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Old 03.11.2013, 15:33
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Bank account for US citizens

A friend of mine from the US is unable to open a bank account here despite living here since years. Has anybody encountered this and got a solution?
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Old 03.11.2013, 17:01
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

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A friend of mine from the US is unable to open a bank account here despite living here since years. Has anybody encountered this and got a solution?
Years ago it was dead easy assuming he was legally here, something sounds fishy.

UBS, CS & post finance will take Us clients , go to a main branch.
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Old 03.11.2013, 17:47
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

The solution we have chosen is to move the bulk of our assets and investments back to the US. We use both the CH and US arms of one of the Big Two. Transferring money around is not seamless as the two are separate entities and our account managers here and there cannot speak to one another, but the pain is minimal.

We still have our accounts here; there has been no suggestion of losing them, quite the opposite. Nonetheless, I can't see the current situation resolving anytime soon so we felt it prudent to make plans with the possibility in mind.

But the likelihood of being able to stay in Switzerland post retirement is small anyway, so our long term plans are already US oriented.
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Old 03.11.2013, 22:21
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

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A friend of mine from the US is unable to open a bank account here despite living here since years. Has anybody encountered this and got a solution?
To ensure that the new head of the US Embassy in Bern knows of the difficulties that Americans have in obtaining basic banking services in Switzerland, you might wish to write him:

Jeffrey Cellars
Chargé d'Affaires
US Embassy
Sulgeneckstrasse 19
3007 Bern

If you decide to do so, you probably should do so promptly. With today's revelations that the NSA is spying from all three of its Swiss locations, Cellars could be declared a persona non grata in the coming days and tossed out of Switzerland:

http://www.schweizamsonntag.ch/resso...ge_in_zuerich/
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Old 04.11.2013, 05:36
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

Good point, DuePonte, but do you really expect the chargé d'affaires to have any influence on the IRS?
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Old 04.11.2013, 14:00
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

The information "fatmanfilms" provides is good.

Most Swiss banks no longer accept US clients because of all the red-tape imposed by the IRS, which involves a lot of paperwork and liabilities. It has become too much of a hassle for the Swiss banks since the treaty that was signed just a few years ago to refrain US citizens from "hiding" money for tax reasons (basically, private banking in Switzerland is not what it used to mean).

Depending on your account balance (I think less than 10,000CH), Post will accept US clients.
UBS is now the default bank for US citizens in Switzerland.
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Old 04.11.2013, 15:30
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

I'm not clear what issues your friend is having. Yes, many banks don't accept US citizens anymore (big deal welcome to Switzerland and the current environment) ...and provide limited services if they do (in some cases) but there are choices.

Post Finance for now is accepting, as well as the aforementioned UBS and Credit Suisse.

One has to fill out a W9 Form for FATCA purposes, here you provide your US Social Security number, name, address etc. which will be disclosed to IRS. This is NOT different than opening a bank account in the US, considering the US Banks, in the US, reports your interests, stock-holds etc. to the IRS. It is why when living there I had to account for them on my W2 filings as to not have a descrepency which could trigger an IRS audit.

Of course having a US criminal tax advisor helped to a certain extent until I was AMT'd (a US citizen who has been AMT'd willl understand that one).

Personally, I would not go through the trouble of transferring money between my US accounts and CH ones. But that's my preference.

UBS has US citizen services at Bahnhofstrasse (ZH), near the COOP. Talk to them.
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Old 05.11.2013, 15:55
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

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I was able to open an account through Credit Suisse. I had heard horror stories but it turned out to be fairly simple once I showed my visa and employment contract. They were quite unsure over the phone but making an appointment and speaking to the banker in Bern in person was very helpful! It was very hard for me to find information on this before arriving. Good luck!
(I am read up on FATCA)
That's interesting. I went to the Credit Suisse Branch in Neuchatel this afternoon in an attempt to open an account for an employment offer I recently accepted. The polite but otherwise worthless bank rep. took one look at my B Permit and explained to me that there is "too much paper-work involved and it is very difficult". I told her I'm not worried about paper work, she continued to voice her hesitation/resistance/reluctance. I'm not sure. I've heard and experienced this apathy towards consumers in other instances, but have never met a bank that wouldn't take my money. Perhaps this is an issue with the branch and not the bank, but I was not impressed. I have to make a point to write my legislative reps in order to complain. This is a mess.

