How to open a Swiss bank account

How to open a Swiss bank account: information for foreign residents who would like to open a new bank account in Switzerland.

Switzerland is famed for its banking industry and the high levels of privacy the banks provide their customers. Here are some of the key aspects you should consider before beginning the process of opening a Swiss bank account.
Of course, each individual bank will have its own procedure for opening an account, depending on your needs, your finances and your location in the world.

However, the banks are also bound by common laws applicable to all institutions in the country, so most account opening procedures will have a similar standard of requirements.

Who can open a bank account in Switzerland?

Swiss banks are happy to have foreign residents as customers. You can hold an account in Swiss francs or in a range of other world currencies.

Each bank will set the minimum deposit amount for opening the account, so you will need to find a bank that will accept the amount of funds you have.

Which documents will I need?

All banks will require customers to prove their identity with an official document, usually a passport.

If you are not able to go to Switzerland in person to open the account, you may complete the procedure by post by sending a copy of your passport certified by an approved institution.

By law, banks in Switzerland are not allowed to accept funds which they know or suspect have been obtained through criminal activities.

Therefore, it’s normal when opening an account for the bank to ask for documents proving the origin of the funds.

This could be a bank statement showing salary payments or documents from the sale of property.

How private is Swiss banking?

It is illegal for employees of Swiss banks to reveal any information about customers’ accounts.

This secrecy is the foundation for the success of the Swiss banking industry, so you can be sure that your privacy will be totally respected.

You should note, however, that in recent years, several agreements have been signed between Switzerland and countries including the USA, Germany and the UK in attempt to crack down on tax evasion.

These agreements mean that, while Switzerland fiercely protects privacy, there are some circumstances where banks must cooperate with foreign authorities.

How do I open an anonymous account?

In fact, in Switzerland there is no such thing as a completely anonymous account and a bank must always verify your identity before opening an account for you.

However, if you are looking for the highest level of privacy from your bank, you may be interested in opening a numbered account.

You will still be required to prove your identity, but transactions related to your account will not be identified with your name, but instead with the number of your account.

For more information, get in touch with the bank where you are interested in opening an account and ask them which services they provide. 

Find out more

Our financial advisor can help you find the bank you need and assist you with opening an account. We work closely with some of the biggest names in private banking in Switzerland.
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