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Issuance and return

Issuing and returning banknotes

Banknotes are issued and returned via the SNB’s network of cash distribution services, which consists of the SNB’s own bank offices (head offices in Berne and Zurich) and 14 agencies.

The SNB’s two bank offices are the largest suppliers of cash to the Swiss economy. They have processing and storage facilities and are responsible for the supply of cash in the respective regions; they are also in charge of servicing the agencies for which they are responsible.

The agencies are cash distribution services operated by cantonal banks on behalf of the SNB. These agencies are responsible for the issuance and return of cash and – unlike the two SNB bank offices – only have limited cash processing and storage facilities.

Delivery and withdrawal provisions for holders of sight deposit accounts

Based on the Federal Act on Currency and Payment Instruments (CPIA), the following delivery and withdrawal provisions apply in transactions between sight deposit account holders and the Swiss National Bank:

Provisions on banknote deliveries
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Provisions on banknote withdrawals
PDF (69 kB)

Customer relationship

Customers cannot simultaneously offer and demand notes of the same denomination. For example, they cannot return 100-franc notes and get new ones at the same time. The SNB thus forces the customer to pre-sort the banknotes. Banknotes of the same denomination received by the customer should be recirculated, with only the excess being delivered to the SNB. This rule keeps customers from passing on to the SNB the sorting necessary for their own purposes. Some customers have outsourced this pre-sorting to cash handling companies.

Number of banknotes issued and returned

The SNB issues a large number of banknotes every year and a large number are also returned. In 2015, 421 million notes were issued and 409 million returned. With an average banknote circulation of 407 million, a banknote was therefore returned to the SNB on average 1 time in 2015, which is below the long-term average of 1.5. The chart below shows that the annual return is different for each denomination. Overall, the large denominations return to the SNB more frequently than the small ones.

Chart: Banknote returns to the SNB