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-   -   Can I open a bank account from abroad? (https://www.englishforum.ch/finance-banking-taxation/240102-can-i-open-bank-account-abroad.html)

swissbnk 09.09.2015 06:35

Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
Recently I head a story about a relative's friend who's on government's support plan due to being rather poor. She was asked to help a relative and send some money to another relative as he was sick, but she found out that you cannot send money in a mail, so she decided to use banking instead. She added money to her bank account and transferred it to her relative instead. A month later, when she had to see the government support institution, they started asking her about the money and told her that she cannot get the support anymore because she apparently has money from somewhere (even though she doesn't, in reality).

So the moral here is - I was exposed to the idea that government and pretty much anybody can see what you're doing with your funds just by clicking a button on their screen. I do not feel safe using my credit cards and banks anymore, and not because I do something illegal or even close to that, but because I do not feel safe being tracked like that.

That said, I'd like to be able to feel safe and use my credit card without having to worry that someone can find out what I bought, where I bought it, what ATM I used, in which country, etc. just by a simple click of a mouse. And Swiss banks seem to be good with privacy.

So, my questions is - can I open a Swiss bank account if I'm a resident of European Union, but not of Switzerland, and if I don't even live in Switzerland, and possibly even skipping on visiting it in the first place (tickets are quite costly)? And if I can, perhaps you can point me to the right direction?

I would probably go through a couple hundred euros a month in/out in my account and I can't afford to pay a lot for service fees (right now I pay a couple Euros a month), and I would mostly be using it for online purchases and such, if that matters.

Mullhollander 09.09.2015 07:06

Re: Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
Auslandschweizer-Organisation surveyed Swiss banks in May 2015 and developed a list of banks that may or may not accept customers from abroad:

http://www.aso.ch/files/webcontent/r...elle_WEB_E.pdf

swissbnk 09.09.2015 07:10

Re: Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mullhollander (Post 2446601)
Auslandschweizer-Organisation surveyed Swiss banks in May 2015 and developed a list of banks that may or may not accept customers from abroad:

http://www.aso.ch/files/webcontent/r...elle_WEB_E.pdf

Very useful - thanks!

Would I have to show up in Switzerland, or would I be able to open an account without even showing up? I.e. fax/scan/print or some other ways of processing documents. Or does that depend on the bank as well?

Guest 09.09.2015 07:45

Re: Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
Even if you show up and are not resident here it is very hard unless you have millions.

Swiss banks have to do due dillegence on origin of any money and they are not really ready to do so unless it's a 7 figure sum with a very convincing story.

So, the answer is basically no.

As a foreigner, residing abroad in a different jurisdictions the privacy rules are not quitre the same............;)

Medea Fleecestealer 09.09.2015 07:54

Re: Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by swissbnk (Post 2446603)
Very useful - thanks!

Would I have to show up in Switzerland, or would I be able to open an account without even showing up? I.e. fax/scan/print or some other ways of processing documents. Or does that depend on the bank as well?

Probably. I don't think many banks will allow you to open an account without doing so in person these days.

What makes you think you can't be tracked from a Swiss bank anyway? Use of ATM's, credit cards, etc, will still be trackable.

Also bear in mind that you'd need either a Swiss Franc account which could mean losses on currency exchange with the Euro or you'd need a Euro account which could incur higher charges than those listed on the PDF Mullhollander posted.

For the amount you're talking about I doubt it's worth the effort of setting the account up, assuming you'd even be able to.

swissbnk 09.09.2015 08:26

Re: Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
Quote:

Even if you show up and are not resident here it is very hard unless you have millions.

Swiss banks have to do due dillegence on origin of any money and they are not really ready to do so unless it's a 7 figure sum with a very convincing story.

So, the answer is basically no.

As a foreigner, residing abroad in a different jurisdictions the privacy rules are not quitre the same............;)
That contradicts what the PDF says though - how come the info is contradicting, which is correct?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Medea Fleecestealer (Post 2446615)
Probably. I don't think many banks will allow you to open an account without doing so in person these days.

What makes you think you can't be tracked from a Swiss bank anyway? Use of ATM's, credit cards, etc, will still be trackable.

