Business registration – how to register a business correctly (including business registration form)

The trade registration: Who has to register a business, where do you register a business, what are the requirements?? What documents do I have to take with me – and what is the trade license?? Grunderkuche explains the business registration step by step (as of 2021)

From Founder’s Kitchen Editorial Last updated 1. October 2021
© RRF – Fotolia

The business registration is in and of itself a fairly uncomplicated matter. Nevertheless, questions keep coming up: here is an overview of the most important ones.

Business registration – this is how it works!

1. Instructions: How to make a business registration?

To register a business, you basically only need 5 simple steps:

  • Step 1: Clarify whether you need to register a trade at all.
  • Step 2: Check the requirements, for example, whether you need a special permit such as a master craftsman’s certificate?
  • Step 3: Depending on the federal state, go to the Chamber of Commerce or the Trade Licensing Office – don’t forget your documents, including your identity card or passport with certificate of registration. Depending on the trade, it may be necessary to bring other documents, such as permits, permission certificates o.a.
  • Step 4: Fill out the "business registration" form.
  • Step 5: Hand in the form and take a copy with a stamp home with you.

Done – now the trade is registered. The certificate that you have officially registered a business is colloquially called a "Business license".

Tip "Prepare the business registration form" already:

Here we have prepared the business registration form for you to view as a pdf file. In many municipalities you can download it and fill it out already at home – this saves time at the office. If you click on the image, you will download the form business registration of the provider Formblitz, which we would like to thank here expressly for the service. This allows you to enter all data directly on the computer and print out the form.

Business registration template screenshots

2. Who may make the trade registration?

The trade is always applied for by the trader. Means, in the case of a sole proprietorship, the owner registers the business. In the case of a partnership, it is registered by the managing director or also by the managing partners, in the case of a corporation (z.B. GmbH) by the managing director.

3. Where do I have to register my business?

This varies. Depending on the federal state, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) or the Chamber of Crafts (Handwerkskammer) will take care of the business registration. the municipality.
Trade registration at the IHK: This is possible in Bavaria, Hamburg and Rhineland-Palatinate, for example. In other federal states, the municipality in which the company is to be located usually takes care of the business registration. It is then also entered and administered there in the corresponding municipal trade register.

4. Costs: What does a business registration cost??

The registration of a trade is in itself quickly done and also inexpensive. In many municipalities, the fees for registering a business are between 10 and 20 euros, with a maximum of 60 euros in Germany. But this is rather the exception.

Do not forget: Depending on the type of trade, however, you must plan for additional costs. For example, you will incur fees for the police certificate of good conduct or fees for the extract from the central business register.

5. Business registration possible in person, by mail or also online?

Whether you have to appear in person depends on the respective trade licensing office. For some, the application can also be submitted in writing by mail. The form can often be filled out online, but since you need a personal signature, the complete registration can usually not be done online. Only in Berlin the complete registration can be done online. For this, however, you must use the exta offered online form, here is the link to it.

Business registration basics: Who has to register a business at all??

"Who has to register a business?" or "Are freelancers also tradesmen??" – These are frequently asked questions that come up again and again. Our answers:

Are freelancers tradesmen or not??

Freelance activities are not subject to the Trade, Commerce and Industry Regulation Act and are legally exempt from the obligation to notify the exercise of a trade or business. This means that freelancers do not have to register a trade. And they also do not have to pay business tax. Which activities belong to the free occupations, one finds in §18 income tax law. Listed are the so-called catalog professions such as

  • Doctors,
  • Lawyers,
  • Pharmacists,
  • Artists,
  • Writers and journalists,
  • Lecturers and designers,
  • Consultants and lecturers.

All professions that have a similar job description are also counted among the free professions. However, this list of liberal professions is not exhaustive. The determination of whether you become a freelancer is always made by the tax office.

Also exempt from business registration are all those who engage in so-called primary production. These include

  • Agriculture,
  • for livestock breeding,
  • Fish farming,
  • Fishing and similar activities.

A business registration is not necessary for them.

Do I have to register a hobby as a business if I don’t earn any money with it??

A trade must only be registered by those who actually intend to make a profit with their activity. The emphasis here is on the word intention. Who manufactures wooden toys, in order to give it away afterwards or to the kindergarten for the wood price, operates no trade.

In addition, the activity must be permanent. Who sells its wooden toy, which makes however only once a summer, operates likewise no trade in the legal sense. The income generated must, however, be taxed as a matter of course.

What are the requirements for business registration?

In Germany the exercise of a trade is not bound to a permission. Everyone is allowed to work commercially. Only the announcement that one exercises a trade is obligatory. This is the business registration.

The only thing that is checked is whether you meet the basic requirements – such as being of age, legal capacity, and what kind of business you want to do.

There are special requirements only for individual trades, in which you must also prove your ability to practice the trade. This applies to

  • trades requiring registration (master craftsman’s degree or comparable qualification)
  • for care services,
  • for brokers and insurance agents,
  • for cab or goods transport business,
  • for driving schools,
  • for restaurants and gambling halls,
  • for trade with animals, but also weapons, ammunition and explosives,
  • for the guarding trade and for collection agencies,
  • For labor leasing and for self-employed accounting assistants.

In these cases, the authorities must first allow the exercise of the trade. With the granted permission one may exercise the trade then however. Such a permission of the authority is also called "concession".

Note on business registration

The business registration is only the first step to the own enterprise – registration with the tax office and if necessary also with the health insurance and other places are likewise necessary.

Further links to the business registration

You do not know if you are considered a freelancer? Ask for: Click here to go to the Federal Association of Liberal Professions.

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