Keeping a Swiss brokerage after retiring abroad

Since I’m planning on investing my savings at CornerBank, I was curious as to what would happen if I moved abroad when I retire and potentially lose my C permit. I called them and they said that with very few exceptions at the moment (e.g. Austria, Italy, Japan), that would not be an issue. I’d just need to sign a disclaimer to acknowledge that data can be shared with my host country.

I’m curious to hear about your experiences, and whether this matches what you’ve heard so far.


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Hi Pedro,

Your question isn’t so clear to me but from your question I do guess you’re not Swiss citizen, right?
1st. do you mean general savings opening a Trading account in Corner Bank?
2nd. do you mean 3rd pillar accounts?

Never the less, in both cases, once you decide to leave the country (definitely) you will need to close your banks accounts and of course you can transfer that money abroad.

3rd, 2nd and evan AVS pillars accounts can be claimed as well and it will depend on which country you’re moving to. If it’s a country with some kind of pensions agreement with Switzerland (most of the EU) the money will be transferred to your countries’ personal retirement account. But… if you’re moving to a country that doesn’t have this type of agreement that money can be transferred to a personal bank account becoming instant cash :slight_smile:

So, could you be more specific on your question?


Hi Erik, you’re right, I’m not a Swiss citizen (hence the mention of the C permit). I realize now I wrote CornèrBank in the OP when I meant CornèrTrader :-/ My question to them was what would happen if I held ETFs at CornèrTrader and I wanted to keep them there once I left Switzerland. He said it was no problem, even if I wasn’t a Swiss citizen and would lose my C permit after leaving. So do you think he didn’t know what he was saying, and I should ask for a second opinion?

as far as i remember with CT when opening the account you’re not even required to be a resident in CH. i believe your contact to have been right when he told you that there’s not much of a change except for that disclaimer you have to sign. conversely they actually will help you move your assets to another broker if you want to do that when leaving the country.


Hi Erik,
If you are a swiss citizen and decide to retire in a different country, can you keep your 3a and the rest of investments in ch?

Hi @Mobius, this is a very interesting question. I also have an account at Corner Trader. Can you tell me, when you decide to retire, why do you think Switzerland will not extend your C permit? After all, you will be keeping your wealth here. Why would they kick you out? And if they would, what if, a few months before the expiration of the current C permit you would come back and find a job, just to the the permit renewed? I’m asking myself these questions. Maybe, at some point, it would be nice to gain the Swiss citizenship. I don’t know how hard would that be.

If Corner Trader decided to kick you out after you changed your domicile, and you needed to transfer your securities to another country, then you could be forced to pay capital gains tax. I wonder what is the common practice among small mustachians/bogleheads, who have saved up to 1 million and don’t want pay taxes 5 times for the same money.

There’s no capital gains tax to pay on stocks in Switzerland under normal circumstances. In other countries maybe, that’s why you should maybe just sell everything before you leave to leave no room for surprises with your new country

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I don’t even know how capital gains count. Is it the difference between sell price and buy price? What if I bought 20 years ago? Even if you do as you wrote, you will still need to buy some stock again with the new domicile. Then, as you withdraw, you would be hit by the tax.

Yes, in a typical situation sell price minus original buy price, or more generally cost basis/book value (e.g. for real estate, value-adding renovations increase it, depreciation tax write offs decreases it in case of a company)

If you have to pay capital gains, normally capital losses would be then also deductible and decrease your taxes.

So what? Transaction costs are tiny compared to potential capital gains taxes, practically next to nothing if you trade US stocks with a proper discount broker.

You would be off the market for some time during the move though, that’s a larger risk than worrying about transaction costs

But buy+sell would reset cost basis and you would owe taxes on gains for a much shorter period of time in your new jurisdiction rather than on 20 years of gains.

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OK I get it. But are you sure it is like this? If I buy shares today for 100 and in 20 years I sell for 1000, I will have capital gains of 900? Are you sure it doesn’t count from the start of year?

Yes. Whether there are discounts for long term holding depends on jurisdiction. In US for example holding a stock for more than a year qualifies you for long term capital gains tax of 15% or so, whereas short term gains are taxed much more heavily as ordinary income. But they will still tax you on gains all the way from the original buy, even if it was 20 years ago and in different country

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Huge capital gains tax on gains accumulated over decades is the reason for example why Berkshire doesn’t sell KO even though it’s become a drag on their portfolio. Or why instead of selling their share in PG they acquired Duracell from them in tax neutral all stock deal.

Theoretical question: Would it be possible to:

  1. Buy shares in a country with CGT
  2. After a couple of years move to a country without CGT (e.g. CH)
  3. Sell shares without paying CGT?

Scenario 2:

  1. Buy shares in a country without CGT (Switzerland)
  2. Move to a country with CGT (Poland)
  3. Move again to a country without CGT (Switzerland)
  4. Sell shares without paying CGT?

Normally the taxable event is the sale, and tax is payable on realized capital gains, so if you make sure you’re not a tax resident of a CGT levying country when you sell, I think you should be fine.

Rules concerning tax residence can be complex and unintuitive (e.g. US has substantial presence test going as far as into 3 years of your past stays) and you can be a tax resident of multiple countries at the same time and owe taxes to all of them, with reliefs per their tax treaties


Fortunately in Poland you become tax resident if you spend more than 180 days a year there. So I guess it’s fairly easy to escape the taxation - just spend less 180 days in Poland.

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Did a quick googling - looks like in Canada or South Africa you’d be liable for taxes on unrealized capital gains upon emigration. So do the research on your particular destination before you go. And the general advice of selling everything before you leave Switzerland, ideally before the tax year of emigration starts, still stands

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@hedgehog thanks. I’ve been thinking, if you keep your tax domicile in Switzerland, but travel the World, do you have to worry at all? In Poland, it is common to rent a flat without any contract. There is Schengen, so there is no track of you crossing the border. How would anyone tell that you are not living in Switzerland, but indeed in Poland?

I bet there are other countries with beneficial tax systems, where rich people pay their taxes, while travelling freely, or? I mean, it works for corporations, why would it not work for people? Corporations are notorious for being registered in a tax haven and not paying taxes in the country where they de facto generate their income.

There are no borders in shengen anymore and checks are unlikely, but legally you’re still not allowed to stay for more than 90 days at a time without formally registering as a resident

Swiss also have a law that you lose residence if you leave for longer than 6 months. Of course noone routinely checks that you actually live all the time in Switzerland but it can be used against you if they find out. Air travel is especially easily trackable for example