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Expat rights Government: Swiss Abroad entitled to Switzerland’s best banking offers

A man uses the ATM outside a bank in Cyprus.

There are 775,000 Swiss living abroad.

(Keystone)

Swiss citizens living abroad must have the most complete and up-to-date access possible to offers from the Swiss banking sector, the government has said in response to parliamentary complaints. But the onus is on the banks, not the state, to provide this information.

The possibility for 775,000 Swiss living abroad to maintain a banking relationship with a financial institution in Switzerland has preoccupied parliamentarians for months. An account in Switzerland is required, for example, to take out health insurance, contribute to the country’s pension scheme, cover the expenses of stays in Switzerland or manage income and expenses related to a property.

The Senate would like for Swiss Abroad to be guaranteed the option of an account in a large Swiss bank on reasonable terms. The House of Representatives buried this motion.

The foreign policy committee is advocating a more flexible option. It suggests the executive body ensures that “too big to fail” institutions make information available to Swiss living abroad so they can easily open an account and maintain a banking relationship in Switzerland.

Expat preparations

The committee says it is a question of helping Swiss citizens prepare for expat life, making them aware of problems that might arise and informing them of how to solve any potential disputes with the bank.

In addition, all necessary data should be clearly presented on the websites of the Swiss representations abroad and foreign ministry.

That is where the problem lies: informing customers of the commercial conditions of private companies is not part of the state’s remit, argued the government in its response published on Thursday.

The foreign ministry, however, said it would do its utmost and liaise with the Swiss Bankers Association to ensure that the Swiss Abroad are better informed. Different organisations were already publishing information on the subject, the government pointed out.

SDA-ATS/ds

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