Start a Business in Germany as a Foreigner: Procedure & Costs

If you want to start a business in Germany as a foreigner, this comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential steps, types of companies, procedures, and costs.


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    start a business in germany as a foreigner

    In the dynamic landscape of global business, Germany stands out as a promising hub for entrepreneurs looking to establish their ventures. The robust economy, strategic location, and business-friendly environment make Germany an attractive destination for foreign investors. 

    If you want to start a business in Germany as a foreigner, then this comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential steps, types of companies, procedures, costs, and reasons why Germany is an ideal choice.

    Why Choose Germany for Your Business?

    1. Economic Stability: Germany boasts a powerful and stable economy, making it the biggest in Europe. The country’s strong economic foundation provides a secure environment for businesses to thrive.
    2. Strategic Location: Germany is a gateway to European markets because of its central location on the continent. Due to its strategic location, trade and economic partnerships are facilitated by easy access to neighboring countries.
    3. Innovative Environment: Germany is renowned for its innovation and cutting-edge technology. Because of its dedication to R&D, the nation is a great place for companies operating in manufacturing, technology, and renewable energy.
    4. Skilled Workforce: Germany is home to a highly trained and knowledgeable workforce. The emphasis on vocational training ensures that businesses have access to qualified professionals, contributing to their success.
    5. Legal and Political Stability: The country’s legal and political systems are known for their stability and transparency. This creates a secure environment for businesses, giving both investors and business owners confidence.

    Kinds Of Business Structures That You Can Register in Germany

    When starting a business in Germany as a foreigner, understanding the types of companies available is crucial. Here are the main business structures:

    1. Sole Proprietorship:

    • Appropriate for small enterprises with a single proprietor.
    • Full control over decision-making.
    • Personal liability for debts and obligations.

    2. Partnership:

    • Formed by two or more individuals.
    • Shared responsibilities and profits.
    • Personal accountability for debts.

    3. Limited Liability Company (GmbH):

    4. Branch Office:

    • A branch office in Germany is an extension of an overseas corporation.
    • No separate legal entity.
    • Subject to German laws and regulations.

    5. Representative Office:

    • Limited to market research and promotion.
    • No commercial activities.
    • No legal independence.

    Procedure to Start a Business in Germany as a Foreigner

    1. Visa Requirements:

    Before initiating the business registration process, ensure you have the appropriate visa. Based on the type of business you operate, you might require a business visa or an entrepreneur visa.

    2. Business Plan:

    Create a detailed business plan that includes your target market, business strategy, and financial projections. This document is essential for obtaining financing and gaining a clear understanding of your business goals.

    3. Reserving a company name:

    Select a catchy and original name for your enterprise and confirm that it is available. The local commerce office (Gewerbeamt) is in charge of the name reservation procedure.

    4. Bank Account Opening: 

    Create a corporate bank account in Germany. German bank accounts are used for the majority of business operations, and opening one is a requirement for company registration.

    5. Notarization of Documents:

    Certain documents, such as the articles of association for a GmbH, need to be notarized. 

    6. Registration with Commercial Register:

    Register your business with the Commercial Register (Handelsregister) at the local court. This step applies primarily to GmbHs and other formal business structures.

    7. Tax Registration:

    Obtain a tax number by registering with the local tax office (Finanzamt). This is essential for satisfying your tax obligations in Germany.

    Costs Involved in Starting a Business in Germany

    Understanding the financial aspect of starting a business is vital for effective planning. Although expenses might differ based on the nature and scale of the company, the following are typical costs:

    1. Notary Fees: Notarization of documents, especially for GmbHs, incurs fees. These expenses can range from a few hundred to a few thousand euros.
    2. Registration Fees: Registering your business with the Commercial Register involves fees, usually determined by the company’s share capital.
    3. Business Bank Account Fees: Banks may impose maintenance fees on business accounts. Examine several banks to see which is the most economical choice.
    4. Trade Tax: Businesses in Germany are subject to trade tax (Gewerbesteuer), which varies depending on the municipality.
    5. Value Added Tax (VAT): Understand the VAT regulations applicable to your business. In Germany, the general VAT rate is 19%, but certain goods and services may be subject to a lowered rate of 7%.


    Starting a business in Germany as a foreigner is a rewarding venture, offering access to a thriving market and a conducive business environment. From the initial planning stages to navigating the legal procedures and managing costs, this guide has covered the key aspects of establishing your presence in Germany. By choosing Germany as your business destination, you can tap into a rich tapestry of opportunities that can propel your venture to new heights.

    You can speak with experts from OnDemand International to set up your business in Germany. Our dedicated experts streamline the registration process, ensuring compliance and providing essential documentation support. Trust us to guide you through obtaining the requisite business visa, facilitating a smooth and successful entry into the German business landscape. 


    Yes, it’s possible. However, having a local presence can simplify the process and build trust with customers and partners.

    Your business activity will determine the sort of visa you need. Consider either a business visa or an entrepreneur visa.

    Ongoing compliance involves filing annual financial statements, and tax returns, and adhering to specific industry regulations.