Setting up a limited company in Germany

49 posts in this topic

Posted

What are the costs involved for setting up a limited company in Germany? How complicated is it? From what I understand from other threads this is not as cheap and simple as in other countries. Someone mentioned 25k up front, or that the equivalent of a PLC? Can I register myself as a company as opposed to freelance status so as to allow other activities more easily?

Thanks.

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Posted

We looked at it last summer when I was about to launch our new office in Munich and found that as well as being prohibitively costly to go on the Handelsregister, the burden of administration to be on it was such that a one man operation (which I am) would be quickly overwhelmed. We opted to stay as a UK firm with a district office here in Munich and did not go on the Handelsregister which is fine although it makes setting up bank accounts etc rather complicated.

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Posted

So it's possible and simpler to be set up somewhere else and operate here? Isn't Europe great!? does that apply for tiny companies (as mine would be!).

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Posted

No, that's not what I meant. My company is an existing UK copmpany that has been going for years. The office in Munich is only a satellite. I am not sure whether you would nbe allowed to incorporate cross border for an office in Munich for a company that only operates here. We opted not to incorporate here as well because it did not make sense for us that@ all. I suggest you consult a lawyer or someone on tt who has launched a company in Germany already.

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Posted

Pirulero,

I have just gone through the process of setting up a business. There are 9 different types of company that you can register as in Germany.

These differ greatly depending upon whether you are setting up alone, with a partner or with employees.

A couple of months ago I contacted the IHK (IndustrieHandelsKammer) in Munich and they sent me a whole batch of information about setting up companies in Germany - in ENGLISH!

I can advise no better than to contact them, ask for the information package and also request a meeting (in English). They will explain everything and advise on your best course of action.

The IHK is basically the local Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

If you don't get anywhere with them, or want some simple help from someone who has just been through this, then we could also meet next time I am in Munich.

Good luck,

WH

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Posted

Can I register myself as a company as opposed to freelance status so as to allow other activities more easily?

How do you think having a company will be any different (apart from complicating the issue and increasing your business costs)?

There is nothing to stop you being a UK Limited company operating in Germany, even exclusively, and it's much cheaper to setup compared to a GmbH. The downside is that you need to report your finances to two authorities (German and UK) and that many potential German customers are wary of such company operations...

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Posted

The other downside is that UK Limited Company does not, as far as I know, have a clever anagram.

Geh

mal

bier

Holen

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Posted

I need to set a GmbH too. In my case would be with a partner and we would have an admin employee from the start.

Pirulero, what was your experience then ? Anything worth sharing ?

Any advice on choosing a good english speaking accountant (most of the info on existing threads is on tax advice) ?

Thanks

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Posted

Hi there SFM,

I can only re-iterate my earlier comment about the IHK - they are good, knowledgeable and will help with all the advice you need.

Do you know for sure that it has to be a GmbH company?

In Germany there are many different options for company type, each with different financial liabilities and requirements. For example a GmbH requires €25,000 "minimum paid in capital" (€12,500 from each partner) upon company formation. Whereas a GbR or oHG doesn't require any. This is only one of the differences between the different types of company which include:

Sole Proprietorship (ich AG), BGB, GbR, oHG, KG, Silent Partnership, GmbH, AG & e.G.

This and much more information is in the free, 133 page (A4) English language handout called "Setting up one's own business" from the IHK.

I use a company for my tax which has an excellent English-speaking person and she has offered to do my full accounting if I need it.

If you want a contact name / number, just PM me.

You can at least make an enquiry with them for free.

MT

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Posted

I can only re-iterate the point to think carefully if you really need a GmbH form. Apart from the expense (€25k commitment, but in practice only €15k hard cash really needed) it's a more complicated and expensive form to maintain because of accounting requirements, and there are many more responsibilities for the directors.

Although a "Steuerberater" is literally a tax adviser, most are, in effect, accountants in the accepted form.

YL6

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Posted

Its not so terrible to set up. Only do it if you have to of course.

