Are there anonymous bank accounts

Numbered account

What is a number relationship?

In the case of a number relationship, a numbered account or a numbered depository is not defined by the name of the account holder, but by a number or a password. Before the First World War, numbered accounts were not uncommon in Europe; for example, you could open an anonymous bank account in Austria and Italy. The neutrality of Switzerland helped the numbered account to gain dubious fame during the uncertainty in the post-war period: the Swiss franc was considered stable, and well-heeled people could safely park their assets on a Swiss numbered account without having to reveal their identity.

While the member states of the EU gradually put a stop to traditional numbered accounts in order to curb money laundering, they were allowed in Switzerland for a long time. It is only since July 1, 2004 that the owner of a numbered account has to undergo an identity check in Switzerland.

A numbered account is not anonymous

In this country, consumers associate numbered accounts with Swiss bank details that anonymous account holders use to evade tax. However, this is no longer the case. Numbered accounts are not kept anonymously, but require identification of the account holder in connection with the account opening.

However, the account holder is known only to a few employees of the bank. In addition, his name does not appear on the papers relating to the account - anonymity is therefore initially preserved on both account statements and bank receipts. However, suspicious activity on the accounts must be reported to the responsible authorities - this regulation also applies across national borders.

Numbered accounts not permitted in Germany

Against the background of money laundering, numbered accounts are not only subject to national but also to international laws. As early as 1980, the Council of Europe recommended that the legitimation requirement for numbered accounts be incorporated into national laws. In Germany, opening a numbered account is generally prohibited in accordance with Section 154 of the Tax Code.

The legal basis for numbered accounts in the countries in which they are permitted is identical to that for bank accounts that run under the name of the holder.

Why numbered accounts are gradually dying out

Since the numbered account no longer offers real anonymity, it has become less lucrative for many people. Gradually, the owner account is replacing the number relationship - also because many Swiss banks are increasing the costs for this type of bank account. This is justified with increased regulatory requirements and the will to maintain service quality and improve security.

Is there still real anonymity with bank accounts?

Within the EU, this question has to be clearly answered in the negative since the Swiss law change. The situation is different with the so-called offshore accounts. Offshore (in German: remote from the coast) because the countries whose banks do not provide information to the local institutions due to a lack of regulations and a lack of infrastructure are often island states: For example, the Bahamas, Mauritius, Panama and the Maldives are among these states.

However, the creation of an offshore account is usually associated with both a high organizational effort and very high account management fees. A high price that account holders pay for anonymity that may be short-lived in the wake of the global quest for transparency and cooperation in financial matters.

Compare checking accounts now

  • Free account management
  • Low overdraft interest
  • Free EC and credit cards