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The entitlement to run a skilled crafts business in self-employment and as a fixed location business (stehendes Gewerbe) is controlled by the Crafts Act (Handwerksordnung - HwO). A fixed location business includes any business whose operations are not assigned to the itinerant trade or to market transactions. A commercial subsidiary is not a prerequisite.

The skilled crafts industry offers a wide variety of occupational fields. Within the different trades, there are skilled crafts which require a licence and those which do not.

Skilled crafts requiring a licence

You may only run a skilled crafts business requiring a licence if you are registered in the Register of Craftsmen (Handwerksrolle). You normally need to have a master craftsman's certificate or a corresponding qualification.

Once you have registered in the Register of Craftsmen, you can get a licence for another skilled craft requiring a licence or for significant parts of a skilled craft requiring a licence. The prerequisite is proof of the relevant skills.

Skilled crafts which do not require a licence and craft-related trades

As opposed to skilled crafts requiring a licence, you can become self-employed in the skilled crafts which do not require a licence and craft-related trades without any particular admission requirements. The craft-related trades include simple activities from the skilled crafts sector. It is usually not possible to acquire the master craftsman's certificate in these trades.

You have to register a craft not requiring a license or a craft-related business without delay to the Chamber of Crafts and Trades in whose district the commercial subsidiary is located. The Chamber of Crafts and Trades does not register you in the Register of Craftsmen but in the directory of owners of a skilled crafts business not requiring a licence or a crafts-related business.

Advice for business start-ups in the craft and trade sector

The Ministry for Economic Affairs promotes short, low-cost consultations. The team at BWHM GmbH, a consulting and business development agency for small and medium-sized companies and crafts and trades, is your point of contact for crafts and trades and for small and medium-sized companies when starting up and acquiring a business. Their services range from general start-up advice and creating business plans to complete support with acquiring a business. Basic advice is available free of charge through the Starter Centre at the Baden-Württemberg Chambers of Crafts and Trades. BWHM GmbH in on hand to provide a two-stage, funded consultation for in-depth questions and the implementation for entrepreneurs and people acquiring a business.

Release note

The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Wirtschaftsministerium released it on 30.08.2017. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.

In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.