You can transfer money to the UK from Switzerland using either a bank or a money transfer specialist.
I’ll explain how the process works, how long it takes, the visible and hidden charges, and the ways to get a better rate.
How to transfer money from Switzerland to the UK (in 4 simple steps)
Sending money from Switzerland to a UK bank account is quite straightforward once you understand the process.
Step 1 – Verify your identity
Before you can send money abroad, all customers are required by law to have an identity check.
You will be asked for the standard information – name, date of birth, address.
Only new customers need to be verified. Once you are set-up, you can skip this step in the future.
Step 2 – Secure an exchange rate
Once you are verified, you can secure an exchange rate if you’re ready.
To send money from Switzerland to the UK, it is the Swiss Franc (CHF) to Pound Sterling (GBP) exchange rate that matters to you.
A bank or money transfer specialist will quote you their latest CHF/GBP rate.
You then decide whether to proceed.
No transaction will occur without your authority.
If you are happy to go ahead, the exchange rate quoted is locked-in for you.
You will also be emailed a trade confirmation that shows all the details of your transaction and where to send in your Swiss Francs.
Step 3 – Send in your Swiss Francs
If you are dealing with a regulated company, you will be sending your money to a safeguarded client bank account for Swiss Francs.
In practice, it’s like paying a domestic bill.
Note - a bank will require you to have your CHF in your account upfront, whereas a money transfer company will allow you to secure an exchange rate before you send your money in.
Step 4 – Your Francs are converted to Pounds and sent to the UK
You will also need to provide the details of the UK bank account where you want your funds sent.
Once your bank or money transfer company has received your Swiss Francs, they will be converted into Pounds at the exchange rate agreed.
You will also be asked for some basic information about your recipient’s bank details.
Your Pounds will then sent to the UK bank account you request.
How long does it take?
In practice, it normally takes 2-3 working days to transfer money from Switzerland to the UK.
You may come across companies claiming they carry out a ‘same-day transfer’.
But that just means they will convert your money and send it out on the same day.
The truth is your UK bank will take a few days to clear the funds into your account.
There’s nothing to worry about (it’s not a tax thing) – but you can’t speed it up.
It’s also a fact of life that some payments clear faster than others.
If you want your money quickly, you can expedite the process by sending your funds beforehand.
That way your money will be ‘outbound’ as soon as possible.
Banks vs money transfer specialists – what’s the difference?
In short, both will get the job done.
It’s mainly a case of cost and service differences.
Using your bank might be a convenient option for paying your UK mortgage or some small, regular bills back home.
But if you’ve sold your ski chalet or are looking to repatriate a large sum of money from savings or investments, it’s worth your while looking at the alternatives.
From speaking to many customers over the years, I know that the banks aren’t necessarily the best or cheapest way to transfer money from Switzerland to the UK.
Banks can be frustrating to deal with, and their charges can be high.
For small amounts, some people may think it’s not worth their time or trouble considering an alternative, regardless of the savings, because the difference in cost will be naturally less on smaller sums.
However, for those making large or more frequent transfers, I would suggest you consider a money transfer company.
The larger the transfer, the more the cost and services differences will become apparent.
The set-up part is pretty easy.
Once that’s done, your bank no longer has you over a barrel.
As money transfer companies specialise in international transfers, you should find their service is more efficient and cost-effective – otherwise what’s the point of their existence.
Money transfer companies also don’t tend to have any limits on the amount of money you can transfer.
In terms of service, money transfer companies can provide additional features.
Some companies allow you to:
- fix an exchange rate for an agreed period of time (usually up to 12 months),
- set target levels or specific limits for the rate, or
- inform you when the exchange rate moves in your favour.
Ultimately, these service features can lower your costs and minimise your risk.
Banks are not set-up to provide anything other than a basic service.
And that service seems to be getting less and less, because I get the impression that the banks want you to do everything yourself online these days.
Can use your existing account
High charges, minimal service
Small payments, convenience
Money transfer specialist
Lower cost, more efficient
Need to register
Large or regular amounts
The charges explained (including the hidden ones)
When you send money from Switzerland to the UK, there are two types of charges you need to look out for:
- Exchange rate
It takes a bit of digging to find out the fees the big Swiss banks charge.
They all use their own terminology, and there’s a bunch of different payment types to confuse matters further.
There is generally a flat fee charged per ‘outgoing’ international transfer.
Below is a quick summary what the big three in Switzerland charge:
- PostFinance (Post Office) charge a CHF 2 fee online or CHF 5 for a paper-based transfer using Giro International. They also add another CHF 12 for urgent payments.
