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Register a trade

A business registration is always necessary when you start a standing business. This is the case when

  • Setting up a new business,
  • Setting up a new branch office,
  • Setting up a dependent branch,
  • Taking over an existing business, e.g. by purchase or lease,
  • Conversion of a sole proprietorship into another legal form,
  • Transfer of a business from the area of one authority to the area of another authority (considered as an abandonment by one authority and as a new establishment by the other authority).

The business registration must be made at the same time as the start of the business.

  • The obligation to notify exists only if it is a commercial activity. The activities listed in section 6(1) sentence 1 GewO are exempt from the obligation to notify.
    Among others, the following are exempt:
  • Primary production (livestock breeding, agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing)
  • Liberal professions (including lawyers, notaries, tax consultants, auditors, doctors, scientific, artistic and literary activities)
  • Education of children for remuneration

The purpose of registering a trade is to enable the competent authority to monitor the exercise of the trade and to conduct statistical surveys.

Prerequisite

You want to operate a trade. Traders are natural persons or legal entities (public limited company, limited liability company, registered cooperative or registered association, partnership limited by shares). The following must be notified:

  • in the case of sole traders, the sole trader,
  • in the case of partnerships (e.g. OHG, GbR), the managing partners,
  • in the case of a KG, each personally liable partner, the limited partners of a KG only if they have management authority
  • in the case of corporations (e.g. GmbH, AG), the legal representative

Responsible department

the municipal/city administration of your future place of business

Procedure

You must register the start of a standing trade with the competent authority. The same applies to the operation of a branch office or a dependent branch.

Some business activities require a permit. Others are subject to supervision. Additional requirements apply to them.

Find out at an early stage which personal, financial and professional requirements you must fulfil in order to be able to work in these trades.

You can register your trade in person, in writing or electronically. Use the form "Trade registration" (GewA 1). You can also register your trade via the network of points of single contact.

If you are not registering the trade yourself, but as a managing partner or legal representative, you need a written power of attorney.

If you register your trade in writing or electronically, you will receive confirmation of your trade registration (the so-called "trade certificate") within 3 days, provided you have filled out the registration form completely and correctly. If you go in person, you will receive the confirmation directly at the time of registration.

The competent office will forward the trade registration to other offices such as the tax office, the Chamber of Crafts or the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the registration court and the employers' liability insurance association.

If a permit is also required for your trade (e.g. guarding trade, operation of a restaurant) and this is not available, the competent office can prohibit the continuation of the business.

Deadlines

You must register your trade immediately at the time of setting up the business. A fine may be imposed for late notification.

Required documents

  • Completed business registration form
  • Proof of identity (e.g. identity card or passport with registration certificate)
  • in the case of electronic business registration, other means of identification are also possible (e.g. electronic identity card, De-Mail, PIN/TAN procedure).
  • notarised articles of association or excerpt from the commercial register, consent of the shareholders (in the case of legal entities or partnerships)

Costs

The amount of the fees is determined by the municipal fee statutes.

Processing time

  • In the case of a personal visit: immediately
  • In case of written or electronic registration: within 3 days, provided that the business registration form has been filled in completely and correctly and the required documents are available.

Detailed information

When you change your legal form, you must file both a trade deregistration (for ceasing to operate under the old legal form) and a trade registration (for starting to operate under the new legal form).

What is a trade:

A trade is any activity that is not socially unvaluable, is intended to generate a profit, is intended to be permanent, and is carried out independently in one's own name and for one's own account. It does not matter whether a profit is actually made.

In particular, socially unvaluable activities (e.g. clairvoyance), liberal professions (such as doctors, lawyers or tax consultants) or other activities that require a university degree are not trades. Nor are primary production (e.g. agriculture and forestry), scientific management consultancy or the management of one's own assets (e.g. an apartment building) as well as generally prohibited or socially unvaluable activities (e.g. illegal gambling).

Miscellaneous

In some cases, you will have to submit further documents or proof. Please enquire with the competent authority.

Additional special requirements apply to trades that require a permit or supervision.

Appeal

There is no appealable remedy, as the acknowledgement of receipt does not contain a decision. If necessary, a failure to issue a receipt can be pursued with an action for performance. It might be more effective to enquire at the competent trade office.

Release note

  • 14.09.2023 Wirtschaftsministerium Baden-Württemberg