Pension refund: how long does it take?

Hi everyone,

As far as I know, when leaving Switzerland, if I am not a Swiss citizen, I am entitled to receive the contributions to the pension fund I contributed while working here.

Question: how long, on average, does it take for the government to make the payout starting from the time I leave Switzerland? Are there any restrictions where they can send the money?

Months. I did not get back AHV payments, just contributions to the 2nd pillar which come back from the pension fund.

Do you receive the AHV pension instead?

Before departing, did you request a quotation on how much you're entitled to get from the Swiss Compensation Office? Did it match to what you got?

"Months" - was that more than a year or less?

You contributed to both AHV and 2nd pillar, the AHV reimbursements to ask from Swiss Compensation Office (their estimations were quite in line with my personal calculation) and i heard can take half a year to get it after you left, for the 2nd pillar you have to ask the pension fund of your employer, send a letter to them with your confirmation of departure and they will reimburse also only after you leave, but should be ~3 month i think at max.

Wait, so there are two places to ask my contributions back from? Wow. I thought it was only the Swiss Compensation Office and that's that...

How do I find out who is my employer's pension fund, and how much they owe me?

Yes, a reduced AHV. I have applied to get a British pension - decision outstanding. I worked longer in NZ, but the peculiarities of the system make it more likely that I will get a pension from Britain.

Every employer is obliged to send you every year a pension fund statement, where it is written contact details and how much money currently there (the 2nd pillar). Unless you worked at some semi-grey per hour temp jobs, then could be that nothing was payed to 2nd pillar or even to AHV....But if it is a usual job at a registered company then they send you these statements every year. For AHV you have to write directly to Geneve Office to ask how much money is there to get.

I believe the amount you are entitled to be paid out actually depends on the agreements between Switzerland and the country you are departing to, no whether you are Swiss or not.

If you search this site, you should find several threads discussing this in the context of moving to different states.

Makes sense, I was indeed getting those notifications, but I thought it's the same as the AHV. So complicated

So am I entitled to the entire amount of my contribution there, or are there any catches?

Hm, I found this agreement between Switzerland and Japan where I am moving. It does mention that its scope includes “(e) (i) aux autres personnes qui sont ou ont été soumises aux dispositions légales de l’un des Etats contractants,” - so basically anyone who was a subject to one of the two countries’ social security systems?

Does it mean then that Switzerland will not compensate me the benefits but will carry over them to Japan?

I can’t say because I have no knowledge of this agreement, but Switzerland like most first world countries has agreements for the mutual recognition of social welfare style contributions, so I’d say it is probable. You’d need to get professional advice if the amount is significant.

We were advised it would take 4-6 weeks for the pension to be paid out. It took 4 work days!

In our case, the payout was because my OH had turned 60 and was given the option for a lump sum payment whilst still remaining resident in CH, with tax applied.

My pension provider is AXA. From research I've done within my former employer, it takes a matter of days to cash out your pension once you've deregistered from the Gemeinde and shown them the requisite paperwork. My tax advisor confirmed this time frame as well.

Also it's probably worth confirming with a tax professional, but I don't think you're eligible for AHV reimbursements because tax treaties between Switzerland and Japan.

I can confirm.

I retired in Oct 2023 and in late September I was contacted by AXA to ask what I wanted to do with the funds for my 2nd pillar. I returned my decision with the signed documents* in early October and the cash was in my account on 01 November 2023.

*If you are married or in a civil partnership the signatures of you and your partner must be witnessed - I made an appointment at the local AXA office and they did the necessary, you need to take your official IDs with you too.