Acquiring licences, authorisations or permits with a view to starting and operating a business

Information about Rights & Duties of #Special opening times and authorisations

Information about Rights & Duties

Acquiring licences, authorisations or permits with a view to starting and operating a business

Setting up a business

What declarations, notifications or applications are required for approval by the competent authorities?

The necessary declarations and applications required to set up a business differ depending on the sector, legal form and federal state. As a general rule, any person wishing to take up a business in a self-employed capacity, or set up a subsidiary or a dependent branch, must notify the competent local trade office pursuant to Section 14(1) of the Trade, commerce and industry regulation act (Gewerbeordnung, GewO). You can deduce from Section 6 GewO whether your project is exempt from this provision.

As soon as you have notified the trade office (Gewerbeamt) of the setting up of your business, your data will be transmitted to the tax office (Finanzamt). If you want to work on a self-employed basis and are subject to the obligation to register, you must apply for a tax number from the tax office. For further information, please contact your local tax office. In both cases, you will then receive a tax registration questionnaire.

If you want to employ persons subject to compulsory social security contributions in your business, you need a company number. You can apply for this online from the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit).

More information on the relevant documents, evidence and notification procedures for your project can be found on the administrative portal of the federal state where you want to set up your business. Alternatively, you may submit your application via the Point of Single Contact (PSC) of the respective state.

What are the requirements for inclusion in a register, list, database, professional association or an organisation?

Whether you need to register your business in a register, trade association or similar varies depending on the profession. For more information, please consult the common register portal of the federal states. There you can find the commercial, cooperative and partnership registers of all the federal states.

Where can you find the contact details of the competent authorities and the Points of Single Contact (PSC) established by the Services Directive?

The contact details of the competent authorities can be found on the administrative portal of the federal state where you want to set up your business. You can register online via the Points of Single Contact (PSC). An overview of all the Points of Single Contact can be found under the heading Further information.

Is there any further assistance and support for setting up a business, such as clubs or support services, or also step-by-step guidance?

You can find specific information and an overview of the documents to be submitted and the costs to be incurred for registering your business in the administrative portals of the federal states. Information can also be obtained from the Points of Single Contact.

In addition, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz, BMWK) provides an entrepreneurs portal with extensive information and assistance, including on the choice of legal form and funding.

Detailed information can also be found on the websites of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Industrie- und Handelskammern, IHK). For example, the Berlin chamber of commerce and industry provides a roadmap for setting up a business (Fahrplan zur Gründung). In addition to providing advice, the chambers of commerce and industry also offer seminars for individuals seeking to set up a business.

Who must be informed in the event of a change of name, business name or private or professional address?

A change in the name of the business is not a notifiable activity pursuant to Section 14(1) GewO.

Relocations, on the other hand, are subject to notification and must therefore be notified pursuant to Section 14(1) GewO. If the new registered office is still in the former municipality or city, a business re-registration is sufficient. If the move is to another town or municipality, the business must first be deregistered at the previous location and then re-registered at the new location at the local trade office.

For entrepreneurs registered in the commercial register, additional notification requirements apply to the commercial register, concerning the registered office and business address in Germany of a business. Regardless of the specific legal form, in the case of a change of residence of a partner or managing director to another place of residence, the change of residence must be registered in a form certified by a notary with the commercial register.

The new business address must also be communicated to the following public bodies:

  • the tax office
  • health insurance funds (collection bodies for social security contributions)
  • employers insurance associations (providers of statutory accident insurance)
  • the business registration service of the Federal employment agency (Betriebsnummern-Service der Bundesagentur für Arbeit)
  • the contribution service, public service broadcasting

What licences/authorisations/notifications are necessary to carry out different types of activities?

  • for each type of authorisation or notification, the appropriate procedures;
  • for each type of authorisation or notification, the contact details of the competent authorities.

What remedies are available in the event of a dispute with the competent authorities, customers or between businesses?

Decisions of the authorities may be subject to an appeal within 1 month of the publication of the administrative act pursuant to Section 70 VwGO.

In disputes with other businesses as well as with customers, civil claims procedures may be used.

Where can you find the contact details of associations or organisations that offer practical assistance?

The chambers of commerce provide information in many areas of law relevant to businesses. In particular, for small and medium-sized enterprises without a specialised legal service, these chamber of commerce services provide important support.

What are the costs of registering or re-registering a business?

The costs that may arise from a notification or re-registration of a business vary from one federal state to another. More detailed information can be found on the administrative portals. Registration in registers and directories may also entail costs. These also vary, for example due to the size of the business.

You must declare your commercial activity immediately at the time of setting up your business. A late notification may give rise to an administrative fine.

Anyone who takes over the operation of an existing business in a self-employed capacity, or set up a subsidiary or a dependent branch must notify the competent authority at the same time (Section 14(1) GewO).

Further information

  • BMWK entrepreneurs portal
  • Overview of all Points of Single Contact
  • Overview of professional associations of the DGUV
  • Common register portal of the German federal states

Responsible for the content
Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action

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