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The Principality of Liechtenstein lies in the region of the Upper Rhine between the Swiss Canton of St. Gall and the Austrian Federal State of Vorarlberg. The topography is mainly mountainous, other than the Rhine Valley, which is the most populated area.
The Principality of Liechtenstein has a population of approximately 35,000 people.
The Reigning Prince is Head of State and the Diet (parliament) has 25 elected members who propose the Head of Government, Deputy and 3 Councillors who form the Government and are not members of the Diet. Liechtenstein is a member of the United Nations; the Council of Europe, EFTA and the EEA, and membership of these does not influence local fiscal policy.
The official language of The Principality of Liechtenstein is German, although a dialect is spoken widely. English is also spoken and is used in most commercial transactions and communications.
The official currency of The Principality of Liechtenstein is the Swiss Franc.
Under the treaty with Switzerland, there are no foreign Exchange Controls.
Civil Law. Based on Swiss and Austrian law with local adaptations.
Personen und Gesellschaftsrecht mit dem Gesetz über das Treuhandunternehmen 1926 (Law on Persons and Companies 1926) known as the PGR Code.
Trust Enterprises are formed under the Law Concerning the Trust Enterprise 1928.
There are three main types of entities in use - the Establishment or Anstalt, the family foundation and the company limited by shares. The most important entity for tax purposes is the Anstalt, which is commonly used by foreign companies as a holding company for overseas subsidiaries. The Anstalt is an entity, which has no members, participants or shareholders but a holder of the founder's rights, and is a hybrid between a company limited by shares and a foundation. It is popular because, with minor exceptions, it is free to conduct all kinds of business, including non-trading activities such as holding passive investments.
The procedure for the establishment of Liechtenstein entities follows Civil Law practice. The procedure requires the submission to the Offentlichkeitsregister (Public Registry) of the following information:
A Liechtenstein body corporate or trust cannot undertake the business of banking, insurance, assurance, reinsurance, fund management, collective investment schemes or any other activity that would suggest an association with the Banking or Finance industries, unless a special licence is obtained.
The powers of Liechtenstein bodies corporate are contained in the Company's statutes (within the framework of the PGR), but may be defined in such a way to provide general powers.
German, but foreign language translations can be obtained.
Entities must appoint a local representative.
Owing to the costs associated with incorporation and the paid up share capital requirements, shelf companies are not widely available.
Subject to the proposed name being approved by the Public Registry and the criteria for incorporation has been strictly adhered to, a body corporate or trust can be established in 3-5 working days.
A name that is identical or similar to an existing name. A major name that is known to exist elsewhere. A name that may imply government patronage. A name that in the opinion of the Registrar may be considered undesirable.
The name of a body corporate or trust entity may use any language using the Latin alphabet, but the Public Registry may require a German translation.
The following names or their derivatives: bank, building society, savings, insurance, assurance, reinsurance, fund management, investment fund, Liechtenstein, state, country, municipality, principality, Red Cross and their foreign language equivalents.
The minimum authorised issued and paid up share capital for:
An Aktiengesellschaft may issue registered, bearer, no par value, preference shares and shares with special voting rights. A GmbH, Anstalt, Stiftung and a Trust do not have shares. (The founder's / owner's rights are expressed in a deed or in by-laws.)
The Tax Act came into force on 1st January 2011 adopting a 12.5% flat rate of corporate tax (minimum tax CHF 1,200 per annum).
Liechtenstein has agreements with Austria and Luxembourg.
Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEA) are in force with 20 countries including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and the UK.
The minimum number of directors for Aktiengesellschaft, GmbH and Anstalt is one. The directors may be natural persons or bodies corporate and can be of any nationality, but at least one director must be a natural person, a resident of Liechtenstein and qualified to act. The Liechtenstein Stiftung does not have a board of directors, but appoints a Foundation Council, who may be natural persons or bodies corporate. They may be of any nationality but at least one member of the Council must be a natural person, a resident of Liechtenstein and qualified to act.
The concept of a company secretary is not recognised in The Principality of Liechtenstein.
The minimum number of shareholders/equity participants/ beneficiaries of any Liechtenstein entity is one, except of the GmbH, which requires two.
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