International sanctions against certain countries (see SECO’s list of countries) are also preventing the provision of financial services from Switzerland, including online banking, for example. Furthermore, owing to the international standards of Swiss banks, Swiss supervisory legislation requires that for every customer relationship the country risk also be considered from the point of view of money laundering or likelihood of corruption. This results in the application of so-called enhanced due diligence which, in turn, may result in significant limitations for customers resident in these countries. Finally, in view of the rising compliance costs due to the high level of regulation, Swiss banks have decided to focus their services on those markets where the customer base is still deemed financially viable.
The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad, SwissCommunity, has been endeavouring to improve this situation for a number of years, for example, through various procedural requests to the National Council and Council of States, through direct dialogue with banks and through contact with industry associations and federal authorities. More information on this can be found on the “Banks” page within the political topics.
The positive insight we have gained from all these efforts is this: Swiss citizens living abroad can maintain banking relationships with multiple Swiss banks from numerous countries of domicile.
Banks which conduct banking relationships with Swiss citizens living abroad are listed on the following pages along with their contact details and conditions. The information here has been communicated to us directly by the banks.
- BCGE Banque Cantonale de Genève
- BCV Banque Cantonale Vaudoise
- CS Credit Suisse
- TKB Thurgauer Kantonalbank
- ZKB Zürcher Kantonalbank
Please ensure that you speak to your bank before moving abroad and clarify the options it offers for your new country of domicile. Most institutions differentiate between existing customer relationships and new customers. Banks also require that the person opening an account appear in person at their premises in Switzerland.
A one-to-one discussion should always be sought in the first instance in the event of disagreements with your bank. Customers unable to find a satisfactory solution despite complaining to their bank can contact the Swiss banking Ombudsman. No charges are incurred for bank customers during arbitration procedures. This independent institution is available to all banking customers, including banking customers abroad.