Moving from CH to US

Hi everyone,

Swiss Citizen moving from Switzerland to the US (Probably for 3 years). Have a couple of questions.


  • Currently having most of my money with DEGIRO and VWRL (EBS)
  • Probably transferring portfolio to IB as DEGIRO does not allow US residence
  • Will sell pillar 2 and 3 and invest it on my own in ETF. CPA told me that is fine as i will only move towards the end of the year to the US and therefore only my US income is tax relevant for the US this year. 2 and 3 pillar is just taxed in Switzerland with the Quellensteuer which is like 5%?
  • Anyone same experience with selling 2/3 pillar?
  • In the US I can buy VT. Should I sell my VWRL (250k+) and buy VT and also invest in the US in VT?
  • Was reading that it is not possible anymore to buy VT in Switzerland? Also some other issues with VT when I move back to Switzerland?
  • Was buying VWRL as it is in CHF do you see FX issues / fees when I move now 250k into USD and also in the future when i sell in Switzerland the same back again to CHF?

Depends on the broker. Lots of (sometimes conflicting) info on the forum. No issues at this point when returning to Switzerland. Just be aware of possible (estate/inheritance) tax consequences and necessary filing, depending on your country of residence, in case you die.

Withdrawing 2nd and 3rd is illegal if you plan to return to Switzerland rather soon. Just sayin’…
(“But how are they going to find out? And what would be the penalty anyway?” Yes, we know, we know…)

Depending on how the U.S. treats these retirement accounts, it may be a good idea not to sell them.

Most probably a good idea, since it will make your U.S. tax paperwork easier and VT is slightly more efficient with regards to taxes and fund costs.

There’s no need to convert, since both funds are denominated in the same currency (USD).
You just may have to transfer the funds to a broker that allows you to sell them for USD (which, yes, may incur costs on the side of the outgoing broker, and they could charge you).

As for your investment outcome, as long as your stay invested in funds with the same (or very similar, as in VWRL and VT) underlying basket of stocks, the currency doesn’t matter.

Thanks a lot for the answer.

  • 2/3 pillar you are right but I also checked with 2/3rd pillar accounts and you are able to invest in them again after returning to Switzerland. So I do not see an issue here. Who knows what happened in the future might stay forever in the US.
  • Currently I buy the CHF version of VWRL at SWX therefore when I sell I will also receive CHF which I have to convert into USD to invest into VT or am I wrong? Can I sell them through IB in USD?

You are not going to get back mandatory (BVG/LPP) pension fund benefits after they’ve been withdrawn. The ones that are converted into pensions at (currently) a 6.8% conversion rate, that is.

Neither are you going to be able to pay back previous 3rd pillar benefits.

There is no such “version” of the fund - even though yes, prices on the Swiss Exchange are quoted and settled in CHF. I’m not too familiar with the behind-the-scene details (if a change of depository is required), but in principle you could sell them for USD, yes.

It will certainly be easier - and possibly less expensive - to sell them at DEGIRO, receive the CHF to your bank account, transfer the cash IBKR and convert into USD there.

It comes down to:

  • DEGIRO’s transaction costs for the share sale
  • bank transfer costs to transfer the cash to your (presumably Swiss CHF) account
  • currency conversion costs at IBKR
  • and possibly the same in reverse


  • the cost of transferring shares to IBKR
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  • yes the money in the second and third pillar is then not available for retirement but I hope that I can retire quite a bit earlier then the retirement age and also have a better return in the ETF. (The 6.8% is not as great as it sounds as it starts with retirement age and goes on until you die and you are not able to pass the remaining amount on if you take the 6.8% conversion instead of the one time payment. So worst case you die one day after retirement and choose the conversation and it is all gone)
  • good tip with selling in DEGIRO and buying back at IB. Was looking into portfolio transfers which should be just 20€ (for one position) at DEGIRO but probably more paperwork.

Assuming worst case, yes. On the other hand, it’s an excellent insurance again living to a very old age. 1/0.068/year = 14.7 years. Statistically (and assuming no inflation and increases of monthly pension), you probably live a bit longer than that. You do have to be insured with a pension fund (i.e. work) at the time of retirement though, to be eligibly for a pension.


These 3rd pillar investments can be more cost/tax efficient to keep in such a tax-sheltered account, compared to withdrawing and going on to invest the proceeds as part of your personal wealth.

For further information, search for the phrase “no-brainer” in posts by the user @Cortana (and others) on this forum.

You definitely don’t want to have VWRL (or an equity 3a) while in the US. My impression is that PFIC investments for US taxpayers are really to be avoided.

Also you want to reset the cost basis before moving anyway (US has capital gain tax).