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How to set up a business in Germany and where to find help

If you have an excellent business idea, Germany is the best place to implement it for several reasons.

The people here have a significant spending power and the country has an innovative climate.


Germany has a dense transport network right in the centre of Europe in addition to having highly skilled workers.

In the following article you will find information on how to successfully set up your business in Germany and where to find the support you need.

General requirements for setting up an own business
In Germany there are a few general legal requirements you have to fulfil before you can set up your own business.

One of the essential requirements is that you must be an adult, meaning at least 18 years of age.

You must also not have problems with the law and never been banned from practicing the profession you intend to set up a business in. Such prohibitions can be imposed by courts after serious offences.

It is essential to register your planned activity before you start your own business. The registration can be done with either the trade office (Gewerbeamt) or the tax office (Finanzamt), depending on whether you intend to work on a self-employed basis (gewerblich) or as a freelancer (freiberuflich).

For some professions, you will need to prove that you do not have a criminal record. EU citizens resident in Germany can usually apply for a “European certificate of good conduct” at your local registration office. If you are from a different country, you will need to obtain a comparable document from the competent authority in your country.

Registration and bureaucracy
You’ll have to deal with some paperwork before you can set up a business in Germany.

The first important decision you must make is whether you are going to work on a self-employed (gewerblich) basis or freelance (freiberuflich) basis. If you decide to operate as a freelancer, then you’ll need to register with the tax office (Finanzamt).

But if you plan to operate as a self-employed entrepreneur, then you will need to contact your local trade office (Gewerbeamt).

The Authority Finder will guide you towards the authorities you’ll need to deal with and will tell you where they are.

While it may be challenging to deal with the various authorities, it is advisable to try and utilize their support. If you prepare well for your meetings with the authorities, they will most likely be supportive.

Make use of advisory services for entrepreneurs
The success of your business will depend on support from an expert in the field.

Comprehensive advice from an expert is very useful especially in the preparatory stages.

You can seek help from many public information centres in Germany while setting up your own business.

On the Startup Portal, under “advice and information”, you will find the contact information of regional and national information centres for entrepreneurs with a migrant background.

A general contact list is available on the Startup Portal. Similarly, the Authority Finder will also tell you about your nearest information centre.

You can also seek advice from a private consultancy firm. In some German states you can find grants towards the cost of this kind of consultancy. What is important is that your place of residence and your company’s registered office is in Germany. The Startup Portal will tell you how to apply for this grant.

You are advised to be properly prepared for the consultation to discuss your business idea. Make sure you know what your objectives are.

Important information for women
Women who want to start their businesses can find help by logging on to the Startup Portal for Female Entrepreneurs. Here they can find information about advisory services which are especially geared to female entrepreneurs.

This article has been prepared using information provided by Make it in Germany.