According to first enquiries a basic online bank account is apparently available from CHF 6/month. The terms and conditions depend on the individual circumstances of the applicant and interested Swiss Abroad in Oceania are urged to make their own enquiries directly with the bank.
While this can be viewed as a very positive development, time will tell how sucessful it will be in practice. If you have any experience to share – positive or negative, please contact your delegates. We are very keen to gather as much information as possible from Swiss Abroad wishing to establish a bank account with BCGE.
Since 2008 it has become increasingly difficult for the Swiss Abroad to open or maintain a bank account in Switzerland within reasonable conditions.
The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) has undertaken several interventions in order to find a solution to this problem, which affects a considerable number of Swiss citizens abroad.
For one the OSA has intervened directly with the banks, and indirectly through the Swiss Bank Association, the Association of State Banks (Kantonalbanken), the Swiss Banking Ombudsman and the Federal Department of Finance. The OSA also contacted the price-supervisor who conducted an investigation into the banking conditions for Swiss Abroad.
Several parliamentary interventions were submitted and the OSA has given statements to legal consultations. Unfortunately, on 4 May 2017, the National Council has narrowly rejected a motion by Roland Rino Büchel (SVP/SG). The move demanded that all Swiss Abroad be allowed to open a bank account with a Swiss system-relevant bank.
Within a very short time, numerous complaints about discriminatory business practices were submitted by Swiss abroad, media presence was sought by the OSA directorate and two new parliamentary interventions were lodged. One was to oblige banks to publish relevant information, data on bank expenses, interest rates and other offers, on the websites of the foreign ministry and Switzerland’s diplomatic representations abroad for the Swiss overseas communities. The other parliamentary motion demanded that PostFinance, the banking arm of the state-run Post Office, should be obliged to provide equal services to all Swiss citizens, regardless of where they live.
Both motions were approved in the first instance but were defeated in the House of Representatives in June 2018. Despite yet another disappointing setback, it is encouraging that more and more federal parliamentarians seem to be willing to listen – maybe also with a view to the upcoming federal elections in 2019.
The problem remains unresolved and our struggle will continue. If you are a Swiss citizen in our region of Oceania and you are affected by the banking problem, we CSA Oceania want to hear from you. Please share your experience with us, so that we can be a strong voice in Bern.
To establish a basic overview of the conditions applied by financial institutions in Switzerland for Swiss clients abroad, the OSA has conducted a survey in November 2016.
Saturday, 5 October saw the ‘Young Swiss Citizen Celebration’ being held for the fourth time in Melbourne. 13 young Swiss who recently celebrated their 18th birthday, and thus became fully-fletched Swiss citizens, followed the invitation by the Hon. Consul, Manuela Erb, to a luncheon at the Swiss Club of Victoria. They were accompanied by families and friends.
CSA elections in 2021: because the Swiss e-voting systems are on hold until further notice, direct election via e-voting of the CSA delegates (as per pilot projects in Australia and Mexico in 2016) will not be possible. The CSA Delegates in Australia will have the job to organise the next elections without certainty of assistance at this stage. Importance is given to umbrella organisations in countries where they exist, which will have the task to organise fair and democratic elections. Default solution is the ‘old System’ each country carried in the past.
The 50th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Summit took place in Tuvalu from 13 to 16 August, 2019.
Switzerland is a success story, but it will have to evolve under fast changing international conditions. Therefore, foreign policy will become more important for Switzerland’s prosperity and security. Starting from these reflections, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis established the AVIS28 working group in 2018 with the aim to define a coherent and adaptive foreign policy vision for Switzerland for 2028. AVIS28 is a source of inspiration and new ideas, and at the same time, it should initiate a broad discussion on the future of Swiss foreign policy. Switzerland needs the courage to change. Its foreign policy must become more focused, networked and agile. Switzerland should also work more closely with like-minded states, like Australia and New Zealand, towards their common goals.
A lot has happened lately with regards to e-voting. There has been growing resistance and a fair bit of scare-mongering in Switzerland regarding the introduction of e-voting. Whilst the advantages are obvious to the government and the Swiss Abroad, sceptics argue that the trust in the democratic process is compromised due to e-security uncertainty and the cost of developing a secure system is also a concern. Earlier this year, a broad alliance of political parties has been collecting signatures for a popular initiative. Their aim is to ban the introduction of e-voting for at least five years.
The Consulate General of Switzerland in Sydney and the Embassy of Switzerland in Wellington inform that they plan to visit the following cities with the mobile passport station:
• Auckland (May)
• Northland (May – only if sufficient interest)
• Perth (first half of April)
• Melbourne (October)
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 13 June 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) representing the interests of 751,800 compatriots living abroad, is disappointed that the Council of States today rejected Motion 17.3626 by 30 votes to 9 with 4 abstentions. The Council of States has decided not to follow the majority of its Foreign Policy Commission (APK-S) and has rejected a motion calling on PostFinance to accept Swiss Abroad on similar terms as citizens residing in Switzerland. The problem that has existed for our compatriots living abroad for ten years remains unresolved.
OSA PRESS RELEASE: Bern, 30 May 2018 – The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) is relieved that the Council of States has today decided to follow the recommendation of its Commission on Social Security and Health (SGK-S) to delete the amendment to Article 4 (1) in the context of the supplementary benefits reform. This means that the current rules remain in place. Last March, the National Council approved an application whereby Swiss Abroad would have had to pay social security contributions (AHV) for at least ten years in order to qualify for supplementary benefits, which would have discriminated against Swiss Abroad.
On 10 March 2018, at he CSA meeting in Bern, the executive of the OSA announced that it had entered into a partnership with the Geneva Cantonal Bank (BCGE).
More information is available under the topic Swiss Banks.
The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) would like to know about difficulties you have encountered in the area of health insurance and the practical problems that you face as a Swiss person living abroad. This may be of specific relevance to those living temporarily in the Oceania region or those in need for travel insurance when visiting Switzerland. By the same token, if you have had positive experiences or wish to share good practices, please do so!
The purpose is to look at ways of improving the situation of Swiss people living abroad in this regard.
You can send your experiences and suggestions to us delegates and/or directly to the head office in Bern: email@example.com
The Swiss Parliament voted for the Introduction of Automatic Exchange of Information with New Zealand. A summary and comments by Peter Ehrler, New Zealand Member of the Council of the Swiss Abroad.
On 27 September, the National Council (Nationalrat) followed the recommendation from the Economic Commission of the Lower House and rejected implementing the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) with New Zealand. The majority of the members are of the opinion that the Swiss in New Zealand are disadvantaged over other Swiss living abroad, because of the Swiss pension (AHV) being confiscated by the New Zealand Government.