One of the first things an entrepreneur must do when opening a company in Switzerland
is to create a bank account. The impressive banking system is one of the biggest strengths of the country due its almost legendary privacy policies
Switzerland is renowned for its banking secrecy and therefore many investors choose to store their valuables here. However, Swiss banks do not offer unlimited privacy and in cases of illegal activities suspicion the authorities will be given access to all account information. Also, due to the new double taxation treaties
signed by Switzerland, the country agreed to exchange certain information with partner states.
The accounts cannot be anonymous; the banks must know the identity of the account owner and beneficiary. Swiss banks provide their customers with the opportunity to create numbered accounts which give customers an extra amount of privacy for their personal information. Instead of using the owner’s personal data all transactions are conducted with a code. However, there are several downsides: these types of accounts typically require an initial deposit of at least $100,000, a cost around $300 for maintenance and the owner’s physical presence when registering it.
In Switzerland there are 26 cantons and 24 of them benefit from the presence of cantonal banks. The operations of these banks are regulated by cantonal laws.
According to a survey conducted in 2011 by SwissBanking.org in Switzerland there are 312 active banks with over 3000 branches. Switzerland also has 13 private banks, which are among the oldest in the country and that generally manage assets for private clients
As a general rule, any person over 18 years old can open a bank account in Switzerland. However, banks may refuse to open accounts if there is a case of illegal activity suspicion, if the origin of the money is questionable or unclear or the future owner is “politically exposed”, because his bad reputation can have repercussions over the reputation of the bank. The future owner must provide certified identification data.
It is preferably for the future owner to open his bank account in person but if that is not possible he also has the option of correspondence with the bank.
Clients can open the following types of accounts:
• Personal account: Standard personal accounts are used for salary deposits, payments and security transactions.
• Investment account.
• Savings account: these are used for saving money and gaining interest.
The account can be opened in almost any currency, the most popular being the Swiss franc, U.S. dollar, Euro or Sterling. When setting it up, there is no requirement regarding a minimum balance, but once the owner starts depositing cash there is a minimum balance he must maintain, and that varies according to the bank and type of account.
Closing the account
The account can be liquidated at any time with no restrictions or costs and the money can be redrawn immediately.