How do you register your self-employment?

How and where you register your self-employment depends on your choice of legal structure and whether your activity is classified as a liberal profession or a business.

Unincorporated firms for liberal professions and businesses

Unincorporated firm are entities such as:

  • Sole proprietorship (1 person)
  • Civil-law partnership (GbR) for 2 or more people

How to register your self-employment in Munich as a sole proprietor

As a member of the liberal professions [Freie Berufe]

As a business [Gewerbe] owner

Schmuckbild

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

 


How to register your self-employment in Munich as a civil-law partnership (GbR) involving two or more people

As a member of the liberal professions [Freie Berufe]

As a business [Gewerbe] owner

Schmuckbild

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

Incorporated firms for businesses

Incorporated firms are entities such as:

  • Limited liability company (GmbH) (1 or more persons)
  • Provisional company with limited liability (Unternehmergesellschaft haftungsbeschränkt, UG) (1 or more persons)

Registering an incorporated firm involves, for example, stating the planned company name and purpose (“Unternehmensgegenstand”), notarial certification of the formation record (“Musterprotokoll”) and partnership agreement, the paying in of capital stock, entry at the commercial register by the notary, and only then registration of the business and registration at the tax office.

Plan sufficient time for this entire process and calculate the costs, which can vary significantly, depending on whether you set up the company using the simplified “Musterprotokoll” procedure or individual contracts.

Have you decided on a legal structure and know whether to start as a business or a liberal profession? Learn how to register your self-employment with the Trade Office and Tax Office:

Registering with the Trade Office

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
Registering with the Tax Office

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

If you decide to start self-employed work as a member of the liberal professions , the tax office may well want to see proof of relevant qualifications such as completed degree course or comparable vocational qualification. To speed up the process of having your tax registration form checked, you can submit such documents when registering.

It is not always easy to determine which professions are classified as Freie Berufe (liberal professions) and thus qualify for freelance status. The tax office has the final say on whether your work is classified, from a taxation perspective, as freelance or trade. It often happens that people who see themselves as freelancers successfully register with the tax office without any questions arising. These people then frequently and incorrectly assume that they are now recognized as freelancers. If, despite doubts, you register as freelance (in German taxation language selbständig), no harm will be done as long as you are not subsequently classified as a tradesperson following an audit. It can be very expensive if you are later classified as a tradesperson and have to pay trade tax retrospectively.

In some cases it might even occur that the tax office accepts freelance status while the trades’ office (Gewerbeamt) demands that you register as a tradesperson. For example, the trades’ authorities recognize teaching as a freelance activity only if you can prove you have a degree from a university or university of applied sciences. Please see our special information for coaching, teaching and consulting activities.

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.

FAQ

How do I register my freelancing activity

The terms “Freiberufler“, “freelancer” and “self-employed” are often confused and used as synonyms.  Please note: Self-employed people in Germany are

  • either business people [Gewerbetreibende]
  • or members of the liberal professions [Freie Berufe].

Different rules apply to these two categories. It is very important that you distinguish between these two types of new businesses and find out which one is right for you.  Read on here

Are you a member of the liberal professions? Register with 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 [Finanzamt München: Fragebögen für die steuerliche Erfassung]

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

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

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

Federal business startup portal: tax offices [Bundesexistenzgründungsportal: 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

If you decide to start self-employed work as a member of the liberal professions , the tax office may well want to see proof of relevant qualifications such as completed degree course or comparable vocational qualification. To speed up the process of having your tax registration form checked, you can submit such documents when registering.

It is not always easy to determine which professions are classified as Freie Berufe (liberal professions) and thus qualify for freelance status. The tax office has the final say on whether your work is classified, from a taxation perspective, as freelance or trade. It often happens that people who see themselves as freelancers successfully register with the tax office without any questions arising. These people then frequently and incorrectly assume that they are now recognized as freelancers. If, despite doubts, you register as freelance (in German taxation language selbständig), no harm will be done as long as you are not subsequently classified as a tradesperson following an audit. It can be very expensive if you are later classified as a tradesperson and have to pay trade tax retrospectively.

In some cases it might even occur that the tax office accepts freelance status while the trades’ office (Gewerbeamt) demands that you register as a tradesperson. For example, the trades’ authorities recognize teaching as a freelance activity only if you can prove you have a degree from a university or university of applied sciences. Please see our special information for coaching, teaching and consulting activities.

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.

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.

Can I start a business out of my home?

Many entrepreneurs start working from home and use a part of  their apartment or house for their business. You should inform your landlord about your plans. Also contact the Amt für Wohnen und Migration, the municipal Housing and Migration Office, whether you are actually allowed to use your home for business purposes or whether you need a permit to do so. If you are a home owner, you should also obtain approval for working from home in case of doubt.

You also need to consider building, fire protection, and industry-specific regulations such as requirements for practices and rooms in which some form of childcare is offered, or  food hygiene regulations for anyone planning to store, process or sell food.