Liechtenstein is a tiny European principality with a population just under 38,000. The small country is home to a relatively low number of expats, though with the rise of young professionals with more geographical flexibility that's starting to change.
Boasting sprawling mountain vistas, historic sites and plenty of room for outdoor sports, Liechtenstein is just as appealing as its German neighbor, though a tad less well known. The nation with the highest GDP per capita boosts an active financial service sector, plenty of tourism, and a surge in dynamic industry, leading to the country’s great wealth.
If you’re among the many would-be expats eyeballing Liechtenstein as a next destination, you may be wondering what the process of moving your financial life to the Germanic country will look like. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about opening a bank account in Liechtenstein.
It’s possible to open a bank account as a non-resident in Liechtenstein, but the experience differs vastly depending on the applicant. Liechtenstein banks offers a wide range of private financial services for outside investors. Some banks offer individual banking packages that provide additional credit cards and e-banking for fixed price monthly fees. The banks may require high volume deposits or proof of identity.
Being a tax haven, Liechtenstein’s financial system provides the highest degree of privacy and secrecy, similar to Swiss Banks. For high net worth clients the process is fairly easy to set up. Some banks even offer online services for residents from Switzerland, Germany or Austria.
It’s a good idea to call the bank beforehand and request information about the process as requirements and process may vary.
While the exact documents will vary from bank to bank and by your desired account type, the following documents should be all you need to open your account:
- Address Information (Utility bill, e-government print out)
- Contact information
Liechtensteinische Landesbank and VP Bank offer online accounts. There are also several agencies that provide help with setting up a bank account from abroad, specifically for individuals that are willing to make large deposits. As with all things online, online applications and agency applications should be researched carefully to avoid any risk of fraud.
Most retail banks charge a fixed, all-inclusive monthly rate that covers all expenses. The rates come in a number of packages that are targeted towards local residents, residents from surrounding countries and a more expensive plan for non-residents. On top of those fees, you may find various miscellaneous charges, like the ones noted below.
Retail banks in Liechtenstein offer free withdrawals from all ATMs in the country and Switzerland. Withdrawal from other countries may be subject to additional fees that should be verified with the bank in question. It’s always a good idea to keep these helpful hints on foreign ATM fees in mind.
A monthly fixed fee is applicable to accounts opened in Liechtenstein. This fee typically covers all normal banking expenses.
Depending on the target country, various fees are required for sending money abroad. Legacy financial providers can provide money transfer services but they offer varying exchange rates.
A regular account, in some cases, may involve unfair exchange rates when converting and transferring money across multiple currencies. Transferwise solves this problem with its mid-market rate regardless of client status. TransferWise also offers international remittance that's quick, transparent and used by over a million people. Combining different banking systems and streamlining the process, TransferWise offers a popular solution where it’s possible to see the transaction fee and final amount immediately. No surprises, no hidden fees and a fixed exchange rate for everyone.
Liechtensteinische Landesbank, Volksbank and VP Bank are Liechtenstein’s leading retail banks. Unless you're planning to move large sums, retail banks like VP Bank are good options. It’s possible to withdraw cash from local banks’ ATMs for a fee. The biggest private and retail banks in Liechtenstein include:
LLB is a 150 year old bank with branches in Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. There are five branches and 18 ATMs in Liechtenstein. LLB provides private and corporate banking services in addition to individual banking packages that offer credit cards and the usual suite of services expected from a bank. Features include:
- Basic accounts with a standard fee
- Retirement accounts
- Special offers for young people and students like better interest rates and gift vouchers.
- Mortgage and Lombard Loans.
VP Bank, founded in 1956, employs 800 people with offices in Switzerland, Luxembourg, British Virgin Islands, Singapore, Hong Kong and Russia. It’s one of the largest banks in Liechtenstein’s financial center. The bank specializes in asset management and geared towards private clients. VP Bank offers:
- Wealth Planning
- Investment Advice
- Real Estate Advice
- Three Banking Packages: Basic, Comfort and Premium.
Volksbank is a private bank turned retail in 2005. In partnership with Berenberg Switzerland and Berenberg Hamburg, Volksbank offers asset management and online banking, as well as:
- Savings and investments
- Personal Financing
- Building loan accounts
- Fixed and flexible rate mortgage loans
- Funding advice
- Insurance and broking service
- Provident and risk coverage products
If you’re planning to pay or get paid in multiple currencies with any regularity, using TransferWise is a good way to ensure you’re always getting the mid-market exchange rate and cut back on fees. While Liechtenstein’s currency is the Franc, a borderless account with TransferWise can help you trade in surrounding countries that operate using the Euro. If you do open a borderless account through Transferwise, a multi-currency debit card will also be available by fall 2017.
Liechtenstein’s financial sector serves wealthy institutions, high volume investors and individuals with one of the most private and secure banking sectors in the world, backed by favourable laws. If you’re ready to make the move, Liechtenstein’s financial institutions are sure to prove up to snuff for your personal banking. Good luck opening your account!