International money transfers: How to send money to & from Switzerland

International money transfers: How to send money to & from Switzerland

One of the things that expats in Switzerland will need to think about is transferring funds from a bank account abroad to a Swiss bank account, or vice versa. Perhaps you need the funds to rent an apartment or buy a house in Switzerland, or maybe you want to ensure your family and kids are financially secure. Regardless of your reason for transferring money, the same general guidelines apply. 

Sending money to and from Switzerland via online bank transfers

Traditional banks often charge large fees to transfer funds internationally. So, it is no surprise that wiring money abroad via an online money transfer service is becoming more popular, as it is fast, secure and inexpensive.

Popular money transfer services & providers in Switzerland

These companies offer highly competitive rates on online money transfers in Switzerland and abroad:

How to send money abroad from Switzerland

Online money transfer services can save you time and money. There is no need to visit your bank in person. Instead, you can simply open up your laptop, mobile phone or tablet and wire the money with a simple few clicks, using your chosen online money transfer service.

How to send and receive money from abroad

Here's how you can send money online:

Open an account online

Once you have decided which online transfer service you want to use, opening an account is simple. Just enter a few necessary details on their website, such as your email and date of birth. Most online transfer services in Switzerland will also need to verify your identity by scanning your ID or conducting an identification phone call.

Choose amount and delivery add-ons / options

You then need to provide some details about the transaction you wish to make. This may include how much you want to send, where you want to send the money, and in which currency. Some providers may also offer special services and add-ons that could speed up the money transfer or provide extra layers of security.

Adding the recipient's details

It goes without saying that you will not only have to add your own details but those of your intended recipient, such as their name and account number. So, be sure you have these details at the ready.


Once you have provided the necessary information, you can pay the money to your chosen transfer company via credit or debit card or via a regular bank transfer. Bear in mind that bank transfers may require additional security such as an IBAN number or SecureSign confirmation. To make sure the money gets to the right place, it is possible you may need to enter a special reference number.

Completing the transfer

Your chosen service will start transferring the funds once it receives your payment. The transfer may take a couple of days, depending on which service you choose. Once the recipient has received the money, you will get a notification through email, phone or postal order.

How long do money transfers take in Switzerland?

Due to the secure nature of Swiss banks and money transfers services, the transfer of funds can take anywhere between a day to a week. Often, bank-to-bank transfers take longer, especially if you are transferring money outside of Switzerland. Cash transfer options such as Western Union can take just a couple of minutes, although may be more expensive.

Bear in mind that most services in Switzerland do not perform transfers on the weekend, so if you request a transfer late on Friday, a weekend or during a holiday, expect the transfer to be completed on the following Monday at the earliest.

Price of sending money abroad: Markup, rates and fees

The total cost of a money transfer in Switzerland is dependent on the following factors:

  • How quickly you want to send your money
  • The size of the payment / deposit
  • Which currencies you are using and the exchange rate at the time of the transfer
  • Bank or transfer company service fees

Always check the costs before agreeing to a transfer. Occasionally, a company will charge low fees, but at a higher exchange rate. So, be vigilant when choosing your transfer service.

How do money transfer markups work?

Markups are additional charges a transfer provider may put on top of an exchange rate, an example could be: If the interbank exchange rate for Swiss francs to euros is 1,113, for example, and a certain service is offering 1,083, they are charging a markup of 0,03 euros per franc - the equivalent of 2,69 percent, before service fees and additional commissions are even added. This is how money transfer services make the majority of their profit.

How to get the most competitive exchange rates 

If you want to get the best exchange rates possible, it’s a good idea to survey your options. As well as using a price comparison tool, you should always make sure to look at the total amount the recipient will get, to make sure they get the best deal. Try to avoid locations or services that have a monopoly, such as in rare currencies or in airports.

Foreign currency transfers abroad: How do they work?

If you would like to save cash when you are sending money to and from Switzerland, here are some important tips and tricks:

Send large amounts

Companies will often charge less for larger transfers of money, in some cases lowering exchange rates and additional costs for particularly large sums. 

Pick slow and steady over fast and expensive

Choosing a quicker transfer package will be more expensive than those that take longer. If you have time, it pays to plan ahead and choose the slower service.

Minimum money transfer amounts

Most transfer companies have a minimum limit for money transfers, especially for payments to / from abroad. Check ahead to see whether your company does transfers in the size you need.

Consider transfer options

If you have time to spare, some brokers will offer you the chance to shop around for the optimal exchange rate, so your money only gets sent when this optimal rate is achieved. This can save you a lot of cash!

From “AUD to CHF” and "CHF to INR” and to “Euro to CHF" and “CHF to Zar”

One of the benefits of online money transfers are the number of currencies you can transfer to. As well as from dollars and pounds to Swiss francs and vice versa, you can exchange money into other global currencies such as "CAD to Swiss franc”, "RAND to Swiss franc”, "Zloty to Swiss franc” "HUF to Swiss franc”, "Swiss franc to Rupiah”, "Swiss franc to Zar” and many many more.

Other services provided by international money exchanges

As well as providing flexible and comprehensive deals on sending / receiving foreign currencies, international exchange providers also offer:

  • Real-time currency comparisons
  • Transfer tips on when / where to send your money
  • Currency charts
  • Rate alerts for optimum exchanges
  • Currency converters
  • Handy glossaries on important information

Self-employed, entrepreneur and business transfers & international payments

Are you an entrepreneur or hope to start a business in Switzerland? To get yourself started, you may need to send money to the alpine nation. You could use your business bank account, but a foreign exchange provider might offer competitive rates for business transfers, so it is worth looking into before going with a bank.

Are there any other ways to send money abroad?

If you don't want to send your money via the world wide web, there are also alternate ways to transfer your money overseas, each with its own benefits and concessions. These are:

  • Bank transfer: Banks often charge flat rates for international transfers, but the rates can be higher if you're not an account holder.
  • Cash pickup service: Cash pickup services allow the recipient to pick up cash from a designated location. 
  • Mobile money: A growing number of apps allow users to receive, store and spend money via their mobile phones.

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