How to create a legally compliant imprint

create legally correct imprint made easy two women at the computer

Almost every website needs a masthead. For this to be really legal and save you from warnings, there are a lot of rules to follow. We show you how you can easily create an imprint, what information must be included and where you should place the imprint on your website.

Who must create an imprint?

According to § 5 Telemediengesetz (TMG) is a Imprint for all websites mandatory, on which "business-like online services" are offered. According to § 55 of the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty, an imprint is also required for websites on which journalistic-editorial content is published that serves to form opinions.

The imprint obligation in practice: In these cases you need an imprint

What are now "business-like online services" and "journalistic-editorial content"?

Your website is considered to be businesslike as soon as you offer a product or service there in exchange for money. Even if you only include an affiliate link or an advertising banner, you could theoretically earn money with it and need an imprint.

The question of journalistic-editorial content, on the other hand, is not so easy to answer. Currently, it is not fully clarified whether bloggers, for example, also fall under this regulation – and if so, under what exact conditions.

However, the original reason for the imprint obligation is to clearly show users of a website who is communicating with them. An imprint is therefore also recommended for bloggers. If you want to be on the safe side, you should create an imprint in any case.

Violation of the imprint obligation: These are the consequences

If you do not have an imprint on your website, although you need one, or if important information is missing, you are threatened with a warning notice. Often this is suggested by competitors or consumer protection associations.

According to § 5 paragraph 1 TMG are fines of up to 50.000 Euro possible. In addition, you may be required to pay the costs of the warning yourself.

From personal data to the legal form: Your imprint needs the following mandatory information

In order for your imprint to be legally compliant, it must contain a range of information:

Website operator: This can be a natural person with first and last name as well as a company.

Address: Together with the name, the imprint must contain a complete, summonable address. Mailboxes are not enough.

Contact details: Write down your e-mail address and telephone number. If you have a fax, this number should also be included in the imprint.

Legal form: In the imprint, you must state whether your company is a GbR, GmbH, AG or other legal form.

Representation of the company: Depending on the legal form, the authorized partner, managing director or board of directors must be named.

Sales tax ID: If you have a VAT ID, this must also be included in the imprint.

Register entry: If your company is listed in a register (for example, commercial register), you must mention this in the imprint.

Additional information: Additional information may be required for certain legal forms or professions. This includes, among other things, the naming and linking of the responsible supervisory authority, the dispute resolution platform of the EU or the chamber of professions. The liability insurance must also be indicated under certain circumstances. In the case of journalistic-editorial content, a person responsible for the content must be named.

Templates and generators for your imprint

Creating a complete imprint is quite complex due to the many special regulations for individual legal forms and professions. On the Internet you will find many Imprint generators, to make this work easier for you. There, all necessary information is requested and put into the right form.

Known providers of imprint generators are:

Alternatively, you can hire a lawyer to create your imprint. This solution is the right one if you want to be completely sure that all legal requirements are met.

How to create an imprint in WordPress

Not only the contents of your imprint are subject to strict regulations. You also need to follow guidelines regarding the placement on your website.

In WordPress and other CMS systems you can create your imprint very easily: Create a new page in the backend of your website and copy the text of your imprint into it. Then you can format the details and save the page.

Legislation requires that the masthead on your website is easily visible and always available. It should be accessible from any page with just one click.

The easiest solution for this is to include your masthead in the menu or footer of your website. In both cases, you should clearly and unambiguously name the menu item as "imprint".

How exactly you can edit menu and footer depends on your theme. Usually you just click on the "Design" menu item in the backend. Under "Menu" you can customize your menu, under "Customizer" you can find the footer.

Conclusion: An imprint is mandatory for companies

An imprint is mandatory for almost all websites. Only if you write about entirely private topics without any commercial intent, you can do without it. Included must be, among other things, the name and address of your company, the person authorized to represent it, the contact details and the legal form of the company. In addition, there are various other details that vary by company.

The easiest and fastest way to create an imprint with a generator. After that, you just need to make sure to include the imprint properly: It must be accessible from every page of your website with one click.

Do not forget to check your imprint regularly! Incomplete or outdated information can also lead to warnings.

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Cover picture: KOBU Agency / Unsplash

Originally published on 6. July 2020, updated April 07 2021

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