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German Company Registration

Updated on :  

08 min read.

Germany is the number one choice for an entrepreneur to start a company in the European continent. The location of Germany is centric on the European continent, thus providing business development and a vast opportunity for networking across the continent. All European countries are easily accessible from Germany through different modes of transportation. Therefore, Germany is the favourite choice for business owners to establish their business internationally.

Germany is also conducive to new businesses for many reasons. The German Government supports in providing training for businesses to carry out various activities. Since the economy of Germany is business-friendly, it is easy for entrepreneurs and investors to register their companies in Germany.

Benefits of Company Registration in Germany

  • Easy access to many European countries since it is centrally located.
  • Highly skilled workforce.
  • Effective regulative measures from the state.
  • Based on a free-market economy.
  • High productivity rates and quality standards.
  • Europe’s most cost-effective location. 
  • Europe’s top logistics market due to its transportation infrastructure.
  • Availability of world-class infrastructural facilities.
  • Availability of government support in training and recruitment.
  • Germany has signed treaties with more than 90 countries, including Canada, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Netherlands, etc.
  • Provides low-interest loans, grants and other government initiatives for small business entities.
  • There is no form of exchange control for foreign investment opportunities; thus, foreign firms are allowed to make investments in Germany.

Types of Company Structure in Germany

Before registering a company in Germany, knowing the type of business structure an entrepreneur can choose for the company incorporation is essential. Below are the types of business structures:

Limited Liability Company (GmbH)

A limited liability company can be established by a minimum of one investor with a minimum share capital of 25,000 EUR. However, the shares of the limited liability company cannot be transferred to the public, and it cannot be registered on the Stock Market. The director appointed through the shareholders’ general meeting takes the day-to-day decisions in the company.

German Joint Stock Company (AG)

The german joint stock company is suited for large businesses. It requires to have a minimum share capital of 50,000 EUR. The company members will have limited liability, and the company shares can be freely registered in the Stock Market. A supervisory board consisting of at least three members will regularly check the company management performance. A statutory auditor should also be appointed to audit the company accounts.

German Limited Partnership

A German limited partnership is an arrangement between two or more people who decide to work together with mutual understanding. It requires a minimum of two partners. There can be two types of partners based on liability. One is the general partner, having an unlimited liability extending to his/her personal assets. Another type is the limited partner, whose liability extends only to his/her nominal holdings in the partnership firm. The general partners have decisional powers, while the silent partners cannot participate in the management decisions.

Sole Trader

A sole trader can be easily formed in Germany as it only requires one individual to establish it with his/her personal assets. However, the individual has unlimited liability when the sole trader faces bankruptcy. The profits of the sole trader are subject to individual income tax rates.

Branch

Branches are a popular method to enter the German market. Many foreign investors choose to start a branch. Setting up a branch to a parent company is popular, especially when the foreign investors are not sure about long-term operations. It is easy to establish a German branch office. The foreign investors are only required to register with the local trade office and the commercial register for setting up a branch. However, it is not a legal entity; its liabilities and assets belong to the parent company. The parent company will retain the entire responsibility of the branch on legal and tax matters. 

Prerequisites of Company Registration in Germany 

Articles of Association

The first step of company incorporation in Germany is drafting the Article of Association (AoA). All companies must have an AoA. After drafting the AoA, other accompanying documents must be compiled, such as passport copies, the specimen of signatures, a local bank account, a company registration form, etc. The entrepreneurs must get all the documents notarised by a public notary officer in Germany.

Minimum Capital Requirements

The minimum required share capital for incorporating a German Joint Stock Company is 50,000 EUR. The minimum share capital required for starting a private limited company is 25,000 EUR. However, an entrepreneur can also begin a Private Limited Company (GmbH) with a minimum share capital of one Euro. In such a case, the company will be termed as a mini GmbH (UG) company. When the mini GmbH (UG) earns a profit of 25,000 EUR, it will be elevated to the GmbH category without incurring an additional cost.

Director and Shareholder

There must be a minimum of one shareholder for establishing a company in Germany. The shareholder can be a corporate entity or an individual. The minimum director to establish a company is one director of any nationality. The director can be a corporate entity or an individual. The shareholder and director can also be the same person of any nationality.

Local Address

There must be a local registered office address of the company. An entrepreneur should have a physical registered address and place in Germany for carrying out the business before applying for company registration.

Bank Account

The entrepreneur must also open a bank account of the company in Germany. The entrepreneur must provide the company’s bank account details while applying for its registration. The director or a company representative should visit Germany to open a bank account.

German Commercial Register

The district court manages the German Commercial Register. It is free of cost and open to public view. A company can also access the Germany Commercial Register online through the Common Register Portal of the German Federal States.

Once the company name is entered into the Germany Commercial Register, it is recognised officially as a legal entity.  The entrepreneurs need to contact a notary who will file a certified electronic form to register the company in the Germany Company Registry. 

The entry of the company name in the German Commercial Register is part of the establishment process. The company registration will be effective only when its name is entered in the German Commercial Register. 

The German Commercial Register contains all the information about relationships between commercial companies and merchants. It includes information on the partner’s name, managing director, liability limitations, capital stock, insolvency proceedings opening, and the company’s dissolving or ending details. 

Process of Company Registration in Germany

The company registration process in Germany is as follows:

  • The first thing to do is choose the company type. The company can be a limited liability company, a joint stock company or a partnership. The company type can be selected based on the capital and number of founders.
  • The company founders must file an application with the local chamber of the Department of Industry and Commerce for verification of the company name. The company needs to be unique and should not be similar to the name of an already existing registered company. Company founders can check the availability of the company name before filing for its verification. 
  • The company founders must draft the AoA once the company name is approved. They must also get it notarised by the public notary officer in Germany.
  • Next, it is necessary to open a local bank account of the company in Germany. The limited liability company and joint stock company must have a minimum share capital. The minimum share capital should be deposited in the bank account.
  • The company founder must submit the application for registration, notarised AoA, details of management board structure and the share capital to the German Commercial Register. They can also submit it in electronic form. The notary will file the AoA to the German Commercial Register.
  • After the company name is entered in the German Commercial Register, it should apply to the Business Standards Office of the chamber of the Department of Industry and Commerce chamber or the trade license.
  • The company should also obtain an 8-digit operating number from the labour office to register social insurance and health employees. This number will be reported as the company’s Social Security Number (SSN). 
  • The company should approach the appropriate tax department to register for corporate tax. It will also include German VAT registration.
  • After all the process mentioned above is complete, the company can officially carry out business operations in Germany.

Documents Required for Germany Company Registration 

The entrepreneurs willing to establish a company in Germany must submit the following documents to the German Commercial Register to start the registration process:

  • Registered local office address of the company.
  • Company’s Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association. 
  • Passport copy of the directors and shareholders.
  • National identity card copy of the directors and shareholders. 
  • Recent bank statements, utility bills, or credit card statements containing the directors’ and shareholders’ residential addresses and names.
  • A document showing the management board structure.
  • Visa of the director, in case of a foreign resident.
  • Board resolution having details of the branch formation or subsidiary nominating an authorised manager, if applicable.
  • Certificate showing that the required share capital was deposited in the bank, if applicable.
  • Any other information as requested by the notary.

Disclaimer: The materials provided herein are solely for information purposes. No attorney-client relationship is created when you access or use the site or the materials. The information presented on this site does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be relied upon for such purposes or used as a substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your state.

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