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Leaving Switzerland

Bank accounts

Some people may be interested in keeping their Swiss bank accounts open when they leave the country. This may be to diversify their cash holdings, to benefit from holding a hard currency in a safe jurisdiction, to receive rent and/or make home loan repayments on a Swiss property etc.

Whilst it may be possible to keep your Swiss banking arrangements in place when you leave the country it is important to ask your individual bank for advice before leaving. Their decision will likely depend on your nationality, your new residential local and your new employment and/or employer.

If your bank does allow your accounts to remain open, in most cases, they will likely begin to charge you non-resident fees when you leave – these will be higher than fees applicable when you are residing in Switzerland.

Some banks may not terminate your account when you leave, but they may restrict the services that have previously been offered – credit card facilities for example. Again, it is important to ask your provider.

Leaving Switzerland?

Whether you are planning to leave Switzerland on a temporary or a permanent basis it is important to understand your options and obligations.

For most people, during their employment in Switzerland, they will have built up reserves of cash, social contributions and various pension pots. On departure, there will be various options to consider.

Receiving the pension

The first distinction to make is whether you are a citizen of the EU, EFTA or a country that Switzerland has a bilateral social security agreement with. If this is the case then you will be eligible to receive the government pension once you reach retirement age. 

Normal retirement age is 64 for women and 65 for men. However, you may draw your OASI pension up to two years before this age. You may also defer receiving benefits for up to five years after normal retirement age. Both options will have an effect on the pensionable amount you would receive. You are not able to reclaim contributions made into the scheme at any time, only benefits from the scheme.

If you are not a citizen of a country listed above and are leaving Switzerland permanently then you may have the right to receive back all of the contributions that you have made (both from your side as well as your employers) during your employment in Switzerland. If this is the case then please contact your financial advisor before leaving the country to understand your options.

Pension: Government (OASI)

In most instances a persons Pillar 1 contributions will end when they leave Switzerland. There may, however, be exceptions to this rule. For some people there could be a significant benefit in continuing to contribute to both the Old Age and Survivors Insurance scheme (OASI) and the Disability Insurance (DI), which could allow them to receive a full government pension upon retirement and remain protected against disability whilst they remain working.

To have the option of paying into and receiving benefit from both schemes when you leave the country certain restrictions apply. You would need to either be a Swiss citizen or a citizen of an EU or EFTA (European Free Trade Association) country or of a country which Switzerland has a bilateral social security agreement with( Also, you must be registered with the Swiss social security system (AHV/AVS) and have been contributing to the scheme for a least five years without interruption. 

Finally, the country that you are moving to cannot be within the EU, EFTA or a country that Switzerland has a bilateral social security agreement with.If the above applies then you may have the option to keep making OASI and DI contributions. This is a fixed amount per year, based on your annual income, and is set at a percentage of your salary. It is important to remember that, unlike when you are resident in Switzerland, this contribution would likely not be tax deductible. 

As Switzerland does provide a high level of protection (disability and pension) this is an important area to consider when you begin planning to leave the country. It is always best to seek the advice of your financial advisor on all matters before you leave.

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