The majority of Swiss banks charge higher account fees to customers residing outside of Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In most cases these higher fees also apply to the approximately 750,000 Swiss citizens who live abroad.
Banks cite higher administrative and regulatory costs as the reason for imposing these additional fees for customers living outside of the country.
On average, Swiss banks charge non-resident customers around 300 francs in additional fees every year. At most banks, this works on a “per-relationship” basis rather than on a “per-account” basis.
However, there are major differences in the non-resident fees charged by different Swiss banks. Annual non-resident fees may be as low as 120 francs, or as high as 720 francs, depending on which bank you work with. With such major differences in fees charged, time spent comparing accounts is generally time well spent.
A good first step is to perform a bank account comparison to find out which banks charge the lowest fees to residents. You can then contact these banks to explain your situation and to inquire about non-resident fees.
Fees vary depending on which country you live in
Some Swiss banks charge lower non-resident fees to customers residing in Germany, France, Italy or Austria, and higher fees for customers living in other countries.
Many Swiss banks require that you, as a non-resident, make a minimum amount of deposits in order to open a bank account at all. Many banks will not provide you with a bank account if you do not reside in a country with which Switzerland has a special agreement. If you live in the U.S., for example, you may find it near impossible to open a Swiss bank account.
The Zürcher and Graubündner cantonal banks accept customers from most European countries. The Thurgauer Kantonalbank limits its non-resident customer base to residents of Austria and Germany. The St. Galler Kantonalbank only provides services to residents of some European countries and to Swiss citizens residing outside of Europe.
Exemptions from non-resident fees
Many Swiss banks waive non-resident fees for exceptionally good customers, such as those who make large amounts of investments or take out a mortgage. Exemptions often apply to wealth management clients as well. The exact exemptions available differ from one bank to another.
A handful of Swiss banks do not charge non-resident fees at all.
Crédit Agricole next bank does not mark up fees for customers residing in France, Germany and Liechtenstein (which have economic connections with Switzerland).
Some banks do not impose non-resident fee markups for youth account holders, or for holders of rental deposit accounts or retirement accounts (pillar 3a or vested benefits accounts).
You have to visit Switzerland in order to open an account
The majority of Swiss banks require that you open your account at a branch office in Switzerland. At this point in time, no Swiss banks allow you to open an account entirely online.
Non-resident fees at Credit Suisse
Credit Suisse charges an additional 120 Swiss francs per quarter, or 480 francs per year, to non-resident customers. Exceptions include customers with numbered bank accounts, mortgage-only customers, interest growth savings account holders and customers with investable assets of 1 million Swiss francs or more.
Non-resident fees at UBS
UBS account holders above the age of 20 who reside outside of Switzerland or Liechtenstein are charged 360 francs in non-resident fees every year. Students and youths are exempt from these additional fees. UBS mortgage and mandate solution clients are exempt, as are customers with deposits totaling at least 250,000 francs. Customers in Germany, France, Italy and Austria are exempt from non-resident fees as long as they deposit at least 500 francs into their accounts every month.
Non-resident fees at Raiffeisen
Different branches of the Raiffeisen Bank charge different non-resident fees, but markups typically come to between 120 and 600 francs per year. Ask around at different Raiffeisen branches to find the best offer.
Non-resident fees at ZKB
The Zürcher Kantonalbank (ZKB) charges a basic non-resident fee of 90 francs per quarter, which adds up to 360 francs per year.
Non-resident fees at PostFinance
PostFinance charges non-resident customers 300 francs per year on a per-account basis, regardless of their assets or place of residence. That comes to 25 francs per month per private account or business account. Important: Non-resident fees at PostFinance are charged on a “per-account” basis, and not on a “per relationship” basis as they are at most other Swiss banks.
Non-resident fees at Migros Bank and Bank Cler
At Migros Bank, non-resident fees for customers in countries bordering Switzerland come to 300 francs per year. These are reduced to 60 francs per year if deposits of 7500 francs or more are maintained. Residents of all other countries pay 360 francs per year.
Bank Cler charges 20 francs per month, or a total of 240 francs per year, in non-resident fees. Non-resident fees are waived for customers with a Bank Cler mortgage and those with deposits of at least 100,000 francs.