How do I register my business?

Before you launch your new business, you are required to register it with the Trade Office [Gewerbeamt] and the Tax Office [Finanzamt].

Step 1: Register your business with the Trade Office [Gewerbeamt]

Local municipalities require a registration of commercial activities at the trade office of the respective municipal administration. Is Munich going to be the seat or place of management of your future business? In this case please turn to the Trade Office at the Department of Public Order [Kreisverwaltungsreferat – KVR]. Complete and submit the business registration form [Gewerbeanmeldung”] (PDF, 144 KB). Use our English language fill-in help to guide you through the business registration form.

In Germany, everyone is essentially free to register a business.

But: Some trades or businesses require special permits or monitoring [erlaubnispflichtige und überwachungsbedürftige Gewerbe]. Many skilled craft trades [zulassungspflichtige Gewerbe im Handwerk] require a permit or license or from the local  Chamber of Skilled Crafts [Handwerkskammer – HWK]. An exception applies to those activities that either qualify as “zulassungsfreie und handwerksähnliche Tätigkeiten” or are not regarded as part of the skilled craft trade at all.

Moreover, check if you have a valid residence permit that allows you to go self-employed.

The Trade Office lists the documents required for a business registration, such as:

  • Completed business registration form [Gewerbeanmeldung]
  • a copy of your identity document such as an identity card [Personalausweis] or passport [Reisepass]
  • if you are not a national of an EU country: valid residence permit including a permit entitling them to go self-employed
  • Supplement for authorised representatives: letter of attorney, competent proof of identification of the principal and the authorized representative
  • Supplement for minors: agreement of the parent or legal guardian (for sideline businesses) or permission of the guardianship court [Vormundschaftsgericht] (for main businesses)
  • entities listed in the registers of companies, cooperatives and partnerships or of associations [Handelsgister, Genossenschaftsregister, Vereinsregister] are required to submit a copy of an up-to-date and complete excerpt from their register
  • trades requiring a special permit [erlaubnispflichtige und überwachungsbedürftige Gewerbe]: submit a copy of the permit
  • skilled craft trades requiring a license [zulassungspflichtige Gewerbe im Handwerk]: submit a copy of the license [Handwerkskarte]

After submitting your business registration form and documents, the Trade Office will issue an acknowledgement of receipt [Gewerbeschein]. Please note that the “Gewerbeschein” does not replace any legally required permits or licenses.

Forms 

Business registration form [Gewerbeanmeldung] (PDF, 145 KB), available in German language only

Fill-in help with explanations in English language

 

Learn more about business registration from the Munich Trade Office:

www.muenchen.de

Telefon: 089 233-96030

 

Fees

  • Registration in Munich costs about EUR 50 to 60 depending on the legal structure of your business.
  • Additional fees apply when permits and licenses are required.

When do you register your business?

  • You are obliged to register your self-emplyoment either before you start operating it or at the same time as starting it.

How do you register your business?

  • Register in person at the Trade Office after setting up an appointment:
    Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR), Hauptabteilung III, Gewerbeangelegenheiten und Verbraucherschutz, Gewerbemeldungen
    Implerstraße 11, 81371 München
    Book an appointment online
  • Register by post mail or email:
    Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR), Hauptabteilung III, Gewerbeangelegenheiten und Verbraucherschutz, Gewerbemeldungen
    Ruppertstr. 19, 80466 München
    email: gewerbemeldung.kvr@muenchen.de

Step 2: Register your business with the Tax Office [Finanzamt]

You have to inform the tax office no later than one month after starting your self-employment.

Schmuckbild

Since January 1st,  2021 you are obliged to submit the tax assessement questionnaire without prior notice from the tax office.

 

The tax office responsible for you is determined by where you generate your income. In Munich turn to the Munich Tax Office [Finanzamt München].

Registering at the tax office is done digitally, as all forms relating to tax registration are now only available via ELSTER, the online portal used by the government’s financial administrative authorities.

  • Step 1: Start by registering at www.elster.de – it only needs to be done once, is free, and requires no software installation.
  • Step 2: Your login details will then be sent to you, for security reasons, in two stages (by email and by post). Step 2:  Registration is then complete.

Via your user account you can go to the “Formulare & Leistungen > Alle Formulare” (“Forms & services > All forms”) section, fill out the “Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung” (“Tax Assessment Questionnaire”), and submit the completed form online to the tax office using ELSTEROnly after the tax office has received the completed questionnaire and the necessary documents can the tax number be issued and a VAT value-added tax assessment be made. You need the tax number in order to write invoices. Learn more in our post “Taxes & Accounting“.

English language information:

SchmuckbildMunich Tax Office: Important information on tax registration when starting an entrepreneurial activity (PDF, 150 KB)

Munich Tax Office: Glossary of Tax Terms (PDF, 855 KB)

German language information, please use a translation tool of your choice:

SchmuckbildAnleitung zur Anmeldung beim Finanzamt (PDF, MB)

 

Munich Tax Office: Tax Assessment Questionnaire [Fragebögen für die steuerliche Erfassung]

Munich Tax Office:  Contact persons for founders [Ansprechpartner für Gründer*innen]

Munich Tax Office: Tax information for founders [steuerliche Infos für Gründer*innen]

“Mein ELSTER portal”: instructions for the Tax Assessment Questionaire [Anleitung zum Fragebogen für die steuerlichen Erfassung]

Federal business startup portal: tax offices [Finanzamt]

 

FAQ: What is the difference between “Steuer-ID”, “Steuernummer” and “Umsatzsteuer-ID”?

  • The “Steuer-ID” (tax identification number) consists of 11 digits, is specific to an individual, retains life-long validity, and is issued by the Federal Central Tax Office.
  • The “Steuernummer” (tax number) consists of 10 or 11 digits, usually divided by two forward slashes. It is issued by your local tax office when registering for taxation, for example if you are an employee or starting self-employment work . It is possible to have multiple tax numbers, for example if you are employed but also have a self-employed sideline job.
  • The “Umsatzsteuer-ID” (VAT identification number, abbreviated as USt-IdNr.) starts with the EU country abbreviation, DE for Germany, followed by up to twelve digits. Entrepreneurs are given this number in addition to the above-mentioned tax number for their work as a tradesperson or freelancer. It is issued by the Federal Central Tax Office. Entrepreneurs can apply for the VAT identification number via the “Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung” form (“Tax Assessment Questionnaire”). It is important for business transactions between companies in different EU countries.

Tip

Plan up to two weeks to complete your registration using the ELSTER portal. It can take a few weeks from submitting your “Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung” via Elster to receiving your tax number.  You might consider to start the ELSTER registration process before taking any other important starts to set up your business. If you have any technical difficulties, contact the ELSTER hotline here. Contact the tax office service desk here for general information over the phone. Contact a tax consultant of your choice for advice relating to taxes.

Tip

Are you considering to start self-employed work as a member of the liberal professions? Find out first if you qualify.

Further Steps

Please check, if you are obliged to register with other institutions and authorities such as the social insurance agencies, if you require any offical licenses or permits and which rules and regulations might be important when running your business.