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Gewerbeanmeldung Explained! How to register a business in Germany?

A simple step by step guide

For most sole traders in Germany, business begins at the trade licensing office. This article explains the process of Gewerbeanmeldung and documents you need to register your business in Germany.

register a business in germany Gewerbeanmeldung

Who must register a business in Germany?

Everyone who wants to take up self-employment is obliged to register a trade when starting their self-employment, e.g.

  • Online shop owners
  • Retailers
  • Gastronomes
  • Craftsmen
  • Service providers

The process of registering a business in Germany is known as Gewerbeanmeldung.

Freelancers are not required to go through a Gewerbeanmeldung. 


Unsure whether you are a

Freelancer or a Sole Trader?

What documents are required at the Trade Licensing Office (Gewerbeamt)?

In most cases, an identity card is sufficient for registering a business in Germany. However, for certain occupational groups, additional documents are required in order to register a trade.

There are various special cases requiring supervision or trades that require a permit. However, a trade licence according to § 34c of the Trade, Commerce and Industry Regulation Act (GewO) is required frequently.

For most business owners, only the following documents are necessary to register a trade:

What happens after registering a business in Germany?

Once your sole trade has been registered, there may be other registrations required for sole traders. This depends on the planned activity and legal form.

However, it is obligatory to register with the tax office and fill out the tax registration form. This is automatically sent to the sole trader after they have registered their business with the ‘Gewerbeamt‘.

Other steps include registering with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the trade associations.

FAQs: Gewerbeanmeldung in Germany

Most frequent questions and answers about registering a business in Germany.

Anyone who wants to carry out a commercial activity must register as a sole trader in Germany. 

Unsure whether you are a freelancer or a sole trader in Germany? 

Read our explanation here.

Depending on the city, it costs between 10 and 65 euros to register a business in Germany.

We recommend carrying cash, as not every trade office in Germany has the option of paying by card.

If you bring all the documents to your appointment, the registration can be done on-site at the trade office in 15 minutes.

The longest times for registering a business are likely to be for travel to and from the office and any waiting times.

After the business registration has been submitted, the tax office will contact you with the tax number after a few weeks.

The business registration can be made at the local trade office. A trade office is called Gewerbeamt.

You can find the trade office responsible for your city by searching for ‘Gewerbeamt + your city name’ in Google.

You can also use this online directory to find your local trade office.

Unfortunately, not everywhere. Although the number of trade offices that allow online business registration in Germany is steadily increasing. You can check the website of your local Gewerbeamt for info about Gewerbeanmeldung.  

Online registration allows business owners to fill out the trade registration form online and send it to their responsible trade office digitally.

Ideally, you should register your business in Germany at the time of starting your trade activity.

However, this does not mean that business owners can start immediately. Depending on the type of trade, certain additional registrations may be required, such as with the tax office or the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK/HWK).

It is not uncommon for founders to register their trade retroactively. The unofficial recommended deadline for this is usually three months.


In some cases, a trade can often be registered retroactively for several months or even years. You can obtain more information about this directly from the trade licensing office.

Fines are usually only levied if the deadline is exceeded by a longer period (up to three months). In this case, it depends on the goodwill of the responsible trade office.

There are only two legal forms of business that can be used for a small business:

  • Sole proprietorship (Einzelunternehmen)
  • Partnership under civil law (GbR)

Read more about legal forms of businesses in Germany.

You must register a business in Germany in two circumstances:

  • if an activity is generating a profit for you 

E.g, if you make cosplay or Halloween costumes out of fabric and ‘sell’ them to others for the price of the material, you are not running a business.

  • if an activity is permanent in nature

e.g. if you only sell costumes now and then or the ‘stock’ is cleared out for a few ‘sales’, you are not running a business in the legal sense.

Yes, it is possible to register several businesses in Germany.

Line by line guide for filling out Form for registering a trade in Germany

Before we go through the most important points of the form for registering your trade, you should take a look at the form.

You can download it online from almost any trade office.

In itself, the form for registering a business is not very extensive, but obtaining and applying for the required documents can be a bit more time-consuming. These should be ready when you register your business. You can register directly on-site, but many offices also offer online business registration.

Note for partnerships and corporations –

  • The business registration must be completed by the managing director.
  • In the case of team formations, each partner must complete a separate business registration for the same company.
  • Corporations, oHG: Before registering a business, the entry in the commercial register must be made.

Other steps include registering with the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the trade associations.


Sole proprietorship: Leave fields 1 and 2 blank.

GbR/oHG: In field 1 note that it is a GbR or oHG and enter all partners.

GmbH, UG, AG: Enter your company (company name) with legal form here. Enter the place and number of the register entry in field 2. Companies still to be entered are marked with the abbreviation “i. G.”. A copy of the notarial entry must be attached and entered in field 2.

3If a business name is available, it can be indicated here.

Personal details such as name, date of birth, nationality and address.

For team formations, please use a supplementary sheet (see below).


Sole proprietorships and registered traders leave this field blank.

For team foundations: The number of managing partners or legal representatives must be entered here.

13Tick the appropriate box.
14Enter the person authorised to represent the company here. Company managers only need to be entered for large companies, such as a new location.

Enter the place of business and its address in box 15. (Head office, branch office, dependent branch).

You can then specify this information in fields 16 and 17. If the business registration is a new branch or you are taking over an existing business, this can be noted here.

18In this field, define the planned activity as precisely as possible. Avoid general statements such as “trade in goods of all kinds” or “general services”. Explanations such as “Wholesale of electrical goods”, “Sanitary services” or “Manufacture of children’s toys” or similar are fine. When describing the purpose of the business, you should make sure that possible future additions on a small scale are not excluded.
19This information is for statistical purposes only.
20Here you indicate when you would like to start the planned activity.
21This field is used to assign your trade to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) or Chamber of Trade (HWK).
22Enter the number of employees at the start of the business here. This field must also be filled in if you do not (yet) have any employees. In this case, simply enter 0.
23-25Tick here whether your trade is a start-up, a takeover or similar and what type of trade it is.
26-27These fields are only relevant if the trade to be registered is not a start-up.
28-29If you require a business licence or other authorisation for the self-employed exercise of your planned activity, you must enter these and the existence of them here. For guidance, see our table on special permits above.
30If you are setting up from abroad, enter information on your residence title here.
31If the residence title contains conditions or restrictions, enter them here.
32-33Finally, do not forget the date of the business registration and your signature!

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