open swiss bank account online
Accounts & Cards

How to Open a Swiss Bank Account Online

March 13, 2024 - Ralf Beyeler

Many Swiss banks give you the option of opening a bank account completely online. This moneyland.ch guide explains which Swiss banks let you open a bank account online.

The days of having to visit a branch office to open a bank account are over. Many Swiss banks now give you the option of opening a bank account online.

In order to open a bank account, you have to prove your identity. For online account opening, this is done by taking a picture of your ID card, passport, or residence permit. There are additional steps that have to be taken to confirm your identity, but these vary between banks. In many cases, you have to take a photograph or even a video of yourself, or have a video call with an employee. Some banks require you to scan the biometric data stored on your passport using an eligible phone.

Which Swiss banks offer online account opening?

These banks let new customers open a bank account completely online. The contract is signed using a qualified electronic signature.

Table 1: Open a Swiss bank account online

Bank Identity verification Available in these countries
Conventional banks
Aargauische Kantonalbank Mobile app: Photograph and self-portrait Switzerland
Alternative Bank Mobile app: Self-portrait Switzerland
Banca Stato Video call Switzerland
Basellandschaftliche
Kantonalbank
Photograph and video of your identification
document, video self-portrait, photograph
of an invoice
Switzerland
Berner Kantonalbank Video call Switzerland
Bank BSU Via Swisscom online identification Switzerland
Banque Cantonale de Genève Video call Switzerland
Banque Cantonale Vaudoise No information Switzerland
CA next bank Video call Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy 1
Hypothekarbank Lenzburg Photograph and self-portrait Switzerland
Luzerner Kantonalbank Video call Switzerland
Migros Bank Photograph of your identification document
or video call
Switzerland
Nidwaldner Kantonalbank Video call Switzerland
Obwaldner Kantonalbank Photograph and self-portrait Switzerland
Postfinance 2 Video identification Switzerland
Raiffeisen Photograph and self-portrait Switzerland
St. Galler Kantonalbank Photograph and self-portrait or video call Switzerland
UBS (Key4) Biometric passport or video call Switzerland
Valiant Online identification or video identification Switzerland
Zuger Kantonalbank Self-identification with a biometric passport Switzerland
Neobanks
Alpian Mobile app: Photograph and self-portrait Switzerland
Coop Finance Plus Mobile app: Photograph and self-portrait Switzerland
Neon Mobile app: Photograph and self-portrait or
video call
Switzerland,
cross-border workers from summer 2024
Yapeal

Mobile app: Photograph and self-portrait

Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy,
Austria, Liechtenstein
Yuh Photograph and self-portrait, proof of
residence may also be required
Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy,
Austria, Liechtenstein
Zak Mobile app: Photograph and self-portrait Switzerland

The data in Table 1 applies to private accounts (checking accounts) from Swiss banks.
1 Customers in France, Germany, and Italy who have a financial connection to Switzerland can open an account online. Other cases (such as Swiss pensioners living in Portugal) are judged on an individual basis.
2 If the online account application is done using a web browser, and not in the mobile app, than you have to visit a Swiss post office or a Postfinance branch office to complete the verification. Many other banks have told moneyland.ch that they plan to introduce online account opening in the near future. The cantonal banks of Glarus and Uri, for example, want to introduce this service in 2024. The Zürcher Kantonalbank is working on a qualified electronic signature.

Can I apply for a Swiss bank account online and complete the application by postal mail?

Some Swiss banks do not give you the option of opening an account completely online, but they do let you apply for an account online. You enter your personal information on the bank’s website, and the bank then contacts you to complete the account-opening process. Depending on the bank, you may have to send a certified copy of your identification document by mail.

Among other locations, you can get a verified copy of your ID at the counters of SBB/CFF ticket offices that offer currency exchange. The SBB service costs 18 francs. Swiss post offices also offer certified copies for a fee of 25 francs. Some municipal and cantonal offices also offer this service.

These Swiss banks let you apply for an account online, and then complete the account-openining process by mail.

  • Bank Cler
  • Basler Kantonalbank
  • Banque Cantonale Neuchâteloise
  • Schwyzer Kantonalbank
  • Urner Kantonalbank
  • Zürcher Kantonalbank

(The list does not include banks that also offer online-only account opening. Depending on the bank, you may have the option of completing the account opening by mail if you are unable to complete the process completely online).

The Banque Cantonale Neuchâteloise and the Zürcher Kantonalbank both offer online identity verification. But you must still complete and return the documents you receive from the bank by mail in order to complete the account-opening process.

Do I have to visit a branch office in order to open a Swiss bank account?

Some banks let you apply for a bank account online, but require that you visit a branch office to complete the account-opening process. If you do not visit a branch office, the account you applied for online will not be opened.

Some banks give you the option of completing the identity verification at a post office or train station office instead.

Can I open just a savings account or retirement account online, even if I do not have a private account at the same bank?

Bei vielen Schweizer Banken ist es nicht möglich, online ein Sparkonto oder ein 3a-Vorsorgekonto zu eröffnen, wenn Sie nicht gleichzeitig ein Privatkonto bei der gleichen Bank eröffnen wollen. Bei vielen Banken können Sie dagegen ein Sparkonto ohne Privatkonto beziehungsweise ein Säule 3a-Konto ohne Privatkonto am Schalter eröffnen.

Many Swiss banks do not let you open a savings account or a pillar 3a account online, unless you also open a private account with them at the same time.

