Before commencing an independent commercial activity, it is generally only necessary to notify the competent chamber of industry and commerce or the chamber of crafts or the municipality in which the activity is carried out (Section 14 (1) sentence 1 Gewerbeordnung - GewO). In the case of the installation of vending machines of any kind as an independent trade, the notification must be submitted to the competent authority of the main establishment (§ 14 para. 3 GewO).
A trade is any self-employed activity that is not socially unvalued, profit-making and permanent, with the exception of primary production (e.g. agriculture), liberal professions (free scientific, artistic and literary activities of a higher nature, as well as personal services requiring higher education) and the mere administration and use of one's own property.
Every natural person (e.g. also partners of partnerships) or legal entity that starts a trade (main establishment) as well as the start of operation of a branch office or a dependent branch office must be notified.
In the case of trades requiring a license (e.g. real estate agents, catering) and craft activities, a permit or entry in the register of craftsmen is also required in addition to the trade notification.
Certain trades do not require a permit, but are subject to special monitoring by the authorities (so-called trades requiring monitoring pursuant to § 38 GewO). The following trades are affected:
- Purchase and sale of
a) high-value consumer goods, especially consumer electronics, computers, optical products, cameras, video cameras, carpets, fur and leather clothing;
b) motor vehicles and bicycles;
c) precious metals and alloys containing precious metals, as well as goods made of precious metals or alloys containing precious metals;
d) precious stones, pearls and jewelry; or
e) scrap metals, insofar as they do not fall under letter c),
by companies specializing in trading in second-hand goods;
- Provision of information on financial circumstances and personal affairs (credit agencies, detective agencies);
- Arranging marriages, partnerships and acquaintances;
- Operation of travel agencies and arrangement of accommodation;
- Distribution and installation of building security equipment, including key services; and
- Manufacturing and distributing specialized theft-related opening tools.
When registering a trade requiring supervision, the reliability of the trader is immediately checked. The applicant is therefore obliged to apply for a certificate of good conduct (Section 30 (5) of the Federal Central Register Act) and information from the Central Trade Register (Section 150 (5) of the Trade Regulation Act) for submission to the authorities.
The foreign applicant is obliged to provide comparable proof of good conduct (official certificate of good conduct or an extract from the criminal record of his/her home country or an equivalent document). If, on the basis of the foreigner's previous residence, it can be assumed that the above-mentioned certificates and proofs no longer contain, or do not yet contain, facts relevant to trade law, the foreign or German certificates may be waived.
Travel trade activities for which a travel trade card is required are not subject to notification. On the other hand, some activities that do not require a travel trade card (e.g. sale of printed matter in public places, sale of foodstuffs from non-fixed points of sale) are subject to notification (Section 55c GewO).
The business registration must be made in writing using the form provided. The receipt of the business registration is certified by the competent authority.
Other authorities (e.g. tax office, chamber of crafts or chamber of industry and commerce) will also be informed about the business registration.