2nd pillar early withdrawl

Hi there,

I recently moved to a European country from Switzerland and enjoying the freedom a lot :smiley:

My question is about the 2nd pillar. I have been in contact with Axa Winthertur and the 2nd pillar central office. So far I haven’t found a solution to withdraw the funds. As it is a european country they don’t pay it out unless I have no social security/old age pension guarantee here, which I have.

I’m getting really frustrated as it is a considerable amount that I wouldn’t be able to touch in 20 years and I have no idea how it is invested right now (I have asked and didn’t receive a reply yet). I’m imagining it ending up being 0 CHF in 20 years time… :sob:

Other options:
To purchase a primary residence: I have bought an apartment already and we are not planning any renovations (one reason for a withdraw)

Starting a business: I’m considering this but haven’t understood what are the requirements exactly. Would I need to show what the money would be invested in?

Info I have found:

Anyone with experience or more knowledge about this? Appreciate any ideas.


Normally, when leaving your job, your pillar 2 contributions “go with you”: Your benefits will be wired to your new pension fund (Pensionskasse). You can alternatively designate 2 Freizuegigkeitsinstitutionen (~tempory pension funds) to park your money. The money is still locked there. However, it is there that you can decide how to invest your money.

Viac for example wants to offer this possibility around the beginning of next year (as they wrote me).

If you do not make a designation, your money goes to the pillar 2 reserve fund (Auffangeinrichtung), which does not offer good conditions (higher fees).

I am too lazy at the moment to check whether the above applies also in your situation, when leaving to a EU country.

Edit: I checked quickly: You should be able to get your “ueberobligatorischer Teil” (the money above the mandatory insured wage) out. Check the taxation aspect for this! The rest or probably all (not checked) can go to a Freizuegigkeitseinrichtung.


This should be impossible/unjustified to fear about, so no need to shed any tears about that. :slight_smile:
You can only have “missed gains”, as 2nd pillar (at least when actively employed here) has a guaranteed but very small growth per year.

As Strabor has said - if you moved to a country where there is a compulsory 2nd pillar, all that money should have moved with you there (afaik).


While that might have been true 10 or 15 years ago, they have charged no fees over the last 10 years (the exception being handling / processing early withdrawal for home ownership). And it’s still free, whereas other banks have been (re)introducing account keeping fees as of late.

On top of that, they’re currently providing one of the “highest” interest rates in the market. Basic savings account though, no stock/fund/other investment options.

That’s pretty exactly the idea about it: Funds vested and saved for retirement.
Though there are quite a few people in Switzerland who try to (and do) withdraw early - only to then apply for welfare later in life.

As long it is kept in a non-investment vested benefits account, interest are >= 0, so becomes a mere question of credit risk and future purchasing power.

The crucial document to get is a confirmation of being registered as self-employed with the AHV/AVS compensation fund. Which means you’re self-employed in Switzerland (though I think you could still be living abroad).

Otherwise it’s back to determining whether you’re liable to mandatory social insurance in EU/EFTA, according to the laws of member states. Though being self-employed de facto is often (but not always) one of the main reasons to be exempt from mandatory social insurance.


Yes it does - irrespective of a customer’s residence it goes to Auffangeinrichtung - who often have no contact with the account holder for years).

Non-mandatory part can be always be paid to EU/EFTA countries, as long as one has left Switzerland (exceptions for Liechtenstein).

Mandatory part is generally retained in Switzerland, on a vested benefits account.

Pension fund contributions, whether 1st or 2nd pillar generally don’t move between different countries’ social security systems. Though eligibility periods may be “portable” within EU/EFTA in such a fashion.


If you move to an EU or EFTA member country, the benefits must remain in Switzerland. You can have your occupational pension fund transfer them from your pension fund to up to 2 vested benefits solutions, which can be at 2 different foundations.

If you do not transfer your benefits from your occupational pension fund to a vested benefits foundation, your (former) pension fund will eventually transfer them to the Substitute Occupational Benefit Institution. You can claim them at a later date and then have them transferred to a vested benefits foundation.

There are many different vested benefits solutions available, including retirement funds and retirement accounts. I wouldn’t recommend cash value life insurance, but this is also an option. VIAC seems to offer a vested benefits solution. At least it appears that way in their web portal.

After you have left Switzerland, you can still withdraw your benefits from the vested benefits foundation at any time in keeping with the early-withdrawal rules (home purchase, self-employed, move to non-EU/EFTA country). Make sure to consider the tax implications.

If you have a serious amount of money there and the opportunity loss would be major, you could consider an interim move to a non-EU/EFTA country just for the withdrawal. If this is an option, consider transferring your benefits to a vested benefits foundation in Schwyz and then only withdrawing once you have moved. If you do that, the benefits will be taxed at the Schwyz rate rather than the rate of your current place of residence.


