Liechtenstein Companies and Liechtenstein Foundations

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General Introductory and Offshore Tax Information

These corporate forms should not be described as offshore entities in the true sense of the word, but rather, entities used by investors both local and international for the purpose of trade, insurance, capital investments and handling personal or corporate affairs.

It may not be easy to single handedly present each type of entity which can be incorporated in Liechtenstein due to the fact that nearly each of the basic corporate structures can be used in variousways as a result of the high level of flexibility with which they are endowed under the PGR Code.

For example, trusts are flexible and may be used for various activities including holding or domestic trade. Non-resident entities, as well as holding and commercial companies, are sometimes called ‘exempt’ companies due to the tax benefits they enjoy.

Companies generally do not require licenses to operate but financial services companies and professional services providers are required to apply for the relevant license or permit before doing business.

Corporate structures in Liechtenstein can thus be tailored to suit the individual need of both juridical and natural persons. Liechtenstein offshore business entities are available in the corporate form of a Company without shares (Anstalt), Private Limited Company without Shares (Gesellschaft mit beschrakter Haftung GmbH), Company Limited by Shares (Aktiengesellschaft A.G.), Foundation (Stiftung), Trust (Treuhandschaft) or a Registered Trust (Treuunternehmen).

With the exception of trust companies, corporate entities in Liechtenstein share the following features:

  • An entity must be registered with the Registrar of Companies before being incorporated under the law
  • Details such as the names and addresses of the entity’s officers, directors and shareholders must be maintained at the registered office
  • The Articles of Association containing the by-laws, share structure, capital and registered office must be filed with the Registrar and made available for public scrutiny
  • Names can be written in any language but must indicate the type of entity as its ending
  • Names must not contain any words or phrases denoting government, national or territorial patronage

Liechtenstein Offshore Business Entities:

  • Liechtenstein Company Limited by Shares
  • Liechtenstein Limited Liability Company
  • Liechtenstein Establishment or Anstalt
  • Liechtenstein Foundation
  • Liechtenstein Trust Enterprise

Corporate vehicles in Liechtenstein are governed by the PGR Code or Law on Persons and Companies 1926.

Liechtenstein Company Limited by Shares

  • Specially structures to be used as a domestic company
  • Is flexible and does not have to be used as a domestic company
  • Principals include both founders and shareholders
  • 20% of the standard capital must be paid-up
  • Shares issued to the bearer must be paid-up
  • Established ‘simultaneously’ by Deed in the case where there is no public subscription
  • Established ‘successively’ if there is a public subscription, whereby the founders present a general overview of their intentions, the public subscribes and a general meeting ratifying the company’s constitution is held by the subscribers (shareholders)
  • Non-voting shares are not permitted; all shares must confer a right to vote whether restricted or multiple, for example.
  • An auditor must be appointed
  • Audited accounts must be filed with the Registrar annually

Liechtenstein Limited Liability Company

  • Minimum of one (1) director
  • Minimum of two (2) members
  • Minimum capital of SFr 30,000
  • Minimum subscription of SFr 50 and subsequent amounts do not have to be paid-up unless stated in the Articles
  • The joint liability of shareholders on withdrawal or liquidation must not exceed the registered capital amount
  • Allows for the issuance of various classes of shares
  • The company may only issue registered shares at less than the par value
  • Exempted limited liability companies
  • Audited accounts must be filed annually with the Registrar
  • Right to vote may or may not be conferred with shares

Liechtenstein Establishment or Anstalt

  • This entity is unique to Liechtenstein
  • There are no shareholders or members
  • Minimum of one director
  • Identified as an autonomous fund but has no beneficiaries
  • Minimum capital of SFr 30,000 if not divided into shares
  • Option exists to divide capital into shares and pay up a minimum capital of SFr 50,000
  • Often serves as a holding company for estate property, royalties or patents
  • Also consists of one or more founders who may or may not be beneficiaries
  • Similar to the Foundation in many ways
  • Audited accounts must be filed annually if engaged in commercial activity

Liechtenstein Foundation

  • A new foundation law became effective in April 2009, under which the private and charitable use of foundations were differentiated from each. The law gives a more specific description of the founder’s responsibilities and rules for governance and supervision of foundations. The rights of the founder are also non-transferable under the new law. The revision of the Liechtenstein foundation forms an integral part of the ‘Futuro’ project which seeks to further develop the jurisdiction as a competitive financial center.

Features:

  • The assets of a foundation are a distinct and legal entity
  • Very used for protecting family assets
  • Minimum vales of assets is SFr 30,000 which cannot be divided into shares
  • Assets can be transferred to the foundation subsequent to its formation
  • There are no shares or members
  • A copy of the Foundation Deed must be filed
  • ’Deposit foundations’ do not have to be publically registered

Liechtenstein Trust Enterprise

Types of Trust Enterprises:

  • Active Trust (eigentliche Geschaftstreuhand)
  • A trust enterprise with no legal personality

Non-active Trust (uneigentliche Treuunternehmen)

  • Commonly used as holdings for investment assets and distributing income from real estate
  • Structure is very similar to that of the US Massachusetts Trust

General Features:

  • Established by a Trustor or Settlor through a Trust Deed which is file with the Registrar
  • The name, purpose, details of persons in the trust and the structure of the trust’s funds are disclosed in the Deed
  • At least one trustee is required to reside in Liechtenstein and a holder of a recognised qualification
  • The resident trustee is required to report on the book keeping and whether commercial activities are being carried out
  • Minimum value of trust fund is SFr 30,000
  • Except where a trust is created for commercial purposes, an auditor does not have to be appointed
  • Commonly created for the purpose of protecting assets

Registered Trust

General Features:

  • Has many features of trust formed in Anglo-Saxon countries, however the rule against accumulation of income and against perpetuities apply as is typical of civil law countries
  • Formed through a Trust Deed between the Trustor or Settlor and the Trustee
  • Trust Deeds filed with the Registrar are not made available to the public, but a Deed which is not filed within 12 months of its formation will be required to submit its details in the public register
  • A trustee may be a physical or juridical person
  • Trust certificates can be used for stating the interests of beneficiaries
  • Registered trust certificates are transferable securities
  • Foreign trusts are liable to local taxation if one or more of the trustees are resident or the trust property is held in Liechtenstein
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