Opening a new business in Germany

Germany is country located in the European continent. Known for having a tumultuous history due to their part in WW2, Germany has made great strides to improve. Now, Germany as a country has one of the most developed economies in the world. In fact, several of the world’s most prominent trade fairs occur in Germany. Furthermore, Germany is also home to the European Central Bank.

After the crippling debt and ostracization the country suffered in the wake of WW2, Germany built their economy to what it is today. Now, with a GDP of $4.000 trillion, Germany is the 4th richest country in the world. Moreover, they have with the nominal GDP per capita valued at $48,264, Germany is ranked as 16 out of 186 countries.

Furthermore, their human development index is 0.936, which makes Germany a country with a very high standard of living. This can be seen in various facets of German life-especially their unemployment rate at 3.4%. In addition to all of these, Germany has an easy of doing business rank of 24 out of 186. This indicates that as a country, they are very receptive to business transactions.

So, what does this bode for you? Well, as a new business owner, this means that Germany holds several opportunities for you.  Moreover, the government of Germany encourages foreign investment. Therefore, the process towards registering your company in Germany is made as simple as possible. Germany uses the unified European centric currency of the Euro. Although the official language of Germany is German, English is still widely spoken.

There are six types of legal structures available for companies in Germany. They are as follows:

  • The GesellschaftmitbeschränkterHaftung (GmbH) Private Limited Liability Company
  • The Aktiengesellschaft (AG) German Joint Stock Company
  • The OffeneHandelsgesellschaft (OHG) General Partnership
  • The Kommanditgesellschaft (KG) Limited Partnership
  • The sole proprietorship
  • The branch office

First, ensure you have the following pre-requisites satisfied:

  • If you are not a citizen of the EU, ensure that you have an employment visa valid in Germany
  • A minimum share capital amount of 25.000 EUR
  • A minimum of one shareholder and one manager (you can appoint the same person for both these roles)

Steps for registering your company in Germany as a foreign national

Following are the steps which need to be followed for opening a business in Germany:

Step 1- Legal Structure

The first step is to choose which legal structure you will follow for your company. You may choose from one of the six above. Do note that depending on which structure you choose; you will have to pay a different minimum share capital.

Step 2- Drafting your articles of association

Next, you will need to draw up a document declaring your articles of association. you may choose to use a template for this or you may use your own one.

Step 3- Choosing your company name

Now you will have to choose a name for your new company or business. This name will have to be unique and not similar to any previous company names. Therefore, you may contact the chamber of industry and commerce to verify if your name is available. You may also check their website here.

Step 4- Notarization of documents

Next, you will need to have all your important documents notarized by an appropriate legal figure. These documents include your articles of association.

Step 5- Opening a business bank account

Now, you will need to open a bank account under your company’s name. This is for you to deposit your minimum share capital amount. This is an extremely important step as once you have deposited the amount, the bank will issue a certificate. This certificate will then be used as proof towards registering your company.

Step 6- Submitting your documents

Now that you’ve collected all relevant documents, you will need to submit them to the German Commercial Register Office. At this stage you will also be asked to pay the registration fees of approximately 3200 EUR. Do note, the company founder will be asked to sign the application form in front of a legal representative.

Step 7- Registration with the labour office

Once you are done with the steps above, you will be tasked to register at the labour office of Germany. At this stage you will also be made to register for amenities such as for health and security.

Step 8- Acquiring your tax identification number

Finally, you will have to register at the tax office by submitting all relevant documents to them. This is so you are issued your unique tax identification number. After you are issued this number you will be given your official business registration license.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much you have to pay for opening a business in Germany?

Apart from the minimum investment, you will need to set aside at least 3200 EUR for registration costs.

How long it will take to incorporate a business in Germany?

If all goes smoothly, this process will only take 7-10 business days.

How much do I need for a minimum investment?

You will need to deposit a minimum of 25000 EUR as a share capital

How many directors/shareholders do I need for omen a business in Germany?

You will need a minimum of one shareholder and one manager. Fortunately, you can appoint the same person for both these roles. They do not need to be a German resident/citizen.

What law does Germany follow?

Germany follows the system of civil law.

What is the rate of corporate tax in Germany?

The rate of corporate tax is 15%


Company Registration Expert Since 2012