Also bear in mind that you'd need either a Swiss Franc account which could mean losses on currency exchange with the Euro or you'd need a Euro account which could incur higher charges than those listed on the PDF Mullhollander posted.

For the amount you're talking about I doubt it's worth the effort of setting the account up, assuming you'd even be able to.

Well, if it's absolutely necessary, I could show up, I'd just prefer to not spend 200eu or so on tickets.

As for being tracked from a Swiss bank, I may actually be wrong, so do correct me if I am. I'm going to clarify for that reason: what I meant by not being tracked is that, while everything would still be logged in the bank history, nobody would be able to pretty much click a button and see what's on the bank statement. So even if I use ATMs and that's in the bank log for my account - it's just for me to see. When using my credit card, of course the other party will be able to see that I did so, but nobody goes through Ebay or Amazon logs in that way. By the way, by credit cards I mean debit cards that you can use to make purchases online.

In short, my concern is that I feel unsafe, which means I feel bad mentally about doing anything with my credit card or bank account. Since then, I'm only using cash because I just simply do not feel safe - all someone needs to do is click a button and they can see my bank history. So I just want to feel at peace and not feel like someone can access very personal data so easily.

plumtree 09.09.2015 08:37

Re: Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
You can open an account with PostFinance if you live abroad. There is no requirement to live or work here to open an account.

I had a Post Finance current and savings account set before I moved to Switzerland. The procedure can be done by post or in person. I came in person and did it over the counter as it avoided having to get a notarized copy of passport to send to them.

Currently PF are only accepting applications to open an account online from persons who indicate an address in Switzerland or a bordering country, though this is essentially just a correspondence address and if the account(s) is/are run entirely online, it will rarely be used other than to initially send you cards, card readers and NIPs. To open the account you need an address in Switzerland or a bordering country to receive those essentials.

Note: you may have to personally sign to receive one or more of those elements they send you, particularly if you use an address in a bordering country, i.e. Postfinance may send some things by registered post!

swissbnk 09.09.2015 08:42

Re: Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by plumtree (Post 2446637)
You can open an account with PostFinance if you live abroad. There is no requirement to live or work here to open an account.

I had a Post Finance current and savings account set before I moved to Switzerland. The procedure can be done by post or in person. I came in person and did it over the counter as it avoided having to get a notarized copy of passport to send to them.

Currently PF are only accepting applications to open an account online from persons who indicate an address in Switzerland or a bordering country, though this is a essentially just a correspondence address and if the account is run entirely online, it will rarely be used other than to send you cards, card readers and NIPs. To open the account you need an address in Switzerland or a bordering country to receive those essentials.

Unfortunately my country isn't bordering Switzerland, nor do I know anybody who lives around there who I'd trust enough with such things (in fact, I don't think I know anybody who lives in a country bordering Switzerland).

Medea Fleecestealer 09.09.2015 08:51

Re: Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by swissbnk (Post 2446629)
That contradicts what the PDF says though - how come the info is contradicting, which is correct?



Well, if it's absolutely necessary, I could show up, I'd just prefer to not spend 200eu or so on tickets.

As for being tracked from a Swiss bank, I may actually be wrong, so do correct me if I am. I'm going to clarify for that reason: what I meant by not being tracked is that, while everything would still be logged in the bank history, nobody would be able to pretty much click a button and see what's on the bank statement. So even if I use ATMs and that's in the bank log for my account - it's just for me to see. When using my credit card, of course the other party will be able to see that I did so, but nobody goes through Ebay or Amazon logs in that way. By the way, by credit cards I mean debit cards that you can use to make purchases online.

In short, my concern is that I feel unsafe, which means I feel bad mentally about doing anything with my credit card or bank account. Since then, I'm only using cash because I just simply do not feel safe - all someone needs to do is click a button and they can see my bank history. So I just want to feel at peace and not feel like someone can access very personal data so easily.

Debit cards are not so widely used online and Swiss ones are even less likely to be accepted outside of the country.

I think you're being a bit paranoid over a story you've read - which doesn't make that much sense really. It's easy enough to do money transfers using a company like Western Union and you never explained where she got the money she sent in the first place. If she got it from another relative, why didn't they send the money directly from their own account rather than asking her?