I asked my accountant to recommend a Notar. Then I arranged a meeting with him to agree on the articles/Satzung/wording. I picked a nice name for the company and rang the Handelsregister lady to see if it was taken. I then opened a bank account in that name with 12,500 and passed the details to the notar.

I then signed some papers, paid the notar. And as soon as it was all registered (2-3 weeks) the bank was notified to release the account for business. And that was it!

They warned me that official looking letters will arrive asking for registration charges in the hope that someone will pay up without checking. These did come and looked quite serious. Don't pay! They are a con! Luckily I was warned. I might have fallen for them!

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Posted

Ian is correct beware of that official looking bill for around 650€ that come just after you get the Handels number. The one we got was for a marketing agent!

Though the UK LTD is under EU ruling official in Germany the catch 22 is German banks feel not obliged to recognise this fact and show you the door without any shame what so ever! Nought to do with financial ability, business plan, capital available or any of these minor items a bank would normaly be interested in!

Has anybody else experienced challanges opening German bank kontos for LTD?

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Posted

Yes, I have. I had exactly the same trouble when opening up my UK company bank account in Germany. In the end, it came down to the managers yes/no, because the s/w the bank used didn't cope with anything that wasn't GmbH/ AG! Got there in the end though. Keep going and it will happen!

Neil

www.emenda.eu

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Posted

the catch 22 is German banks feel not obliged to recognise this fact and show you the door without any shame what so ever!

I can't comment on business accounts directly, as I only dealt with seeking a private account for a non-citizen at a german-based bank.

Thinking the, credit-union based, Volksbank might be a good idea, we received hostility. The bank would not open an account for a non-native german speaker, in effect.

Deutsche Bank, however, of all the banks, seemed the most open, and offers all relevant forms in English as well. I assume this extends to their merchant banking, with offices around the world. There are also non-German banks operating here [in Berlin], which provide much the same services.

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Posted

The above link is not working anymore.

Does anybody know the good link for this document?

It seems to be the answer to many questions asked on this forum.

Pixel

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Posted

It was updated at the end of 2007 (partly because of some earlier criticisms from a certain Yorkshireman) and is now available here. It will be updated again in 2008 to reflect the revised "mini-GmbH" rules

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Posted

Dear All,

I am a Canadian Citizen .

What would be the best idea on how to open a business company in Germany?

Should I ask my friend, who is a German citizen ,to open a company or should I apply by my self?

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Posted

Go to your local "gewerbeamt" and tell them that you want to be a sole trader. They will then send your details through to the "finanzamt" who will send you a request form where you must tell them your expected income for the next 12 months. Once you've done this and all is OK with the "finanzamt" they will send you your tax number.

This service is free and entitles you to do all the things that a GMBH can do for you but without the initial 25k investment capital.

You will need some advice on filling in your tax forms, etc ... But thats about it.

Hope this helps.

James.

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Posted

Hope this helps.

I doubt it, given that the person asking the question is a Canadian, living in Canada...

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Posted

It's not as scary as you think if you have a nice Steuerberater to "hold your hand" through the process. A lot of accounting is necessary to file your taxes correctly, and I recommend that you pay someone to do it for you - very worth it. We use Appelt Steuerberatung. All correspondence is in English and Mrs. Appelt is very friendly. You can find her contact info here: http://www.steuerberatung-appelt.de/ She's working on an English website right now. Best of luck! It's seriously not as bad as one might think - go for it!

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Posted

Just a quick aside. Always trying to look on the bright side of life over here. In the UK I used to get more involved than I would like in paperwork, bookkeeping and VAT issues.

Over here, with a different language and a different system I was forced to use professional outside services. Sure it costs a little more, and maybe hurts a little more when starting up a new company...but it does release you from the burden of the paperwork which of course releases you for other jobs.

I looooooooove never having to think about VAT returns....just sign 'em when they are stuck in the in-tray :-)

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Posted

Is there a new version of "Setting up one's own business" available anywhere?

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