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Expanding your business to Germany: The basics

Starting a business in Germany as a foreign entrepreneur requires a number of steps and can take several weeks or months to complete. The following is an overview of the registration requirements, procedure, and timeline for setting up a business in Germany.

Choose a business structure

The first step in starting a business in Germany is to choose a business structure. Foreign entrepreneurs' most common types of business structures are the sole proprietorship, the limited liability company (GmbH), and the joint-stock corporation (AG). Each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to choose the one that best suits the needs of your business.

Register for taxes

Once you have chosen a business structure, you will need to register for taxes. This includes registering for value-added tax (VAT) and obtaining a tax identification number (TIN). You will also need to register for social security and obtain a social security number.

Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Depending on the type of business you plan to start, you may need to obtain various permits and licenses. For example, if you plan to open a restaurant, you will need to obtain a food and beverage permit. If you plan to import or export goods, you will need to obtain customs clearance.


Open a bank account

In order to do business in Germany, you will need to open a bank account. This is typically done at a local bank and requires proof of identification and proof of address.

Register the business

Once you have taken care of the above steps, you can register your business with the local trade office (Gewerbeamt). This typically requires submitting an application and providing various documents, such as the articles of incorporation and the business registration certificate.

Obtain liability insurance

Obtaining liability insurance is mandatory for certain types of businesses in Germany. This insurance protects your company from financial losses due to third-party claims.


The above steps can take several weeks or months to complete, depending on the type of business and the location where you plan to start your business. Fortunately, you can enlist the help of our advisers!


In summary, starting a business in Germany as a foreign entrepreneur involves choosing a business structure, registering for taxes, obtaining necessary permits and licenses, opening a bank account, registering the business, and obtaining liability insurance. It is a process that can take several weeks or months to complete and requires careful attention to detail to ensure that everything is done correctly. To facilitate this process, you enlist the help of FIRM24! Schedule an online consultation with one of our advisers on expanding your business to Germany here. One of our advisers will be in contact with you within 24 hours!

Published on 6 July 2023
Adam Cambridge linkedin
Adam is our English content writer and studies International Business Law at Leiden University

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