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Trade/other commercial activity

General information

In Germany, the freedom of trade applies in principle to the exercise of a trade without reference to crafts or the liberal professions. For you as a trader from a member state of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland, the same rules and regulations apply as for traders who have registered their trade in Germany.

Which legal regulations do I have to observe?

When carrying out business activities in Germany, the German Trade, Commerce and Industry Regulation Act (Gewerbeordnung – GewO) and the specialist laws relevant to the respective activity must be observed.

Special features apply to:

  • Businesses with special requirements
  • Businesses in need of monitoring
  • Businesses subject to authorisation

Which commercial activities in Germany are subject to supervision or authorisation and which commercial activities are subject to special requirements can be found for the most common fields of activity in the following PDF file (download).

What do I have to do to settle in Germany?

    Compulsory formalities for taking up and exercising the service

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    First of all, the commencement of an independent operation of the standing commercial activity or the operation of an affiliate or a dependent branch must be registered with the competent authority.

    Further information on registering a commercial activity can be obtained from the electronic application wizard:

    => go to the electronic commercial activity registration

    In the case of only temporary or occasional commercial activity practice in Germany, traders from the above-mentioned countries do not have to register their commercial activities separately in Germany.

      Possible formalities for starting and exercising the service

      Commercial activities with special conditions
      Special requirements are particularly common in food-related commercial activities. These mainly concern hygiene and health protection regulations. In this respect, a licence to serve food, a certificate of compliance with hygiene and health regulations and, in the case of the serving of alcohol on special occasions, a temporary restaurant permit are required.

      For more information, click the following topic:

      Commercial activities subject to authorisation

      In the case of commercial activities requiring authorisation, it is generally a question of the personal reliability and economic capacity of the trader and proof of expertise, which must be provided, if necessary, via one of the competent chambers of industry and commerce in Schleswig-Holstein.

      You can find out which office is responsible for the individual administrative services you require by using the Schleswig-Holstein remit finder. The corresponding application forms are also available there. It is also possible to apply via the Schleswig-Holstein single point of contact.

      => go to the Schleswig-Holstein remit finder

      Electronic application assistants for commercial activities requiring authorisation

      A selection of electronic application assistants is available via the Schleswig-Holstein single point of contact, which could be considered in the course of commercial activities requiring a permit. However, this list is not exhaustive.

      Is the administrative service you are looking for not listed?

      You can use this assistant to apply for all administrative services that can be processed via the EA-SH.

      => zum EA-SH Online-Assistent go to the EA-SH online assistant

      Commercial activities subject to monitoring

      In the case of business activities requiring supervision, a police clearance certificate and information from the central business register (if available in the country of origin) are generally required. Since 27.04.2012, according to § 30 b BZRG, persons with citizenship of an EU member state can also apply for a "European Certificate of Good Conduct". This enables EU citizens to provide complete evidence that they have not been convicted of any criminal offence in their country of origin. The application for the certificate of good conduct can be submitted via the local regulatory authorities or electronically via the online portal of the Federal Office of Justice.

      For more information, click the following topic:

      European Certificate of Good Conduct

      Online portal of the Federal Office of Justice

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