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Type of Bank Accounts

All banks in switzerland operate in world class standards. Apart from that, staff working in swiss banks are very famous for their knowledge and expertise in banking. The Swiss banking system are rooted on the concept of universal banking, as a single bank can offer a diversified range of banking services. This means that a single bank can provide all banking services, such as: 

  • Credit/lending Business 

  • Asset management and Investment advice 

  • Payment Transactions 

  • Deposits in the form of Savings Accounts, etc. 

  • Stock Exchange Transactions 

  • Issuing of Bonds etc. 

These universal features are disabled in the banking sectors of various countries and commercial banking and investment banking tend to be in separate form. Swiss banks have earned a great reputation worldwide for providing sophisticated and discrete banking services. There are about 400 banks in Switzerland. Credit Suisse and UBS are the two big banks in switzerland, having extensive branch networks both throughout Switzerland and in many international centers. UBS AG and the Credit Suisse Group - together account for over 50% of the balance sheet total of all banks in Switzerland. Banks are licensed by the Swiss Federal Government through its Banking Commission, and operate throughout the country. Most of the banks in switzerland offer the following common types of bank accounts for foreign customers.


Savings or Postal Account 

This is a very common type of bank account, which you have heard about. These accounts comes with powerful internet banking access and requires no minimum deposit for customers. It is very easy to open account entirely online, provided you show proof of your proper identification from your country of residence. Corporate or joint accounts also possible, provided relevent papers are shown to the bank. Normally swiss banks ask for proof of identity with apostille and documentation for your incoming funds or economic origin of funds. For example, If you are salaried person, you can show your monthly salary certificate. It is worth to note a point that banks MUST be convinced that your money is free from illegally obtained.

Private banks offering private account

Private banks are the banks mostly owned by individuals assuming unlimited liability, who can take their own decisions on their bank and also personally liable for their assets in banks commitment mostly focus on asset protection and investment activities. Private banks are among the oldest banks in Switzerland offer accounts primarily for private clients. Never think of entering a private bank in switzerland, if your deposit is less than $1 million. The oldest private bank in Switzerland is Bank Wegelin & Co, founded in 1741. In Geneva, the oldest one is Darier Hentsch & Cie, founded in 1796, followed in 1798 by Lombard, Odier & Cie. The “youngest” one is Mourgue d’Algues & Cie, founded in 1869. 


Swiss Dormant Accounts

It might happen that when the account holder dies without leaving any trail of his contact details for a long time,specially in times of sudden death, the bank would try to establish contact with the client without violating secrecy law. Should the banks search turn into an unsuccessful one, it would wait for atleast 10 years to hear from the account holder. If this also fails, then the bank will change the status of bank account from 'active' to 'dormant' and special provisions apply. If the account holder had nominated a beneficiary on account of his death, then the assets held will be transferred to the named beneficiary. The descendents can also claim the 'dormant' assets if they know where exactly the assets were held and which bank. Normally bank would ask for some paper work like death certificate etc. of the account holder. Ironically, the real problem is, it is very difficult to locate a particular bank account, in switzerland as there are about 400 banks in switzerland. You cannot just simply walk into a bank and ask 'Whether this person X is having an account with you?'. There are a list of dormant account holder names published in

To make a search on dormant assets held in accounts opened with Swiss banks by non-Swiss nationals or residents after May 9, 1945 please contact the Ombudsman of the Swiss Banks is an impartial source of information and an intermediary whose services are free of charge. 

Swiss Banking Ombudsman
Schweizergasse 21
P.O. Box 1818
CH-8021 Zurich
Tel.: (011) 411 - 213 14 50 
Fax: (011) 411 - 210 37 20
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If someone suspects that he or she might be entitled to assets held by a Swiss bank, but does not know which one, a search can be initiated through the Contact Office attached to the Ombudsman. A search questionnaire can be obtained from:

Contact Office for the Swiss Banks
P.O. Box 1818
CH-8021 Zurich

Numbered or Coded swiss account

This is the most famous highly private account conceals the identity of the client holding the account owned by big millionaires, business lords, and many eminent personalities worldwide. Numbered accounts (or pseudonym accounts) omits reference to the customer's name or other identifying information, replacing it with a code number or the pseudonym name chosen by the user of the account. All the transactions made in the form of cheques, ATM cards, billing statements show the chosen number or pseudonym name replacing the true name of the account holder. Normally a personal visit to the bank is required, either before or after opening the account. Please note that there is no such thing called 'anonymous' numbered accounts' in switzerland. The identity of the client is always known to the bank, but limited to very few higher level bank officials and they are all bound by bank secrecy law. Numbered accounts have become very expensive in switzerland, and would require a account holder to hold a minimum balance of US$200'000 or more. This account hence otherwise also known as Named account or Pseudonym accounts.





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