Very important detail. Viac isn’t located in a tax-friendly place, so I would consider transfering the assets to a different company before witbdrawing.


Agreed. VIAC would only be a sensible solution if you move to an EU/EFTA country and need to hold your benefits in Switzerland long-term. You can transfer between vested benefits foundations anytime, though. So you can use VIAC to grow wealth and then transfer to Schwyz before withdrawal.

One more thing to pay attention to is withdrawal fees. Each bank/foundation has its own fee schedule for withdrawals of vested benefits. In the case of early withdrawals for home purchases, etc. in particular, fees can be very high. It’s definitely worth comparing these when choosing vested benefits solutions. Breakdowns of withdrawal fees are included in this vested benefits account comparison:

Unfortunately, the comparison doesn’t include funds and investment fund accounts (i.e. VIAC). I imagine you can find that information somewhere though.


They would still be taxed according to the tax laws and rates of your then country/place of residency, in addition to tax at source in Schwyz (or elsewhere in CH). Which, yes, could even result in double taxation.

unless, of course, your country of residency has a favorable tax regime (low or zero rate such income) or DTA with Switzerland, allows you to reclaim CH tax at source or other tax relief.

That‘s why, strictly from a tax point of view, one shouldn’t just move to any non-EFTA country but choose wisely.

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From what I understand, the Swiss part is reimbursed if you show you declared it in your place of residence (no need for DTA).

edit: actually the form mentions DTA, so I’m not sure if it works when there’s no agreement (I thought it would).

For example for Geneva, the form is: https://www.ge.ch/document/demande-remboursement-impot-source-preleve-prestations-provenant-institutions-prevoyance-ayant-leur-siege-suisse/annexe/2

I believe it would not. As far as I know, withholding tax is generally being refundable only where and as far as a DTA allows for it for. Similar to U.S. dividend withholding taxes basically, which have been thoroughly talked about on the forum. Or, obviously, if the withholding country unilaterally decides to do so, depending on evidence.

However, this explanation by one of the larger pension funds that I could google for wuickly seems to support my understanding:

A withholding tax deduction on lump-sum benefits can be reclaimed if:
- the person making the claim lives in a country which has a double tax policy contract with reclamation possibility with Switzerland; and
· the lump-sum benefit is known to the tax authorities of the country of residence.

In practical terms though, I’d assume many (most?) developed countries will have such agreement.

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Hi guys, this discussion become so techy, I barely follow. Could you please explain me like an idiot what should I do - I have currently 25k in 2nd pillar, I’m planning to move to Poland in couple of years but I don’t trust Polish government and thus I don’t want this money to be transferred to the Polish 2nd pillar. Is it possible to leave them invested in Switzerland in some reasonable equity fund until my retirement?

Similarly with 3rd pillar. Can I leave it? In Poland it could be actually more expensive to invest this money in normal brokers than leaving them in VIAC - I haven’t checked this though. Still need to make some research.

Wow, it’s possible to withdraw the 2nd pillar to buy an apartment? Even in Poland? That would an interesting option for me as I plan to buy one in Warsaw.

It can and will never be transferred to the Polish pension fund system (unless you voluntarily withdraw money to your personal payment account and subsequently contribute to a polish pension benefit system).

Swiss pension fund benefits stay in Switzerland until you withdraw.
And yes, there vested benefits custody accounts providing access to equity funds - whether these can be considered „reasonable“ remains up for debate (expense ratio probably being a far cry from the low-cost ETFs which are popular here.

Why not?


(I am not sure if they would even be allowed to discriminate against polish residents)

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Thanks man, you made my soul peaceful. For some reason I thought that 2nd pillar is transferred automatically and there’s no way to withdraw this money. Now it seems there’s lot of possibilities to make sensible use of it. I have to rethink my strategy.

One doubt that I still have is whether to invest in VIAC and withdraw it later for apartment purchase in Poland (together with 2nd pillar) or rather stick to VT at IB with all my money and close it all before moving to Poland (to prevent Polish capital gains tax), then move with cash and start new life and new investments there (buying apartment for myself, another for rent and putting rest in a new fund at new broker).

As far as I remember VIAC is beneficial short term due to tax savings, but not long term due to ER and cost differences.

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Well, I don’t know the law in Poland, but in some countries you can harvest capital gains. So there is a maximum capital gains number where you don’t pay taxes and you put every year a buy and sell ordering same time to just sell that amount and buy it same price. And if your realized capital gains for that year are lower than the max amount, you don’t pay taxes. And next year you have lower unrealized capital gains.

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