Banking and currency

Living in Europe | Access to the culture of the host country/language courses, Banking | Switzerland


In order to open a Swiss bank account, you will need your passport and residence permit. This means that you cannot open an account immediately on arrival, so make sure you have either adequate cash or an ATM card from your bank at home.

Banks are usually open from 9 am to 5 pm. ATMs can be found almost everywhere.

Paying bills

Usually you have to pay the bill within 10 to 30 days. Afterwards you often have to pay a 5% p.a. penalty.

Bills are paid in Switzerland by means of slips of orange or red paper with the payee, payer, amount due and bank account information. These can be handled through your bank, if you have an account (mailed in, fed into special machines on the bank premises, or paid online - ask the teller for help) or also very easily by going to any post office with enough cash to cover the bill. You give the cash to the teller and the money is posted to the account of the person or company on the bill. You will receive a stamped receipt verifying payment.


Swiss banknotes and coins

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) conducts the country’s monetary policy as an independent central bank. Switzerland’s currency is the Swiss franc (CHF) comprising 100 centimes. The smaller denomination, which is worth a hundredth of a franc, is called "rappen" in German, "centime" in French and "centesimo" in Italian.

New bills have been edited with new pictures but the coulours are the same.

  • Banknotes: CHF 1'000, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10

  • Coins: CHF 5, 2, 1 and 50, 20, 10 and 5 centimes

In addition to the Swiss franc, euros are often accepted, usually in bigger cities or large international stores. The change will be returned in Swiss francs (often with a bad exchange rate). Credit cards are accepted in most shops and restaurants.