But there are also banks that do give you the option of opening just a savings account or a retirement account online, without having to have a private account with them. Table 2 shows you which banks give you these options.

Table 2: Open a savings account online without a private account

Bank Savings account Pillar 3a retirement account
Conventional banks
Aargauische Kantonalbank Yes Yes
Bank BSU Yes Yes
Bank CIC No Yes
Banque Cantonale de Genève Yes Yes
Luzerner Kantonalbank Yes Yes
Migros Bank Yes No
Nidwaldner Kantonalbank Yes No
Valiant Yes Yes
Zuger Kantonalbank Yes Yes
Smartphone-Banken
Coop Finance Plus No Yes
Kontomat (Glarner Kantonalbank) Yes No
wiLLBe Yes No

 

Table 2 includes banks that let you open either a savings account or pillar 3a account without a private account, and at which the account-opening process for these is completely online. Banks that let you apply for accounts online but require further offline action for account opening are not included.

Is it possible to open other kinds of accounts like savings accounts along with a private account?

Some Swiss banks only let you open a private account online. Other kinds of accounts like savings accounts and pillar 3a accounts only become available once you have finished opening your private account. When you open a bank account at a branch office, on the other hand, you can normally open multiple accounts at the same time.

But some banks do let you open other accounts along with a private account. A number of banks also let you request additional bank accounts – primarily savings accounts and pillar 3a accounts – when you apply online.

For example, the Alternative Bank, the Basellandschaftlichen Kantonalbank, Bank BSU, Banca Stato, Valiant Bank, and the Zuger Kantonalbank let you open a savings account and a retirement account along with a private account. The Migros Bank, Raiffeisen banks, and the St. Galler Kantonalbank let you open a savings account along with a private account. Migros Bank, the St. Galler Kantonalbank, Banca Stato and Valiant Bank also give you the option of applying for a credit card along with your private account.

I already have a bank account. Can I open additional bank accounts online at the same bank?

If you already have an account with a bank, then the digital account-opening process is simpler. Although most banks do not give you the option of simply opening additional accounts via online banking, you can normally send the bank a request to open a new account using your online banking messenger service.

Which documents do I need to submit when opening an account online?

An ID card or passport is required to open a bank account. If you are not a Swiss citizen, you may need your Swiss residence permit, depending on the bank.

I do not want to take a self-portrait or make a video call. Are there alternatives?

Many Swiss banks, especially conventional banks with branch offices, give you the option of visiting a branch office to confirm your identity if the online verification process does not work.

If you do not want to verify your identity online, you can ask your bank if you can do it by mail or by visiting a branch office.

I do not live in Switzerland, but I will be moving to Switzerland soon. Can I already open a Swiss bank account online?

Most Swiss banks only let you open an account online if you have residence in Switzerland. Additionally, some banks also require you to be physically present in Switzerland at the time of application.

In practice, you can only open an account online once you have a Swiss C or B residence permit that you can show when applying for your account. Opening a bank account in person at a branch office, on the other hand, is sometimes possible even if you do not yet live in Switzerland.

Only a few Swiss banks let you open an account online if you do not live in Switzerland, and applications are generally limited to countries bordering Switzerland. Table 3 lists Swiss banks that accept online applications from customers outside of Switzerland.

Can I open an account online if I do not live in Switzerland?

Most Swiss banks do not accept online account applications from non-residents. Some Swiss banks do open accounts for non-resident customers, but only in-person at branch offices.

But there are a handful of financial services providers that do let non-residents open a bank account online, if you live in specific countries – primarily those bordering Switzerland. 

Table 3: Open a Swiss bank account online as a non-resident

Bank Accepted countries
Conventional banks  
CA next bank Germany, France, Italy 1
Neobanks  
Neon Cross-border workers will be accepted from summer, 2024
Yapeal Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein
Yuh Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein

1 Customers in France, Germany, and Italy who have a financial connection to Switzerland can open an account online.

Saxo and Swissquote – two Swiss banks that specialize in online trading – let you open stock brokerage accounts online as a non-resident. Willbe (bank account and asset management service) is available to residents of Austria, Germany, and Liechtenstein. Online asset management service Inyova is available to residents of Austria and Germany.

How long does it take for an account I open online to be ready for use?

When you open an account online, you often have to wait several days before the account is actually opened and you receive an account number. But some service providers give you your account number and online banking login information right away. The Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank, for example, sends you your login for online banking during the account-opening process.

What else do I need to know?

Opening an account online is generally possible at many Swiss banks. But banks stress that there are exceptions. In some cases, visiting a branch office will still be required.

If you are a US citizen or are subject to US taxes, opening a Swiss bank account online is more difficult. For example, UBS requires people affiliated with the US to visit a branch office when opening an account.

Postfinance requires prospective customers under the age of 18 to visit a post office or a Postfinance branch office in order to open a new account.

Some banks only let you open an account online if you are already a customer of another Swiss bank, and make a transfer from your existing Swiss bank account to your new account. The transfer has to come from an account with the same name and address. If you do not already have a Swiss bank account, you will not be able to open an account online at these banks. That could be the case if you are a young person opening your first bank account, or if you have recently moved to Switzerland.

More on this topic:
Compare Swiss private accounts now
Compare Swiss stock brokerage accounts now
Compare Swiss savings accounts now
Compare Swiss asset management services now

Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at moneyland.ch and also covers other areas of personal finance.
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