Friday, December 9, 2016

I'm Stubborn

Okay, make that obstinate.

I don't take no for an answer easily, and I only give up on something when all options are exhausted. Especially when I sense someone trying to put obstacles in my path.

I wanted to open a bank account in Switzerland, where I am a legal resident. I knew - as an American citizen - it would be difficult at best. The FATCA law passed in 2010 and enforced beginning in 2014 has made all but the richest Americans totally toxic to banks outside the US. The threat of draconian penalties by the US government (the government that is supposed to care about my well being no matter where I choose to live - after all, they tax me no matter where I earn my money) has led banks to dump basic banking accounts of Americans and refuse to open new accounts.

I was told La Poste was perhaps the easiest Swiss bank for Americans to do business with.

If they are easy, I'd hate to experience hard.

At first, it seemed a breeze. Walked into the main La Poste office in downtown Geneva, filled out the paperwork with a nice young man, and walked away thinking I would receive my account info in the mail. (I thought it a bit odd that he wouldn't allow me to make an initial deposit.)

A few days later, I started to get a sequence of letters from the bank office that handled "foreigners." One thing they insisted on was a copy of my Swiss Permis B, my legal license for living and working in the country. When I provided it, they said there wasn't sufficient time before the expiration - I had about 5 months remaining before renewal, and they curiously required at least 6.

When my Permis B renewal came through, this time good for two years, the bank required additional documentation.

After I had furnished all that I thought was necessary, they came back with another one - I needed a Certificate of Residence, ie proof that I actually live in Switzerland, and it had to be dated within one month of sending it to them. (The certificate I had from a year ago apparently not good enough.)

One day last week I walked up to the mairie for our commune. They couldn't provide me such a certificate, unless I was Swiss. Foreigners (etrangers) had to go through the Geneva office in Onex on the other side of town. (I could have applied online, after paying a fee at a bank machine, and received the certificate in the mail, but it would not arrive in time to meet the bank's deadline.)

So today, I walked up the hill to the bus stop, took a bus and two trams to get to the communal office in Onex, got a number for the queue, waited three hours for the 60 or so people in front of me (for various services), and secured my certificate. Then another 90 minutes working my way home on the buses/trams. About 6 hours total for one lousy piece of paper.

I could have blown off the certificate and the account. After all, in the meantime, another Swiss bank had kindly opened an account for me. But I was not going to let La Poste beat me down with their flurry of obstacles. Obstinate, remember?

Let's see what happens when I send in the residence certificate.

1 comment:

  1. You should ask the US embassy for assistance. Afterall, the US is responsible for this mess, no?