FAQ – Economy

1. As a foreigner / non-Liechtenstein citizen, can I establish a business in Liechtenstein?
In principle, yes. A distinction must be made between businesses operating commercially in Liechtenstein on the one hand and holding and domiciliary companies on the other, i.e., businesses that are merely domiciled in Liechtenstein, but do not operate commercially in Liechtenstein. The main differences are the requirement of a commercial license and certain tax aspects. A Liechtenstein professional trustee or lawyer must be contacted to establish a holding company. The Office of Land and Public Registration provides information on the formalities of establishing a business. For an active company, an application for a commercial license must be submitted to the Office of Economic Affairs.

2. Where can I obtain an extract from the Commercial Register?

The Office of Justice is responsible for extracts.

3. I am looking for a job in Liechtenstein. As a foreigner, can I work in Liechtenstein? If so, where can I apply?
Liechtenstein offers many interesting jobs for citizens and foreigners alike. There are possibilities of working on an employed or self-employed basis in Liechtenstein with or without residency. The Immigration and Passport Office  can provide information. The Public Employment Service provides lists of job placement offices in Liechtenstein and neighbouring Switzerland.

4. As a foreigner, can I become a resident of Liechtenstein?

Citizens of EEA countries applying for residence without employment who have no permanent and regular employment abroad may be granted a temporary residence permit for a period of five years, with the possibility of renewal.

Swiss citizens applying for residence without employment who have no permanent and regular employment abroad may be granted a temporary residence permit for a period of five years, with the possibility of renewal.

Information for citizens of third countries and students, as well as an overview of the different types of permits and notifications available for residence in Liechtenstein with employment are available from the Immigration and Passport Office.

5. Do people have to pay taxes in Liechtenstein?
Yes, people have to pay taxes in Liechtenstein. The general tax burden in 2000 (i.e., the amount of tax revenue as a percentage of gross national product) in Liechtenstein was 22.9%, in comparison with 27.5% in Japan, 29.7% in the United States, and 42% in Europe. The maximum income tax for natural persons is 18.1%.

Remarks on Liechtenstein’s tax policy: Liechtenstein pursues a liberal tax policy. The Liechtenstein legal and company system is committed to liberal economic activity and has designed the legal framework conditions in accordance with this principle. Liechtenstein tax policy is stable, predictable, and structured for the long term. Tax decisions are made in close coordination with citizens. By means of a popular vote, citizens may initiate or abolish any tax legislation. The spending policies of the country and the municipalities are transparent and carefully monitored.

6. Can I come to Liechtenstein as an exchange student?

European students may come to Liechtenstein through the EU Programme Leonardo da Vinci. Students from non-European States who would like to spend a semester at the University of Liechtenstein are requested to contact the International Office.

7. What industrial sectors exist in Liechtenstein?
The Liechtenstein economy is greatly diversified, with a large number of small businesses. Some Liechtenstein businesses are specialized in research-intensive market niches and are worldwide market leaders.

Manufacturing programs include instruments, electronic monitoring devices, fastening technology, precision tools, vacuum, heating technology, dental and pharmaceutical products, and foodstuffs.

Images of industrial enterprises in Liechtenstein can be downloaded free of charge from the Image Service of the Information and Communication Unit. Indication of the source is required.

8. What makes the Liechtenstein financial center attractive overall?
Liechtenstein guarantees political, legal, and social stability. In addition, it offers favorable framework conditions, especially its membership in two economic areas: the EU via the EEA, and Switzerland via the Customs and Currency Treaty. Its central location in Europe and its small size, which guarantees short channels, are additional advantages. Finally, decades of tradition in private banking and extensive know-how and quality in this field must be mentioned. This tradition is cultivated and expanded in a sustainable manner. Basic and continuing training in this area are a top priority. Particularly in the area of financial services, the University of Liechtenstein offers highly specialized educational programs.

9. Is there banking secrecy in Liechtenstein?

Yes, there is banking secrecy in Liechtenstein. It is actually called bank client secrecy, since it is based on the protection of individual privacy. This is a basic attitude and a tradition in Liechtenstein. However, bank client secrecy is waived in the case of criminal acts. The Liechtenstein financial sector has zero tolerance for criminal assets. In contrast to tax fraud, tax evasion is an administrative offense in Liechtenstein, not a criminal offence. This approach is based on the conception of citizens as trustworthy and well-informed persons, not as entities to be administered.

10. How many banks exist in Liechtenstein, and what is the total amount of assets they manage?
There are a total of 17 licensed banks in Liechtenstein. At the end of 2012, the consolidated client assets under the management of Liechtenstein banks was 184 billion Swiss francs.