I spoke with a UBS representative today (5/11/13) who told me flat out that UBS is not accepting new U.S. customers from the U.S. I have no firm information on Post or others. I will continue to try with Credit Suisse and will report back here.
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Old 05.11.2013, 16:05
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

May be worth trying Migrosbank. I still have my account there after filling out paperwork and jumping through hoops, and now, compared to some of the other stories I've seen it was a cake walk!
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Old 06.11.2013, 12:16
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

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Good point, DuePonte, but do you really expect the chargé d'affaires to have any influence on the IRS?
The Chargé d'Affaires is the head of the US Embassy at this time and is a State Department employee. His predecessor, Donald Beyer, signed the FATCA agreement with the Swiss government. I don't know the influence that State might have on Treasury (IRS) but it can't hurt to remind State through its Bern-based chargé d'affaires of the deleterious impact that FATCA is having on US citizens abroad.

On a related topic, FATCA will likely make life dangerous for Americans living in some countries. A journalist in Lebanon commented:

"In some countries, the American authorities are well aware that their enemies have ready access to financial institutions. The Lebanese Canadian Bank scandal, in which bank managers were accused of helping Hezbollah launder money, showed that this was true in Lebanon. What is to prevent anti-American groups elsewhere from gaining access to data on American citizens, and possibly using this to their advantage? FATCA helps make it eminently possible.

Strangely, we have heard nothing about FATCA from the State Department, which is responsible for Americans overseas. At a time when American embassies regularly issue advisories to citizens to guarantee their safety, we are seeing the IRS asking institutions abroad to gather the most sensitive facts on Americans, with no oversight. The irresponsibility is breathtaking. Worse, because FATCA imposes pariah status on Americans abroad, whatever rightful protest they have against the legislation will sound suspicious."

https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/commenta...curity_problem

Indeed, this column may suggest that Treasury, rather than State, is the primus inter pares.

Last edited by DuePonte; 06.11.2013 at 12:38.
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Old 06.11.2013, 14:01
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

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(I am read up on FATCA)
That's interesting. I went to the Credit Suisse Branch in Neuchatel this afternoon in an attempt to open an account for an employment offer I recently accepted. .....
Hi Veritas,

In Neuchatel we had no trouble (both American) opening an account at the Cantonal bank. A few weeks after opening, they sent us a W-9 to fill out, but as mentioned above, that's standard anywhere. As I recall, we weren't there more than half an hour, and no one blanched at our passports. Good luck!
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Old 07.07.2016, 11:52
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

I know this topic is a bit old, but I have some relevant updates.

I am an American/Canadian here in Geneva on a student visa (valid for one year, renewable one year at a time until degree is finished) and I am not allowed to open a bank account at Post Finance because I am not a permanent resident. As in - with a visa of "only" one year, I am not eligible for an account.

To be clear - this is not something that the Post Finance workers were aware of - they assured me at the Post Office that I had all of the necessary documents and that I would be receiving my card in 10 days. Instead of receiving a card, however, I received a letter from the President telling me that I as an American citizen, I am not eligible.

I have not tried other banks yet, mostly because everyone assured me Post of the the "easiest" and "most lenient". I am planning to try Banque Migros next...
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Old 07.07.2016, 12:27
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

Yes, I've heard that it's becoming more and more difficult for US citizens to open bank accounts here.

The reason why is because of privacy issues. The US government requires citizens to divulge their account information to the IRS for tax purposes. However, I think it's well known that Swiss banks are adamant on keeping their customers' financial information private.

The US government has been putting pressure on Swiss banks over the years to get information from their US clients . Especially if the US citizen is not filling out tax returns or the FBAR/FINCEN financial forms.

So, instead of going against their privacy policies many banks are simply denying accounts to US citizens. Some banks also have a limit on how many accounts can be given to US citizens. It also has to do with government regulations, but I forget the reasons.

Actually, we had some Swiss friends that were also refused an account at the first bank they tried simply because they had lived in the US for a while, but they are Swiss (born here, raised here, and used to have accounts here) !

All I can tell you is to just keep trying .

Kind regards,
TheLaughingCow
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Old 07.07.2016, 13:13
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

Canamabroad, this topic has been covered extensively. It is well known that only UBS and Credit Suisse will issue accounts to US passport holders these days.

We have our accounts with Credit Suisse and have zero problems.
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Old 07.07.2016, 13:26
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Re: Bank account for US citizens

I doubt Migros will take you. You can blame the US government and its FATCA law for all this. Try UBS or Credit Suisse, they're about the only banks here who'll consider you for an account. And you'll need to sign a W-9 form to allow the bank to send the account details on to the IRS.

Welcome to the reality of being an American abroad.

And welcome to the forum and to Switzerland.
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