Location and premises

Legal prerequisites, building and zoning regulations for commercial use of premises in Munich

On this web page you will find important basic information concerning framework conditions, and contact points. This information is intended to provide an initial orientation to those with limited German proficiency. It does not claim to be a full and exhaustive treatment of all legal aspects. We would like to point out that most of the subsequent links to websites, documents and forms are generally not available in languages other than German.

Step 1: Find an adequate location

Where is the best place to set up your business? That depends on the specific nature of your business project.

Find out what location factors are important for you:

  • Are passing customers important to your business?
  • Or is close proximity to suppliers and partners better?
  • What about the local competitive landscape?
  • Do you need easy access to your premises?
  • Check size, condition and furnishings of the property, environmental issues such as noise protection, fire protection, rental price.
  • Are there industry-specific requirements for the property such as ventilation system, restrooms, ceiling loads, parking spaces, accessibility?
  • How will the location develop in the future?
  • Are industry centers, start-up centers, coworking spaces or business centers are a good starting point for you?
  • Is interim and long-term workspace use an option for you?
Step 2: Check suitability

1. General requirements

Do the building, the floor-plan layout, the cost and the surrounding environment match up with your plans? If that is the case, pay attention to all relevant industry specific regulations and building requirements.

Although commercial and residential leases both are contracts for the use of real estate and share common features, there are several differences. For example residential leases offer many legal protections that don’t apply to commercial contracts. The local Chamber of Commerce and Industry has provided a free template for a commercial lease agreement.

2. Industry specific requirements

There are regulations for health care facilities and medical offices or for childcare premises. When handling food, the space used for storing, handling and processing must be in accordance with food hygiene regulations. This also applies to home-based food businesses and mobile food vendors. The law on shop closing hours regulates when retail stores must be closed. There are federal, state and local laws.

3. Zoning and building requirements

There are construction and planning records for each property in Munich. The records contain information on jurisdiction, zoning, and development activity and development constraints. Start by verifying if your preferred location is a good candidate for zoning approval. Zoning refers to municipal or local laws and regulations that govern how land may be used. Each zone allows certain activities or uses and prohibits others. The local construction authority [Lokalbaukommission] based at the Munich Department of Urban Planning and Building Regulations enforces these zoning regulations, reviews projects and proposals for compliance, and issues certain permits. Please check with Lokalbaukommission to determine if sales and service uses are allowed at your preferred location. Confirm property owner consent, too.   Entrepreneurs are strongly encouraged to obtain zoning approval and permits for any structural alterations from Lokalbaukommission before signing any contracts, such as a commercial lease or a loan agreement.

Are you planing a home-based business? To find out whether your home complies to residential zoning rules allow, please contact Lokalbaukommission. Depending on your type of business, you may also need additional special permits relating to signage, noise levels or health issues.

Research the following points to find out about zoning and building requirements:

  • Which use is allowed according to the rental agreement?
  • Which use is allowed according to the construction permit?
    • Are you going to continue the previous type of commercial use?
    • Do you need to pay a transfer fee [Ablöse] to the previous tenant?
    • Do you need to request a change of use e.g. previously retail, now catering business?
    • You need to deal with building regulations not only when constructing a new building or expanding an existing workspace but also when modifying rooms within a building. And furthermore, building regulations may also be relevant when merely renting premises for your business, depending on the intended use. If you wish to use rooms that were previously used for other purposes than your future business facility, you will need to apply for a change of use. Inquire about any parking requirements, too.
  • Are structural alterations and a planning permission necessary? This might be the case when fire safety measurements, a ventilation system or noise insulation is required.

When applying for a building permit [Antrag auf Baugenehmigung] various issues must be taken into account. The following regulations for example might be applicable:

  • Barrier free accessibility
  • Municipal fees for the provision of parking spaces may apply [Stellplatzsatzung der Stadt München]
  • Noise prevention, protection of historic monuments [Denkmalschutz] and fire safety (advice in Munich is given by the Branddirektion)
  • Verify with the Wohnungsamt of the Munich Social Services if you require a permit to use your home for non-residential purposes. As a general rule, you can only use housing for non-residential purposes with the permission of Munich Social Services. Misuse of housing, the so-called “Zweckentfremdung”, is prohibited in Munich.  More information on Zweckentfremdung and an English video tutorial.
  • It can be very helpful to have a professional create complete and accurate drawings that comply with the building code and zoning regulations. For some projects, you must commission a design author e.g. civil engineer or a licensed architect who is authorized to submit building documents.

