International topics

When it comes to doing business internationally, you need to check what tax and legal regulations apply. Some points are only relevant if you do business outside the EU. However, many points are already relevant when you do business anywhere outside Germany.

Value-added tax (VAT) within and outside the EU

For deliveries from suppliers or to private individuals or business customers based in other EU countries or third countries: Find out in advance how to manage input tax (“Vorsteuer”) and value-added tax (“Umsatzsteuer”). Even companies that make use of the “provision for small businesses” (“Kleinunternehmerregelung”) can be affected!

CCI guide to value-added tax [in German]

One Stop Shop procedure for EU VAT

Online retailers must pay VAT in other EU countries if their sales to non-business customers (i.e. private end consumers) in other EU countries is more than 10,000 euro (net and including shipping costs) in a calendar year. This 10,000 euro threshold value includes all products and services sold, including digital services such as downloads. In order to register and pay this tax in other EU countries you can use the One Stop Shop procedure (OSS), which involves registering with the Federal Central Tax Office in Germany and submitting your tax declaration to them for your entire EU sales. This also applies to small businesses, i.e. regardless of whether an online retailer is obliged to pay VAT in Germany.

More information on registering for OSS [in German]

Federal Central Tax Office: The One Stop Shop EU regulation [in German]

International online trade and sales law

Sales law regulates topics such as warranty, possible compensation claims, the right to exchange and return goods, as well as specific aspects of international sales contracts.

CCI guide to sales law [in German]

The CCI brochures on selected countries, “Online verkaufen in …” (“Selling online in …”), answer important questions on entering the respective (online) market, as the legal conditions vary from land to land.

CCI brochures on various foreign markets [in German]

Dealing with imports and exports

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Munich (CCI) offers information and support on customs and foreign trade law:
CCI guide to internationalization – doing business successfully abroad [in German]

And here you can find:
CCI point of contact for international topics [in German]
CCI seminars on customs and foreign trade [in German]

Product safety and product liability

Whether manufacturer, importer, or retailer – anyone who puts products on the German market must ensure that the products meet the European regulations for product safety or else risk liability procedures, sanctions, and loss of reputation. Product safety regulations also affect labeling and information obligations.
CCI guide to product safety [in German]
CCI guide to product liability [in German]

Special regulations apply to many products including:

A1 certification for cross-border activity

If you work temporarily in an EU country, in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you will always have to carry an A1 certification with you. It is proof of your existing social security protection in Germany. It is valid regardless of the length of your business travel. Other certifications may be required for other countries.

More information from the German Staturtory Pension Insurance [in German]

FAQ

Start-ups from abroad – How to open a branch office in Munich
  • Do you have a start-up and are you planning to settle in Munich?
  • Do you live abroad and are planning to open a business in Munich?

Finding the right contact person

Point of Single Contact (PSC) of the City of Munich

The Point of Single Contact for corporate services covers a broad spectrum. Frequently asked questions include forms of opening a office in Munich, licenses from the Immigration Authority or specific requirements to exercise a profession. PSC will guide and advise you through the local administration. Consulting services are offered in German and English and are free of charge. Visit the PSC website
Telephone +49 89 233-22070 | E-Mail: psc@muenchen.de

CCI – Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Munich and Upper Bavaria (IHK für München und Oberbayern)

Invest in Bavaria – the Business Promotion Agency of the State of Bavaria

Invest in Bavaria supports companies from Germany and abroad and from a wide range of sectors. From location search to getting access to relevant partners and networks for your business. Their cross cultural teams provide you with all the important information, valuable contacts and customized support for your expansion project. The “Ois Easy” – a programme for start-ups from abroad is specifically designed for start-ups from abroad who want to open a new branch or a new office in Germany and establish themselves on the German market in the long term. Visit the website and find your contact person here.

Germany Trade and Invest – Investment Guide to Germany

Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) is the economic development agency of the Federal Republic of Germany. With more than 50 offices in Germany and abroad, and its network of partners throughout the world, GTAI supports German companies setting up in foreign markets, promotes Germany as a business location and assists foreign companies setting up in Germany. For initial information on entry regulations, company set up, corporation taxation, employees and social security and incentive programs  please see the GTAI “Investment Guide to Germany”.

Need help to find a tax adviser or lawyer?

We have listed several options to help you with your search.

Do you you own a valid residence permit for the purpose of self-employed activity in Germany?

More information on the residence permit