In Liechtenstein all persons, regardless of nationality, are entitled to found a company and apply for permission to do business. However, the person nominated as managing director of the company must fulfil certain criteria in order to be granted this permission.
According to the legal provisions in Liechtenstein, all for-profit companies doing business on a regular and independent basis require permission to do business. An application can be made at any time by all EEA/EFTA citizens, while third-country nationals must have spent an uninterrupted period of at least twelve years living in Liechtenstein. Nevertheless, a third-country national may establish a company. However, the registered managing director must meet the criteria for obtaining the permission to do business. All applicants for a permission to do business must speak German and be able to provide proof of their trustworthiness.
All companies must name a managing director in order to do business. This managing director must be present in Liechtenstein and have the qualifications required to manage a company operating in the respective field of business.
Company owners and/or managing directors must have the necessary knowledge and skills (training, apprenticeship, master course, previous work experience, etc.) to do business in their respective fields. There are three different kinds of trades: individual trades, qualified trades and allied trades. For safety reasons, persons wishing to exercise qualified trades (e.g. handicrafts) must provide proof that they have the necessary specific qualifications to do so. Allied trades are trades that are made up of at least two qualified trades that are comparable to each other because of the tools and machines required as well as the kind of work performed. If the managing director of a company has the necessary qualifications for one of the two trades, then permission is given to exercise both trades. For individual trades (e.g. commerce, procurement, consulting, etc.) there are more in-depth requirements. Certain trades, for example gastronomy, are subject to particular provisions according to the Trades Act (Gewerbegesetz). Private job placement companies and staffing agencies also require official permission.
For businesses run by a legal person, the employment contract of the managing director must clearly state his actual and managing role in the company. Managing directors may only have their place of residence outside Liechtenstein if, due to the nature of the activity, it is not actually possible to perform the trade within Liechtenstein. In some cases (depending on the nationality of the managing director) a document confirming the persons status as a cross-border commuter may be required.
In order to be granted permission to do business in Liechtenstein, applicants must also prove that they are trustworthy. An extract from the applicants judicial record and an extract from the pledged property register must be submitted. Applicants living outside Liechtenstein may also submit a declaration authenticated by a notary that they have no debts and have not pledged property or goods to anyone.
Entrepreneurs wishing to do business in Liechtenstein must establish appropriate business premises within the country. Therefore, a rental contract or proof of possession as well as a floor plan of the business premises must be submitted together with the application for permission to do business. Those who intend on working from home must provide proof that their residence meets zoning requirements.
If all the requirements have been met, the applicant will receive definitive permission to do business once the company has been entered into the commercial register. Natural persons who do not need to be entered into the commercial register will receive definitive permission directly once all requirements have been met.
The following documents must be submitted together with the fully completed application for a commercial licence: