Registering a Trade or Business in Germany

The registration, changes to a registration, or the cancellation of a registration of your trade or business (German: “Gewerbe”) and a variety of activities associated with these can be done either personally in the start-up centre of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce or online via the “ Point of Single Contact”.

What is a “Gewerbe”?

A “Gewerbe” is basically a trade or a business. The registering of it is often one of the first steps for self-employment in Germany. A “Gewerbe” for these purposes refers to any self-employed, regular, profit-oriented, and not merely temporary occupation. Anyone who is personally independent and is not bound by the instructions of another person and who pursues an occupation that is not unlawful, such as commercially dealing in stolen goods, is regarded as carrying on a “Gewerbe”. The occupation must be carried on regularly and not only occasionally, and must be done for payment. And although it must also be profit-oriented, it is irrelevant whether any profits are really made.
Exempted from the registration obligation are the so-called independent or liberal professions (“freie Berufe”).

Registering a trade or business

The registration of your trade or business (German: “Gewerbeanmeldung”) and a variety of activities associated with it can be carried out in a number of places. You can do this personally in the Service Centre of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, in the so-called “Handwerkskammer” (Chamber of Trades), in the  district administration office (German: “Bezirksamt”) with jurisdiction in the place where your trade or business has its business seat, or online via the “Point of Single Contact”.
Unless there are special requirements for carrying on a trade or a business, the registration fee is EUR 20.00.
Please bring your German “Personalausweis” if you have one or your passport together with your “Meldebescheinigung” (residence registration card). If there is a notification that the business activities of a company registered in the Commercial Register (German: “Handelsregister”) are about to begin, then please provide us with the corresponding certificate of registration in the Commercial Register (German: “Handelsregisterauszug”). This must be accompanied by the company’s articles of association in notarized form by a Germany notary public. More information about the notification of companies that must be registered in the Commercial Register is obtainable here.
Some kinds of occupations require that you obtain a special permit. If this is the case, the Point of Single Contact located in the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce can assist you with this. The staff there will be happy to help you with filing the applications for permits and for other necessary documents. A list of those businesses/trades that require permits is found here.
You can also commission another person to perform these formalities for you. You must give the person commissioned by you a power of attorney for this specific purpose and a photocopy of your German “Personalausweis” (or your passport together with the “Meldebescheinigung”). Such persons must also be able to prove their own identity as well.
Upon registration of the trade/business, an automatic notification will be sent to the German tax office (German: “Finanzamt”). And depending on which industry is involved, a notification will also be sent to the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce and/or the Handwerkskammer Hamburg, to the government employment office (German: “Arbeitsagentur”), to certain professional/trade associations (German: “Berufsgenossenschaft” ), and where applicable to the building inspection department of the district “Bezirksamt”.
Important: The registration of a trade or business does not entitle the registering party to carry on the commercial occupation if a special permit (e.g. restaurant license) or the registration in a tradesmen’s register is still required.
Advice: Find out ahead of time whether you are obligated to obtain any permits. You can ask the Service-Center of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, the Point of Single Contact, or the so-called “Bezirksamt” competent for this.

Changing the registration of a trade or business

If any changes arise in conjunction with your trade or business activities, our Service-Center and the Point of Single Contact will also be happy to assist you with changing the registration of the trade or business (German: “Gewerbeummeldung”). The registration must be changed if the business operations, the branch establishment, or the branch office is moved within the city limits. The fee for this is EUR 20.00.
Please also inform us of the following things:
  • changes or expansions of your business to include other goods or services,
  • changes to persons’ or company names,
  • management changes in the case of companies registered in the Commercial Register,
  • changes to the private addresses of the business operators or the managing directors.
No fees are charged for this. Cancelling the registration of a trade or businessIf you discontinue your business activities, then you can cancel the registration of the trade or business (German: “Gewerbeabmeldung”) free of costs.