

Yuh

Revolut

Wise

Valiant

Swiss IBAN

Languages

  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • 18 others
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • 12 others
  • French
  • German
  • Italian

Currencies

CHF

CHF and 27 others

CHF and 50+ others

CHF, EUR, others on request

Platforms

Mobile app

Mobile app

Mobile app, online

Mobile app, online, in-person

Opening Fee

CHF 0

CHF 0

CHF 0

CHF 0

Management Fee

CHF 0

CHF 0

CHF 0

CHF 578 /year

Card Type

Mastercard

Mastercard

Mastercard

Various

Top-up Fee

0

0

0

1% (debit Mastercard)

Currency Exchange

0.0095

  • Up to €1,000 /month
  • 0.5% thereafter

0.3% - 1%

0.0175

Withdrawal Fee

  • 1 free /week
  • CHF 1.90 thereafter
  • Free €200 /month
  • 2% thereafter
  • Free €250 /month
  • 2% thereafter

4% (min. CHF 10 or €10)

Closing Fee

CHF 0

CHF 0

CHF 0

CHF 15

Go to Yuh ❯Go to Revolut ❯Go to Wise ❯Go to Valiant

Last updated: 30/11/2022

FAQ About Opening a Bank Account Online in Switzerland

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Compare Top Online Banks in Switzerland

Filters
Sort by
  1. Wise Multi-Currency Account Monito Score 8.9
    open
    • Languages
      English +21
    • Country availability
      Austria +37
    • Services
      Multi-currency account
    • Monthly fee
      Very low
    • Card delivery time
      Mid
    • Best for
      Spending while abroad
    • Bank details
      Euro IBAN +11
    • Supported currencies
      US dollar +50
    • Overdraft
    • Annual interest rate
      Very low
    • Supports cash deposits
    • International transfers
  2. Yuh Monito Score 8.6
    open
    • Languages
      German +3
    • Country availability
      Switzerland +5
    • Services
      All-in-one finance app +1
    • Monthly fee
      Very low
    • Card delivery time
      Fast
    • Best for
      Trading stocks or cryptos
    • Bank details
      Swiss IBAN
    • Supported currencies
      Swiss franc +12
    • Overdraft
    • Annual interest rate
      Low
    • Supports cash deposits
    • International transfers
  3. Revolut Monito Score 8.6
    open
    • Languages
      English +20
    • Country availability
      Austria +35
    • Services
      All-in-one finance app
    • Monthly fee
      Very low
    • Card delivery time
      Mid
    • Best for
      Spending online +1
    • Bank details
      UK account no. & sort code +1
    • Supported currencies
      United Arab Emirates dirham +26
    • Overdraft
    • Annual interest rate
      Very low
    • Supports cash deposits
    • International transfers

Non-Resident Bank Accounts in Switzerland vs Other Countries

Many countries allow non-residents to open a bank account within their legal jurisdictions, but exactly what kind of requirements non-residents face can differ drastically from country to country and even bank to bank. See the list below to get a better idea of this:

Country

Which non-residents can open an account?

🇬🇧 United Kingdom

Parties with close ties, expats, immigrants, investors, students

🇮🇪 Ireland

Any interested party

🇩🇪 Germany

Parties with close ties

🇫🇷 France

Parties with close ties, investors, students

🇮🇹 Italy

Parties with close ties, Investors

🇨🇭 Switzerland

Investors only

🇪🇸 Spain

Parties with close ties, investors, students

🇵🇹 Portugal

Parties with close ties, investors, expats, students

🇳🇱 Netherlands

Parties with close ties, investors

🇩🇰 Denmark

Parties with close ties, investors

🇳🇴 Norway

Parties with close ties, investors

🇸🇪 Sweden

Parties with close ties, investors

🇦🇹 Austria

Parties with close ties, investors

🇬🇷 Greece

Parties with close ties, investors

🇭🇺 Hungary

Any interested party

🇱🇺 Luxembourg

Parties with close ties, investors

🇱🇮 Liechtenstein

Investors only

🇬🇮 Gibraltar

Investors only

🇮🇲 Isle of Man

Parties with close ties, investors, expats

🇯🇪 Jersey

Parties with close ties, investors, expats

🇨🇾 Cyprus

Any interested party

Last updated: 18/2/2022

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