Leaving Switzerland, but most likely only temporarily

Hello there! My husband and I are on a B permit and he has been offered a job in Sweden. We plan to accept the job as it is a good opportunity, but we would like to come back to Switzerland in a few years time.

Do you have any advice / tips on what to do with our 2nd and 3rd pillars, investments etc? I assume that we don’t have much say about what to do with our second pillar, but could we just keep the third pillar where it is (with VIAC) for a few years?

Same applies to our DeGiro account, I don’t see an issue with just keeping it as it is for now.

Thanks!

Nothing much to say except that you can move your 2nd Pillars Vested benefits to Viac or FinPension to invest it in the stock market.

2 Likes

Not if Sweden requires them to transfer 2nd pillar there (as do most EU countries).
There might be some leeway with mandatory/non-mandatory split.

1 Like

If they have such a system of 2nd pillar (I think they do).
Actually, there is no other way than own research to see how it is working the specific case.

Normally, 3a accounts are only available for residents, meaning you should cash it out. How it is working with 2nd pillar (has to be put on Freizügigkeit, transferred to Sweden or other) has to be checked individually.

Unfortunately, the disparity and non compatibility of systems make it difficult. Noone is thinking about crossborder moving when setting it up.

1 Like

oh that’s interesting! I’m not very interested in the 0.01% interest that I’ve seen on some comparison websites!

2 Likes

Do you have a source? My understanding is that you can decide if you keep it or close it when moving abroad.

1 Like

You are actually right, my bad.
The only thing is to know, if the gains and the wealth will be still tax free.
Säule 3a bei Wegzug ins Ausland – finpension.

Here finpension states so, but since you are not taxable in Switzerland anymore, local rules should apply, and I am pretty sure finpension did not check the law of every country. It will be tax free for Swiss authorities for sure (no Verrechnungssteuer), but outside, to be checked case by case in my opinion.

What is sure tough is that you are not allowed to pay into the account as long as you are abroad.

You can suspend the permit up to 4 years if I remember correctly

Only possible with C permits, but OP is on B permit.

I would check very thoroughly that 2nd/2rd pillar doesn’t have to be transferred to the new country, especially not to social welfare paradise countries such as Sweden/Norway, etc. where you can’t be sure what you will see again from that money if you leave the country again.

i am very sure that the 2nd pillar stays in Switzerland if I move to a EU country - I have the option to withdraw the non-mandatory amount in cash, which would have some tax implications, but I can also leave it in the vested benefits account. I just checked out the VIAC website about this and their offering seems very attractive compared to the major banks (at least if you have time on your hands and want to invest in equities)! I was actually quite surprised that the vested benefits account can be invested in such a risky way, it can be 80% equity, and 100% equity for the non-mandatory part.

3 Likes

Which countries are those?

3 Likes

False info, my bad. (I shouldn’t type on the internet past my bedtime)
It stays locked in a blocked account.

You can transfer 2nd pillar benefits to a Liechtenstein if you are/become insured with a pension fund scheme there. I’m not sure if Liechtenstein requires you to transfer them.

You cannot transfer them to other countries as far as I know (not to my knowledge/in practice at least).

We did this several years back (it was to the UK when it was still in the EU so it might not be much different now), this is what I know, you might find more information if you search on the forum.

Like you said, the non-mandatory part of the 2nd pillar can be withdrawn in cash and then can be transferred without any issues to any other account as soon as you set up residency abroad (they do need the confirmation from the new residence municipality or equivalent) - ideally this would be a good time to invest the (otherwise blocked in the 2nd pillar) pension sum, and this with any broker according to your risk profile.

Similarly by definition, one of the possible ways to withdraw your 3rd pillar (besides becoming independent and buying a house) is when you leave Switzerland, so this you would also be able to access - The 3rd pillar 3a a 3b in Switzerland

About the B permit, any stay abroad more that 6 months cancels it, which would need to be re-applied for when you come back - no hassle at all if moving back with a job in Switzerland.

2 Likes

An advice for the 1st pillar : ask to continue to pay AHV while abroad.

https://quitter-la-suisse.ch/3-3-faut-il-continuer-de-cotiser-a-l-avs/

I second the last few posts, doesn’t seem to be possible to transfer 2nd pillar to EU/EFTA, at least the mandatory part.

Source: 2nd pillar

You can have your 2nd pillar pension capital paid out early if you leave Switzerland for good.

However, this is not possible if you are going to settle in an EU or EFTA country. If you make your new home in one of these states, you will be insured by law there for pension, disability and survivors’ benefits.

In this case part of your occupational pension capital (known as the mandatory portion) must remain in a blocked account in Switzerland. It cannot be paid out until you reach regular retirement age, which is currently 64 for women and 65 for men. You can have the rest of your 2nd pillar savings (the extra-mandatory portion) paid out in cash.

Your pension provider can supply detailed information on withdrawing capital when leaving Switzerland for good.

If you are moving away from Switzerland permanently and still have a vested benefits account, don’t forget to take the balance with you!

So at least the non mandatory part can be taken out in cash and invested as you see fit, don’t forget tax implications in your destination country when importing capital from abroad.

Cashing out is possible, depending on your social security status (as opposed to a tax-neutral transfer to your new country’s pension fund system, which is generally not possible).

“If you make your new home in one of these states, you will be insured by law there for pension, disability and survivors’ benefits.”

This is a massive overgeneralisation - especially in the context of early retirement.

As long as you aren’t becoming employed or looking for work, you will not become subject to pension fund insurance in many countries (even when you’re self-employed, you aren’t in many cases), and therefore be able to cash out your 2nd pillar benefits in full.

There’s hardly anyone that is unable to withdraw their 2nd pillar benefits when moving to Portugal, for instance (unless they took up a job there).

You could also register as self-employed before you leave, cash out everything and then de-register from being self-employed again and leave, no?

Leaving the question of deliberately misleading AHV with your self-employment that’s only pro forma:
They’re going to demand evidence of your self-employment and you may be taxed on that income.

Not sure if that’s worth the effort, when you’re leaving (and becoming eligible for payout) anyway.

Either I missed something, or I didn’t catch the intended course of action, please help me clarify as I may also going to be in a similar situation soon.

My understanding (from the source I’ve cited earlier but also from some time ago when I researched the topic):

  • as an employed person in Switzerland, the OP has a 2nd Pillar in the employer’s pension fund
  • OP may be leaving for another EU/EFTA country, in such case her 2ndP can be moved to e.g. VIAC
  • non-mandatory contributions could be cashed out (before or after the fund change, but certainly after proof of residence in the destination country and de-registration in CH)
  • the rest will stay invested as-is in her fund of choice, again let’s assume through VIAC for ease of use, until she is of retirement age, let’s say 65, at which point it will follow the usual process, even if still abroad

The above is regardless of the new status (unemployed, employed, self-employed, etc.) in the destination country. Workaround typically would be to go to a non-EU country first for e.g. one year, to cash out the amount and then move wherever is the final destination (lots of implications tax-wise of course).

Is any of the above wrong and/or parts that could be improved? I’m honestly looking forward to a better solution as well, in case of exit from Switzerland it would be a pity to have all the capital locked out (well, ok, VIAC etc. is still better than nothing) for potentially decades.