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

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

 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

How do I register my business [Gewerbe] in Munich?

There are different options how to submit your business registration in Munich:

1. Register your business online

You can register your business online via the München-Portal. You are able to upload additional documents if required. For the online registration process you will need to create a personal BayernID first – using the option “Username & Password”.

2. Register your business by mail or e-mail

Complete the business registration form [Gewerbeanmeldung”] (PDF, 144 KB) and submit it to the Trade Office at the Department of Public Order [Kreisverwaltungsreferat – KVR] by mail or e-mail together with all required documents. Use our English language fill-in help to guide you through the business registration form.

3. Register in person at the Trade Office after setting up an appointment

Check the online appointment tool for available appointments and book yourself an available time slot for your business registration. If there are no time slots available we recommend to check again later to see if new time slots have been activated.

Kreisverwaltungsreferat (KVR), Hauptabteilung III, Gewerbemeldungen, Implerstraße 11, 81371 München

Which documents do I need to register my business?

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.

When do I register my business?

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

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.

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

 

Registering with the Tax Office

Checklist: Registering with the Tax Office

Registering at the tax office is done digitally. All forms relating to tax registration are free or charge and available via ELSTER, the online portal used by the government’s financial administrative authorities.

# 1 Register for an ELSTER user account (duration: approx. 1 to 2 weeks)

  • Registering for a user account(“Benutzerkonto”) at www.elster.de is your first step to applying for a tax number. While the username and password authentication method is widely used, the tax office has implemented a different method for secure authentication. ELSTER user accounts can be accessed with a digital certificate file (“Zertifikatsdatei”) and password or by using ElsterSecure App. Most users are advised to select the digital certificate file (“Zertifikatsdatei”).  Registration for a user account needs to be done once only, it is free, and requires no software installation. After entering your personal data and your tax identification number (“steuerliche Identifikationsnummer”) you will receive an activation link by email and an activation code in a letter by postal mail. It is only when you have received the letter that you can complete the registration process and download the certificate file (“Zertifikatsdatei”). You can now log in to your account.

# 2 Select the designated “Tax Assessment Questionnaire”, complete and submit via the ELSTER portal

  • Via your ELSTER 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 via the ELSTER portal. You may also use the forms provided by a commercial accounting software that are able to integrate with ELSTER. Please note, that in any case you are required to register once  with ELSTER.
  • Please read and answer each question carefully. Be aware that your answers can have far-reaching implications. You will also have to decide if you wish to make us of the “small business owner regulation” (“Kleinunternehmerregelung”) in terms of charging VAT. Do you need help? Contact a tax advisor for professional advice.

#3 Receive your tax number for your self-employment (duration: approx. 4 to 8 weeks)

  • After the tax office has received and reviewed your completed questionnaire and the necessary documents, it will issue a tax number. If you charge VAT, you can now make a value-added tax assessment. You need the tax number in order to write invoices. Learn more in our post “Taxes & Accounting“.

English language information:

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

FAQs: Registering with the tax office

  • When do I have to register?
    You have to inform the tax office no later than one month after starting your self-employment. Since January 1st,  2021 you are obliged to submit the tax assessment questionnaire without prior notice from the tax office.
  • Where do I register?
    The tax office responsible for you is determined by where you generate your income. In Munich turn to the Munich Tax Office [Finanzamt München].
  • How do I register?
    By completing and submitting the online “Tax Assessment Questionnaire” via the ELSTER Portal.
  • What is ELSTER?
    ELSTER is short for “ELektronische STeuerERklärung”. It an online portal used by the government’s financial administrative authorities.
  • Which “Finanzamtsnummer” (Tax Office Number) do I enter in the questionnaire?
    The Finanzamtsnummer depends on the first letter of your family name: for A to E use the number 144, for F to I use the number 147, for D to M use the number 145, for N to S use the number 146, for Sch to Z use the number 147.
  • Who can I turn to when I …
    … have questions on completing tax assessment questionnaire: tax advisors
    … am experiencing technical difficulties with ELSTER: ELSTER-Hotline at 0800 523 5055
    … have general tax related questions: service center of the Munich tax office
  • Who is my case manager at the Munich tax office
    Depending on the legal form of your business, please turn to the team for sole proprietors – Einzelunternehmen, partnerships such as GbR – Personengesellschaften, incorporated forms such as GmbH und UG (haftungsbeschränkt), non profit associations – Vereine and other legal forms – weitere Rechtsformen.
  • I do not have my  tax identification number (“steuerliche Identifikationsnummer”), yet. Can I still set up a user account and submit the Tax Assessment Questionnaire?
    The tax identification number ( IdNo) is a
    domestic classification criterion. One IdNo will be assigned to every person who is registered with a primary place of residence or sole residence in a civil registry in Germany. You can usually find your IdNo in the following documents: in your income tax assessment, on your employment tax statement or in the informational letter from the federal central tax office. If you misplaced your IdNo you may request it from the Federal Central Tax Office. If you have never received a IdNo, please turn to your local tax office for help. Meanwhile you may set up an ELSTER user account and submit your tax assessment questionnaire using an email address for verification.
  • What is the difference between “Steuer-ID”, “Steuernummer” and “Umsatzsteuer-ID”?
    Check our FAQ
  • Is there a difference between the terms “Freiberufler“, “freelancer” and “self-employed”?
    Check our FAQ
  • I am starting self-employment in a liberal profession. Does the tax office require any documents to proof my qualifications?
    If you decide to start self-employed work as a member of the liberal professions (Freie Berufe) , 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 a liberal profession, 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 liberal profession status while the trades’ office (Gewerbeamt) demands that you register as a tradesperson. For example, the trades’ authorities recognize teaching as a liberal profession’s 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. All domestic companies in Germany, with the exception of the skilled crafts, the liberal professions and farmers are members of the local Chamber of Commerce and Industry [Industrie- und Handelskammer (IHK)]. If you wish to go into business with a skilled craft you will become a member of the local Chamber of  Skilled Crafts [Handwerskammer (HWK)].  Businesses automatically become a member as soon they have been registered with the Trade Office. A membership fee applies.