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...Start ...Main practice areas ...Industrial law
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Tel +49.511/357356-0
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Industrial Law/ Commercial Law

As a central part of commercial administrative rights, the Commercial Code (GewO) provides a regulatory framework for all commercial activities. At the same time, the GewO represents an important basis for a legal public monitoring of the business and the industrial law.

A commercial activity consists of any authorized activity, that aims to achieve fair profits and an independent business. Initial productions, free professions and the management of a capital are not considered businesses. 

Industrial law and regulations, basic principles

The Commercial Code (GewO) regulates:

  • Business disclosure obligations
  • Authorized businesses, such as the surveillance industry, insurance brokers and consultants, financial intermediaries, loan brokers, real estate brokers, builders, pawnbroker trade, the auctioneer’s industry, gambling halls and all those businesses requiring monitoring, such as travel agencies, purchase and sale of motor vehicles, precious metals, precious stones and jewelry as well as marriage and partnership mediation institutions.
  • Determination of markets and trade fairs
  • Commercial activities.

According to § 6 of the German commercial code, or so-called GewO, the Trading Regulations are not applicable to:

  • Freelancers (such as doctors, lawyers, architects, free scientific, artistic and literary activities),
  • Agriculture and forestry (primary production).

These professions, which are exempt from the obligation to trade, only have to apply for a tax number by the financial authorities.

Business Registration

Who is obliged to report his trade?

Every independent business of a permanent industry must be registered at the municipality authority, in accordance with § 14 Paragraph 1, GewO. Any activity practices by a trader at his place of residence or at the head office of his commercial establishment, is considered a business.

In order to avoid unnecessary queries, it is advisable to contact the Commercial Registration Office beforehand; this office is generally the Public Order Office of your municipality. Business Registrations are subjected to mandatory fees.

The application for the registration of a trade or business is to be paid on a national form. The form can be found on the website of the Business Registration Office. Business notifications can be made either electronically, in writing form, or directly at the Business Registration Office.

Trading License

Within three days after the receipt of the business notification, the reception shall be confirmed by the respective authority. This is will be your trading license. You will receive this acknowledgment of receipt regardless the result of the application.

Business License

As a matter of principle, you have freedom of trade. However, the principle of freedom of trade is restricted in some commercial areas. Before the commercial application, it is necessary to apply for an official permit.  Once it is issued, this must be submitted to the business registration application. The prerequisites for permission vary according to the trade. Personal reliability (police certificate of good conduct) is always required in these cases. The required permission must be requested at the responsible authority (district administration or municipal administration). The permit and an extract from the commercial central register must be provided.

Further Topics:

  • Trade regulations
  • Business registration
  • Business deregistration
  • Commercial taxation
  • Freedom of trade
  • Craft code
  • Chamber of Crafts
  • Commercial obligations
  • Economic and commercial rights
  • Law of public order and security
  • Public Order Office


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© German lawyer Michael Horak 2002-2018

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