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:
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
A large number of banknotes are issued by and returned to the SNB each year. In 2019, 399.7 million notes were issued and 382.4 million were returned. With an average of 488.1 million banknotes in circulation, this means that a single banknote returned to the SNB less than once in 2019, which is below the long-term average of 1.3 times. The following chart shows that the annual return frequency is different for each denomination.