Geneva cross-border worker and ETFs

Hi All,

I’m a complete beginner who has never dabbled with investing before, but I would like to make our savings work for us and not just sit in a bank. I’ve got a question specific to cross-border workers though: we work in Geneva and live in France; tax residency is in France, so that’s a key difference to almost everyone on this forum as far as I can tell.

I’ve opened a account as that is where my place of work is and CHF is the currency of my salary account. However, in my reading I’ve now seen that it’s apparently better to invest on a platform and in the currency of your place of tax residence, so in our case that would mean I should really have opened a account and invest in EUR. Any thoughts as to the validity/truth of that please?

I’m planning a simple buy-and-hold, passive ETF strategy to use for the next 25-30yrs until retirement; investing probably 1000chf per month. I will definitely not be trading on individual stocks as I know I won’t be any good at that/I’m not enough of a gambler :slight_smile:
We came to the Geneva area for work and, once we retire, we will move on, most likely to elsewhere in France. With that in mind, based on lots of reading on here and elsewhere, I am thinking of simply getting VWRL (IE00B3RBWM25) which is available on, but it’s available in CHF on SWX, in EUR on EAM, XET and MIL and in GBP on the LSE.
So discounting the LSE, I’m just not sure if I should get it in CHF (since the funds are coming from my CHF account linked to degiro) or whether I should get it in EUR from one of the 3 available exchanges (due to my tax domiciliation) and, if so, then which would be best?

There are probably tax considerations to take into account; I haven’t been able to find a financial advisor to give advice on this dual-country, cross-border situation. However, I’m hoping that these questions might just be very basic things and you can point me in the right general direction until I’m able to get some professional tax advice.

Thanks a lot!

Probably best to ask in something like r/vosfinances, taxes will make the advice very different.

It is worth looking into that though.
France has very particular tax treaties with Switzerland depending on which canton you work in.
For instance,

  • someone living in France but working in Basel will pay his taxes in France
  • Someone living in France but working in Aarau/Zurich will pay his taxes in Switzerland, thus benefitting of a high salary, low taxes and lower cost of life.

It is not a very well-known fact but i have many colleagues living in France (Saint Louis) and commuting to Zurich to take advantage of this tax treaty. It is worth checking how it is in canton Geneva.

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That is a good idea, will do so thanks!

There is a treaty between Geneva and France: the income tax on our salaries is withheld at source and then the due amount is transferred to France directly by the Geneva authorities. Due to the double-taxation agreement between the countries, we don’t pay any tax on our salary income in France. However, in legal/financial terms, we are still tax resident in France…so we do get the benefit of higher salaries and lower cost of living…but a lot more paperwork and bureaucracy to go with it too! :wink:

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How is that going for you? I imagine that you’ve moved your account to

If you are a French tax resident by défaut, you will account for a 30% tax (13% tax+ 17% social contributions) on your dividends or benefits when selling the etf.
You can open a French 3rd pillar named Plan Epargne Action (PEA) that will allow you to buy and sell without taxes until you withdraw from the account. The maximum deposit is 150ke.
You can open 1 to an online French broker (Bourse Direct, BforBank, Boursorama…). After 5 years you will only pay social contributions but no taxes.
While living in France most of US ETF won’t be available in the French broker sue to mifid 2 regulations. I expect the same behaviour in

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@GenevaFIRE I’m in the same situation as you. I wonder what you['ve decided to do in the end?

Where I’ve got to is that I still contribute to a swiss 3a (with VIAC) as you can claim the 3a contribution against your tax at source in Geneva.

I also have a french PEA with Bourse Direct where I save any extra. You can only invest in PEA eligible funds but there are some ETFs available that replicate US ETFs. For example Lyxor PEA S&P 500 ETF Capi

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