But if you're that worried keep paying everything with cash and don't buy online, simple.

swissbnk 09.09.2015 09:04

Re: Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Medea Fleecestealer (Post 2446644)
Debit cards are not so widely used online and Swiss ones are even less likely to be accepted outside of the country.

I think you're being a bit paranoid over a story you've read - which doesn't make that much sense really. It's easy enough to do money transfers using a company like Western Union and you never explained where she got the money she sent in the first place. If she got it from another relative, why didn't they send the money directly from their own account rather than asking her?

But if you're that worried keep paying everything with cash and don't buy online, simple.

Mainly there's MasterCard and Visa debit cards, which you can use pretty much everywhere online and offline. I'm yet to encounter a single issue with that. But perhaps they are not called debit cards technically? I'm not sure. I always call them credit cards, but credit cards means 'loaning' money, which is not how my debit card works. Anyway, I hope I cleared that up.

It's not a story I read, it's a story I heard from a guy who I actually do trust (I don't trust many people). And people in my country aren't so... Educated, let's call it. So they don't really know about such things as Western Union and all that, the woman thought she can just send it in a letter. As to where she got the money - as far as I know, there was some kinda celebration and they met, I don't know why she was given the money. Maybe they live far away from the city and weren't going to visit it, maybe she offered to help, I don't know, and to be honest - I don't care. What I do care about is the bottom line, that anyone can snoop on your bank statement by simply clicking a button.

And I'm not worried, I simply do not feel safe. It's a feeling that you are not causing by worrying, it's a feeling that just is there. I also can't pay for everything in cash - most things that I want to buy (and going to soon) are only obtainable online. For example - certain hardware.

Mullhollander 09.09.2015 09:09

Re: Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by swissbnk (Post 2446603)
Very useful - thanks!

Would I have to show up in Switzerland, or would I be able to open an account without even showing up? I.e. fax/scan/print or some other ways of processing documents. Or does that depend on the bank as well?

Don't know. For more information suggest looking at their websites and/ or calling them.

hairybadger 09.09.2015 09:13

Re: Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
Is it just me or does this story smell of 419?

swissbnk 09.09.2015 09:15

Re: Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by hairybadger (Post 2446663)
Is it just me or does this story smell of 419?

I've no idea, but the guy didn't tell me that anybody was scammed, so I'm guessing no. Either way though, personally I do not care.

Medea Fleecestealer 09.09.2015 10:23

Re: Can I open a bank account from abroad?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by swissbnk (Post 2446653)
Mainly there's MasterCard and Visa debit cards, which you can use pretty much everywhere online and offline. I'm yet to encounter a single issue with that. But perhaps they are not called debit cards technically? I'm not sure. I always call them credit cards, but credit cards means 'loaning' money, which is not how my debit card works. Anyway, I hope I cleared that up.

It's not a story I read, it's a story I heard from a guy who I actually do trust (I don't trust many people). And people in my country aren't so... Educated, let's call it. So they don't really know about such things as Western Union and all that, the woman thought she can just send it in a letter. As to where she got the money - as far as I know, there was some kinda celebration and they met, I don't know why she was given the money. Maybe they live far away from the city and weren't going to visit it, maybe she offered to help, I don't know, and to be honest - I don't care. What I do care about is the bottom line, that anyone can snoop on your bank statement by simply clicking a button.

And I'm not worried, I simply do not feel safe. It's a feeling that you are not causing by worrying, it's a feeling that just is there. I also can't pay for everything in cash - most things that I want to buy (and going to soon) are only obtainable online. For example - certain hardware.

My debit card from a major Swiss bank (UBS) is neither of those - it's a Maestro debit card. Whether the cantonal banks in Mullhollander's list would offer Mastercard or Visa I don't know, but I doubt it. Credit cards for those yes, debits no. So you see they may not be that useable outside of Switzerland.

It's only in the last 10 years or so that credit cards have become more widely used in Switzerland. The Swiss, being thrifty people, prefer even now to use cash or debit cards rather than credit cards. It's only recently that Mastercard and Visa have been accepted at stores here, before it was usually only a store's own credit card that you could use there.


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