Frequently asked questions

Anyone who credibly claims to be a client or heir of a deceased or missing client of a bank or a representative of such but does not know the name of the bank can ask the Central Claims Office to make inquiries and conduct a search for dormant assets. Therefore, the Central Claims Office requires:

  • A credible claim that there is a client relationship with a bank in Switzerland;
  • The name of the person under whose name the account, passbook, custody account or safe-deposit box was held;
  • Documentary evidence of the entitlement of the claimant to any account, passbook, custody account or safe-deposit box that may still exist, specifically their identity and inheritance status.
All kinds of assets without contact (savings books, accounts including numbered and pseudo- nym accounts, custody accounts, safe-deposit boxes) with banks in Switzerland with a value of at least CHF 500.-.

As soon as a bank ascertains that contact with the customer and his or her proxy has been lost:

  • If the bank’s mail can no longer be forwarded to the customer.
  • In the case of hold mail, savings books and safe-deposit boxes, if the bank has concrete information that the customer has died – however at the latest 10 years after the last contact with him or her or his or her proxy or heirs.
  • In the case of e-banking, at the latest when there has been no contact (i.e. log-in) for three years.
  • If the bank’s possible attempts to restore contact have failed.
  • If an independent asset manager or investment advisor informs the bank that his business relationship with the customer is without contact, it will also be considered to be without contact for the bank.

The bank must report the asset holder’s data (including eventual proxies) to a centralised databank to which only the Swiss Banking Ombudsman’s Central Claims Office has access.

No. There is no office in Switzerland that has access to all client data of the individual banks. A central database exists only for assets reported as contactless. Assets not yet reported as contactless can therefore only be identified by making a direct enquiry to the banks.

If assets are held in structures (companies, trusts, foundations), it is important to note that the database contains the names of the structure (as account holder) and the representatives. A search for the name of the Beneficial Owner is usually unsuccessful.

On the basis of the information provided in the questionnaire and the documents submitted, the Central Claims Office examines whether the claimant is entitled to the search. If yes, the query is entered into the centralised databank and the claimant is informed about the (pre- liminary) result.

Because of the different criteria set for different assets for reporting to the centralised databank (see above: Question 3), a banking relationship might not yet have been reported to the system when the Central Claims Office does the query. Depending on the type of assets and mailing instructions, the report from the bank to the centralised databank might only take place 10 years after the search by the claimant.

This case is covered by the system. The centralised databank reports to the Central Claims Office if a name previously searched for is later reported by a bank.

  • The names of the presumed asset holder have to be listed as completely as possible.
  • Any change of address of the claimants should be reported to the Central Claims Office in order to ascertain that they can be contacted if necessary.