8 Easy Tips For Paying Bills in Switzerland
Switzerland is an incredibly efficient and forward-thinking country. This is certainly evident when it comes to paying bills in Switzerland where internet banking, online payments and telephone banking are all common place. However, older more traditional payment options like paying in a bank, paying through the post office, cheques (by actual snail mail!) are still available due to the growing age of the Swiss population which has a life expectancy above the UK average.
For most household bills (rent, banking, utilities, services) you’ll be issued a payment slip. This carries all the information required to make payment, which can then be done by a number of methods. Payment slips are either orange or red (the difference is the amount of data printed on the slip).
Just like UK banking, the fastest, easiest way to pay bills is via direct debit. This is the system that allows you to give instruction to your bank to allow a company to obtain payment electronically for regular bills.
Increasingly common, more and more people are switching to online banking to pay bills or set up direct debits. To do either, you’ll need the information provided on the payment slip. You can set up online banking using a computer, tablet or smartphone.
Paying At The Post Office
Post offices are the same the world over, no matter what time you arrive you’ll find a queue (and invariably a person in front of you with a large jar of pennies needing to be counted out!). Once again, you’ll need the details on the payment slip, then queue, wait, wait a bit longer, job done.
Paying by cheque
Yes, you remember those old pieces of actual paper? You used to see them tucked inside Christmas and birthday cards from older relatives. They are gradually being phased out in most European countries but Switzerland currently still accepts cheques as payment. And they can be sent through the post.
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Automated banking machines (ATMs) can be found at banks, some shops and service stations and many allow you to make automated payments. The machines offer English speaking options, however you will need a recognised, accepted bank (not all ATMs recognise all overseas banks).
Paying On Time
In Switzerland things really do tend to run like clockwork, transport, infrastructure, utilities, government/financial institutions are all very timely. As such, things like late payments are picked up extremely quickly. If you do have an issue that result in having to make payment late, then contact the company in question as early as possible. Even better (if possible) to notify them in advance.
Opening A Bank Account
It’s possible to open a Swiss bank account as a non-Swiss citizen once you’re registered to live in the country. You’ll need;
- A valid passport
- Proof of income – A bank statement if you’re already being paid or a copy of your employment contract.
- Proof of address/residency (they might choose to send some mail to your address to verify this).
You can open an account before moving to Switzerland but you will need to get your documents notarized. The two main banks are UBS and Credit Suisse. If you are moving to Switzerland, in some instances it can make life a little easier to have a localised bank account.