Properly kept accounts are an essential precondition for any successful business activity. Depending on the size and legal form of the company, different accounting rules need to be observed.
Irrespective of the chosen legal form, there is a requirement to maintain accounts in Liechtenstein. These must clearly report the state of the company. In addition, all business transactions must be recorded – that is to say, all situations in which money is used, whether earnings or expenditure. General accountancy rules are also applicable. These apply to all companies that are required to be entered in the commercial register on the basis of statutory provisions and operate a business that is run in a commercial manner. This also includes company forms such as establishments and foundations.
The general regulations state that:
- An ordinary rendering of accounts encompasses an inventory, a complete balance sheet and an income statement.
- At the end of each financial year, a precise schedule of all assets and debts must be prepared.
- At the end of each financial year, annual financial statements must be drawn up. The annual financial statements, consisting of a balance sheet and income statement, must be submitted within six months of the end of the financial year.
- Notes must be enclosed with the annual financial statements, if this is required. These must list the overall totals of the sureties, guarantee obligations and liens, as well as any possible further contingent liabilities.
- The annual financial statements and the annual report must be prepared in the German language, in the currencies Swiss francs, euros or US dollars.
- Legal entities that are required to render accounts, but that do not exercise a commercial activity, may also prepare the annual financial statements and the annual report exclusively in English, French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese, and denominated in any freely convertible foreign currency.
- In the case of partnerships, the annual financial statements and possible consolidated annual financial statements must be signed by each personally liable partner. In the case of legal entities and fiduciary companies, the persons to whom the management has been entrusted must affix their signatures, or at least one of the persons to whom the management has been entrusted, insofar as this person has a single signatory authority.
Supplementary accounting rules
In addition, supplementary accounting rules are applicable to the following company forms:
- Company limited by shares
- Partnership limited by shares
- Company with limited liability
- European company
- General partnerships (subject to specific preconditions)
- Limited partnerships (subject to specific preconditions)
The scope of the supplementary rules depends on the size of the company. Categorisation according to size is of relevance in particular in conjunction with accountancy requirements, disclosure obligations as well as the requirement that annual financial statements must be audited by an auditor.
Maintaining and archiving of company accounts
When maintaining company accounts and preparing the accounting records, the following aspects must be observed:
- Recognised commercial principles must be adhered to (proper rendering of accounts).
- Entries in the company accounts and the other necessary records must be performed comprehensively, accurately, punctually and in a properly ordered manner.
- Entries or records may not be amended in a manner that makes it impossible to ascertain the original content. Furthermore, no changes may be made of a nature that leaves it uncertain as to whether they are original or were made at a later date.
- The company accounts, the accounting records and the business correspondence must be archived in a careful and orderly manner and must be protected from harmful effects.
- If the company accounts, the business correspondence and the accounting records are maintained and archived in electronic form, then the principles or proper data processing must be adhered to.
- The (consolidated) annual financial statements and the (consolidated) annual report must be archived in writing and with signatures.
- Whosoever is obliged to render ordinary accounts must archive the company accounts, the accounting records and the business correspondence for a period of ten years. The archiving period commences at the end of the financial year in which the last entries were made, the accounting records were generated and the business correspondence was received or dispatched.
Statutory basis (German only)
Persons and Companies Act (Personen- und Gesellschaftsrecht – “PGR”) of 20 January 1926; Liechtenstein Law Gazette (“LGBl.” 1926 No. 24, as amended
Persons and Companies Ordinance of 19 December 2000 (Verordnung vom 19. Dezember 2000 zum Personen- und Gesellschaftsrecht); Liechtenstein Law Gazette (“LGBl.” 2000 No. 281, as amended
Commercial Register Ordinance of 11 February 2003 (Handelsregisterverordnung vom 11. February 2003 – “HRegV”); Liechtenstein Law Gazette (“LGBl.”) 2003 No. 66, as amended