Opening a bank account in Switzerland

Hi all,

is it difficult for expats to open a bank account in Switzerland ?

Which documents are required to open a bank account in Switzerland ?

How long does it take to open it ?

Is there any restriction for expats regarding the services (loans for instance)  ?

Which bank would you recommend ?

Thanks in advance for your participation,


Banking shouldn't be a problem in Switzerland, it's one of the national industries right here.
Usually, you need to provide legitimation (passport or permit to stay). Not all banks will open an account for people not living in Switzerland.

For loans and mortgages the banks usually require some proof of income to show that you are able to pay off the loan and pay the interest.

It should be possible to get a normal bank account for free at most of the banks. Expect to operate cost-effectively for your bank in that case: use internet banking, and don't require a paper account overview in your snail-mail-box every week.

Interests are extremely low. It is hard to find a saving account that offers more than 1.25% interest. On the other hand, mortgage interests are low as well :) and so is inflation.

Interest is paid by the end of the year, and you'll find out that your bank keeps off 35% of the interest you are supposed to receive. These 35% are paid to the tax collector. When filling out your tax form, you should declare your bank accounts, and include the interest sheet you got from your bank. In doing so, the 35% will be refunded - excluding the tax you are supposed to pay on the interest. If you don't indicate your bank account on the tax form, the 35% is gone (and that's usually much more than the tax you are supposed to pay, so you may loose on this). This is to stimulate people to be fair to the tax system, as the Swiss banks have their famous "Bank Secret" and won't inform the tax collector about any details of your bank account.

Anyone in the world should know UBS and Credit Suisse as the two biggest Swiss banks, operating world wide. Furthermore, you might want to consider:
- Raiffeisen, which typically invests in the local area, and is locally organised
- Most cantons have their own bank (Kantonalbank)
- Postbank
- The two big supermarkt chains, Migros and Coop, also have their own banks. Our mortgage is from Migros Bank and has excellent conditions. Migros Bank is also known als a no-frills bank: no big bonuses, no big expensive offices - so you are not paying for that, either.
- ABS is the "Alternative Bank der Schweiz". Here, you're sure your money is used in an ethically and environmentally correct way.

Hope this helps,

Hi Twan!

Thanks a lot for your help ;)


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