- Credit Suisse charge CHF 24 for international and foreign currency payment.
- UBS charge CHF 5 for an outgoing online payment or CHF 10 for a paper-based payment.
There can be other fees too.
I won’t bore you with pages of ‘special tariffs’ (some of these PDFs run for 20 pages!).
Essentially if you want anything extra like an amendment, cancellation or investigation, you will be charged around CHF 30-60 per request.
It’s also a common problem to get hit with a correspondent or intermediary fee.
This is when another bank helps your bank to facilitate the payment.
These fees often catch people by surprise.
You will find some money transfer specialists will also charge you fees.
The good news is some don’t (for the record – we charge zero fees).
I appreciate the various fees are an annoyance, but here’s the bit I don’t want you to miss:
Unless you are sending a small amount, the exchange rate tends to be more important than the fees.
One of my pet hates is when I read on discussion boards things like: “I pay CHF 2 to send money back to the UK”.
The reality is you pay a lot more.
It ignores the additional fees and the exchange rate cost.
The big financial institutions want you to focus on the transfer fee and forget about the hidden fees.
2. Exchange Rates
The exchange rates you see on Google, and websites like XE and Oanda, are something called ‘interbank exchange rates’.
They are rates used by banks to trade between themselves.
Customers cannot access interbank rates.
Every bank and money transfer specialist set their own exchange rates.
A commercial or customer rate includes a profit margin.
You will find there is not a single or standard CHF to GBP exchange rate.
It depends on the amount of Swiss Francs you are sending (the more you send, the better the rate).
Note - for larger money transfers, the exchange rate cost is normally more important than the fees.
I’ve looked into the exchange rates offered by PostFinance, Credit Suisse and UBS.
PostFinance offer a free currency converter, but then have a big fat disclaimer saying “no guarantee of accuracy is given”.
UBS and Credit Suisse provide little information up front.
They seem to make it difficult to get a rate before you do your transfer.
I suspect what happens is you have to go through all the steps, enter all the details, and then at the end, they tell you the rate.
By then, a lot of people will just accept the rate in front of them.
It’s also a method used by the UK banks.
But to put some context around this, say you sold a Swiss property for CHF 250,000 and wanted to send the proceeds back to the UK.
A 2% margin would equate to CHF 5,000 in exchange rate costs.
That’s a lot of money.
You can see that for a large money transfer, the exchange rate costs are way more than the various fees we mentioned earlier.
That’s why it’s definitely worth shopping around.
Here’s a quick tip: if you compare rates, do it at roughly the same time, as the exchange rate will fluctuate every few seconds.
How safe are money transfers between Switzerland and the UK?
Not all companies have the same level of regulation or customer protections in place.
My advice would be to choose a company that is regulated by either the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) or the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
You will find the Swiss banks will be regulated by FINMA, whereas most of the leading money transfer companies are regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Both the banks and fully regulated companies will verify customers to protect against fraud and money laundering.
It's a sign you are dealing with a reputable company.
They are also required to keep your funds segregated in a safeguarded client account – which is kept separate from any company funds.
To find out if a money transfer company is Authorised, enter the company’s name in the FCA register.
- You can use a bank or money transfer specialist to transfer money from Switzerland to a UK bank account.
- It should take 2-3 days for your money to arrive in the UK.
- There are two types of charges: fees and exchange rates.
- In terms of security, a regulated company will safeguard all client money.
- The larger your transfer, the more that costs and timing matter.
Who are we?
Key Currency is a leading money transfer specialist.
We provide a trusted and helpful alternative to using a bank for your international transfers.
The cost of our service is included within the exchange rate we quote.
It keeps things simple – you don’t need to factor in an assortment of fees.
One thing that sets us apart from the banks and online-only apps is we don’t push you onto a system and make you do everything yourself.
All our customers are assigned an account manager (a human being), who will assist you from start to finish.
Our account managers can also discuss target rates and technical levels in order to optimise the timing of your transfer.
We will work with you to get the best rates, avoid losses and reduce costs.
As a company, we are open and transparent.
The names, faces, and backgrounds of our people are shown on our website.
We have attained a 5-Star "Excellent" customer rating on the review website Trustpilot; which is the highest rating available.
We’re committed to providing a value for money service of the highest integrity and safety.
Key Currency Ltd is an FCA regulated Authorised Payment Institution (No. 753989), and as such, all money transfers are conducted through safeguarded client accounts.
To make a no-obligation enquiry, please request a quote below.