Portals such as GeoPortal München offer insight into land development and utilization plans. The FAQs contain answers about the use of the GeoPortal. If you need up-to-date maps, plans, or geodata in analogue or digital form, you should contact the “Servicezentrum GeodatenService München” (“Munich Geodata Service Centre”).

All of this must be coordinated in good time with the local authorities. We strongly recommend clarifying building regulations prior to signing any contracts such as a commercial lease agreement, a loan agreement or other legally binding documents.

This text is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional legal advice and cannot replace consultation with your municipal building department. In Munich turn to the Lokalbaukommission of the Department of Urban Planning and Building Regulations. Please note that in addition to a building permit further licenses or permits might be required.

Industry specific regulations: food businesses

Visit our food business page to learn about:

  • Choosing the right premises for storing, processing, preparing and selling food
  • Requirements for home-based food businesses
  • Requirements for mobile food vendors
  • Food hygiene for handling food: courses, permits and other requirements
  • Outdoor seating area

Please note that several restrictions apply when you plan to run a food business from home. These range from compliance with food hygiene regulations to building and zoning regulations as well as misuse of housing (Zweckentfremdung).

Working out of an office at home (Häusliches Arbeitszimmer)

Working from home by establishing a dedicated office space in their apartment or house is an option for many entrepreneurs. To be on the safe side, you should first notify your landlord.

Verify with the Wohnungsamt of the Munich Social Services if you require a permit to use your home for non-residential purposes. As a general rule, you can only use housing for non-residential purposes with the permission of Munich Social Services. Misuse of housing, the so-called “Zweckentfremdung”, is prohibited in Munich.  More information on Zweckentfremdung and an English video tutorial.

In some cases, a home office can be tax-deductible. Taxpayers must meet specific requirements to claim home expenses as a deduction. Ask your tax advisor for details and

Please be aware: Should you wish to use private living space for other commercial purposes e.g. for storage, meetings or producing, you usually need to apply for a building permit [Antrag auf Baugenehmigung] with the local construction authority [Lokalbaukommission] as an intended change of use is subject to construction law. For more information please refer to “Zoning and building requirements” in the section “Check suitability” above.

Selling products at markets, festivals and fairs

Selling products at markets, festivals and fairs are one way to test your product with customers or expand an existing business. Most importantly, it allows you to interact with your customers. Many events are listed in this online calendar.

Trade fairs

Messe München is one of the largest trade fair companies worldwide and facility operator of the Munich Exhibition Center, the ICM International Congress Center, the  Conference Center North as well as the MOC – Event Center. Check their event calendar for ongoing and future events. The trade fair participation programs of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs and of the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry can provide public funding.

Public markets and events

The municipal “Markthallen München” organisation is handling Munich’s wholesale markets “Großmarkt” and “Schlachthof”.  They also operate Munich’s four stationary food markets (Viktualienmarkt, Markt am Elisabethplatz, Markt am Wiener Platz and Pasinger Viktualienmarkt), the Blumengroßmarkt, a flower wholesale market, as well as more than 40 farmer’s and food markets held in Munich. Contact the market operator directly to discuss availability or suitability. Subscribe to their newsletter in the section “Newsletterlinks – Arbeiten in München” to be the first to learn about availabilities.

There are several fixed locations in the inner city for stalls selling fruit, vegetables, tropical fruit, flowers, chestnuts or roasted nuts. Learn more how you can apply at the Bezirksinspektion – Licenses and Consumer Services inspectors offices.

There are four fixed locations in the inner city for stalls selling your arts and crafts. Learn more about you can apply at the Bezirksinspektion – Licenses and Consumer Services inspectors offices.

The traditional markets and fairs of the City of Munich such as Auer Dulten, the Stadtgeburtstag, the Oktoberfest and the Christkindlmarkt am Marienplatz are handled by the municipal Department of Labor and Economic Development which offers further information and application papers.

Are you planning to produce and or sell food on markets, festivals and fairs?

Visit our food businesses page to learn more food specific requirements.