Swiss Bank Accounts: What You Need to Know

By Jay White

June 7, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

The banking system in Switzerland is known to be one of the most efficient, modern and well-capitalized around the world. Swiss banks are often associated with the offshore financial system, which gets a bad reputation due to a few account holders who seek to skirt taxation laws while taking advantage of privacy and confidentiality measures. To this effect, the Swiss banking system has been paraded in news headlines due to a few infamous clients whose deposits and transactions were of a dubious nature.

Privacy and confidentiality have been two of the most attractive factors of the Swiss banking system. Compared to bank regulations in countries such as the United States, Swiss banks know how to straddle the line between being liberal and conservative while staying transparent. The liberal spirit means that people who do not reside in Switzerland are allowed to open a bank account as long as they are over the age of 18 and are willing to abide by the anti-money laundering regulations.

Choosing a Swiss Bank

One of the advantages of Swiss banks is that many of them are truly international. What this means is that they keep branches in other countries and strive to offer clients some of the services they would find in Switzerland. It is important to remember, however, that banks must follow the laws of the nations where they have physical branches. In other words, one cannot expect too much privacy from the branch office of a Swiss bank in the U.S.

Convenient offshore services are offered by some Swiss banks in different jurisdictions. This means that agents outside of Switzerland may assist clients with various transactions such as opening accounts, making deposits, choosing investments, requesting withdrawals, etc. There is usually a fee associated with these offshore services, which offer the convenience of not having to communicate with Swiss banks via fax or email.

Keeping the above in mind, choosing a Swiss bank will largely depend on the services desired. Many banks offer investment services, which can serve to offset the taxation imposed by Swiss revenue collectors.

Opening an Account in a Swiss Bank

Swiss measures to prevent money laundering must be observed when opening a bank account. This means that authenticated copies of passports, payroll checks and business documents must be furnished by mail or courier, and they must be further certified by the apostille process. When opening a numbered Swiss bank account, clients must keep in mind that a personal visit is required.

Jay White

I started Dumb Little Man many years ago so great authors, writers and bloggers could share their life "hacks" and tips for success with everyone. I hope you find something you like!

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