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Old 11.07.2013, 20:22
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Closing of CH bank accounts of US citizens - payments to CH from abroad

Hello. I have recently returned to the US from Switzerland after 6 years of working for big pharma in Geneva. I am US citizen and now I have C permit "on hold". PostFinance told me to close my bank account. Not exactly great news, but would not be an annoying thing if I hadn't had to make some utilities payments for my apartment (that I own in Switzerland). How can I make phone/internet/tax payments from US bank account? Is anybody dealing with the same problem? Thanks in advance.
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Old 11.07.2013, 20:46
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Re: Closing of CH bank accounts of US citizens - payments to CH from abroad

Have you told PostFinance that your C permit is on hold and that you still have bills to pay regularly on the apartment you own here? Might help persuade them to keep the account open. Otherwise I can only think you'd need to set up some sort of direct debit/standing order, but it depends on how "international" US banks are. Do they have things like IBAC and SWIFT? Or maybe ask UBS if they would take on your account here and then you could pay your bills with e-banking.
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Old 11.07.2013, 20:59
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Re: Closing of CH bank accounts of US citizens - payments to CH from abroad

Do you have a mortgage loan on your apartment? While Swiss banks are no longer offering mortgages to US persons not resident in Switzerland, they do allow mortgage loans to continue at least if the terms of the loan don't allow them to call it in. I know that Crédit Suisse allows (indeed requires) such borrowers to maintain a savings account for the sole purpose of making loan payments. Presumably other payments relating to the property could come out of the account as well.

There are several workarounds, some more heroic and some more expensive than others. One is to have an account at whatever European bank will allow, and make the payments by IBAN, but the cost is obviously greater than if you had an account in Switzerland.

Another is to prevail upon a major corporation, your former or future employer perhaps, to sponsor your account. This is, in fact, what the US Embassy in Bern and the US Mission in Geneva do.
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Old 11.07.2013, 21:12
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Re: Closing of CH bank accounts of US citizens - payments to CH from abroad

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Hello. I have recently returned to the US from Switzerland after 6 years of working for big pharma in Geneva. I am US citizen and now I have C permit "on hold". PostFinance told me to close my bank account. Not exactly great news, but would not be an annoying thing if I hadn't had to make some utilities payments for my apartment (that I own in Switzerland). How can I make phone/internet/tax payments from US bank account? Is anybody dealing with the same problem? Thanks in advance.
Some Swiss accounts may remain open while one is in the US, as long as one agrees to not use it or hear anything about it until one returns. So, you'd still have to use a US bank to make payments.
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Old 11.07.2013, 21:14
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Re: Closing of CH bank accounts of US citizens - payments to CH from abroad

And who determines these "some accounts"? What is the procedure?

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Some Swiss accounts may remain open while one is in the US, as long as one agrees to not use it or hear anything about it until one returns. So, you'd still have to use a US bank to make payments.
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Old 11.07.2013, 21:22
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Re: Closing of CH bank accounts of US citizens - payments to CH from abroad

The problem is not the ability to pay from the US, but the cost of wire transfers for small utility bills.

I pay for my holiday apartment rentals using XE.com ... it is quite easy to set up an account, and once it is done they will withdraw money from your US bank (EFT is cheapest option) and transfer it to the recipient with a $22 wire fee. This obviously adds up for monthly bills

My bank, Bank of America, also has an online international bill paying option; I believe their exchange rate is less favorable and they charge more for the wire (since I did no transactions with them I cannot be sure).

Is there a way to pay the utility bills annually, maybe in advance? That would cut down on the wire fees.
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Old 11.07.2013, 21:24
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Re: Closing of CH bank accounts of US citizens - payments to CH from abroad

Yes, exactly - paying 20$ wire fee for a 20eur payment is not logical
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Old 11.07.2013, 22:02
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Re: Closing of CH bank accounts of US citizens - payments to CH from abroad

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And who determines these "some accounts"? What is the procedure?
There is probably no procedure and it is likely on an individual basis from bank to bank. The following link talks about 20 cases where individuals living in America still have a Swiss bank account:

"Wer für kürzere Zeit (einige Monate bis wenige Jahre) in den USA arbeiten geht, kann sein Spar- oder Privatkonto bei der Zuger KB behalten. Das Depot muss er hingegen aufheben, E-Banking erhält er auch nicht. Während des Aufenthalts in den USA darf er mit seiner Bank zuhause nie telefonieren und auch keine Post austauschen. Und er muss der Bank bestätigen, dass er seinen Steuerpflichten in den USA nachkommt. "Wir haben derzeit rund 20 Kunden aus Zug, die ihre Beziehungen mit uns auf diese Weise behalten wollten.""
http://www.swissinfo.ch/ger/wirtschaft/Freiwillige_Helfer_der_US-Steuerbehoerden_.html?cid=36382290

The reason why you can't bank online from the US is because the Dodd-Frank-Act makes such too expensive.
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Old 11.07.2013, 23:04
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Re: Closing of CH bank accounts of US citizens - payments to CH from abroad

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There is probably no procedure and it is likely on an individual basis from bank to bank. The following link talks about 20 cases where individuals living in America still have a Swiss bank account:

"Wer für kürzere Zeit (einige Monate bis wenige Jahre) in den USA arbeiten geht, kann sein Spar- oder Privatkonto bei der Zuger KB behalten. Das Depot muss er hingegen aufheben, E-Banking erhält er auch nicht. Während des Aufenthalts in den USA darf er mit seiner Bank zuhause nie telefonieren und auch keine Post austauschen. Und er muss der Bank bestätigen, dass er seinen Steuerpflichten in den USA nachkommt. "Wir haben derzeit rund 20 Kunden aus Zug, die ihre Beziehungen mit uns auf diese Weise behalten wollten.""
http://www.swissinfo.ch/ger/wirtschaft/Freiwillige_Helfer_der_US-Steuerbehoerden_.html?cid=36382290

The reason why you can't bank online from the US is because the Dodd-Frank-Act makes such too expensive.
The English version of the Swissinfo article is here: http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/business...l?cid=36384796

I'm not so sure about Dodd-Frank being so much an obstacle as FATCA but I haven't looked at the issue of jurisdiction (of a bank doing no particular business in the USA but having one or more US-based customers). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodd%9...Protection_Act The key words in the article are "actively do[ing] business with US clients". But I would think that they mean "soliciting US clients".

If you look at the Lloyd's of London cases at http://snurl.com/lloydata you will see how regulatory jurisdiction can and is waived by the parties even when it shouldn't be.

In real life, the banks just don't want to be bothered and they have to have a reason to take the trouble and/or the risk. That means having substantial business or a sponsoring firm or a large account, having an established mortgage that can't be called early by the bank.

Years ago there were cheap workarounds for paying Swiss bills from a foreign account. One I used was Swiss travellers checks, but these, formerly issued by the Swiss Bankers Association with American Express, have been abolished. Then there were Eurocheques, but these have been abolished too. Electronic payment from a European account via IBAN is relatively costly for small transfers but it's mechanically easy online. PayPal may be a possibility and I'm sure there are other ways that I haven't thought of yet.
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