You will need to open a Swiss bank account as soon as you arrive in Switzerland. This will not only be requested by your employer, but it will also be necessary for paying your rent and utilities. You will only be able to open a bank account once you have registered as a resident.
Opening a bank account in Switzerland as quickly as possible following your arrival is highly recommended. Your Swiss employer will insist on paying your salary into a Swiss bank account, and to avoid international transfer charges, you will almost certainly prefer to pay your rent and utilities from a Swiss bank account.
Opening a bank account is subject to various regulations. The application process can vary depending on your nationality and place of residence. There are three things you will definitely need:
Yourself, in person
Very important, as currently foreigners cannot easily open a bank account online, over the phone or otherwise.
Your Swiss papers
You will need a valid Swiss residency and work permit (or a valid Swiss residency permit plus a Swiss employment contract)
Your foreign ID
You will also need to take your national ID card or your passport from your country of citizenship.
You must be registered as a resident in Switzerland before being able to open an account.
Note that at the time of writing, foreign citizens cannot open a bank account online, over the phone or by sending your partner or lawyer to open one for you. Swiss laws require banks to confirm a potential client’s identity and to verify their source of income.
What to look out for
Nearly every bank charges a monthly or annual fee for use of the account. The fee varies, typically based on which banking services you sign up for. Most people look to have a current account (to receive their salary), a savings account, at least one credit card, and access to online banking.
As a foreign resident in Switzerland, you should pay attention to these details once you choose a bank in Switzerland:
- Is support available in English?
- What are the costs for international transfers?
- Can debit cards be used outside Switzerland as well?
- What are the costs for attaching foreign currency accounts?
- What are the costs for withdrawing other currency than CHF?