Registering with the Commercial Register (Handelsregister)
The Commercial Register contains information about the registered companies’ factual and legal circumstances that may be important when doing business with them. This includes, for example,
- the exact company name,
- the company’s headquarters,
- the owner(s) (in part),
- any limitations of liability, and/or
- authorised representatives.
Registration is compulsory for the following:
- partnerships such as general partnerships (OHG) and limited partnerships (KG)
- corporations such as limited liability companies (GmbH) and stock corporations (AG) and
- companies whose operations require that they be run commercially. The decision as to whether this is the case is based on their annual revenues, capital, number of business transactions or number of employees, and each case will be considered on its merit. No precise definition exists.
Tip: Discuss your planned company start-up with your Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) in advance. This may save you subsequent complaints and costly amendments, besides accelerating the registration process.
Entry into the Commercial Register is not obligatory for small business and freelancers. They can register with the Commercial Register, but this is not compulsory.
If your company is entered in the Commercial Register, you are deemed by law to be a trader with the following rights and obligations:
- You may grant proxy, i.e. furnish employees with extensive managing and representative powers. Due to its special significance, the granting of proxy is entered into the Commercial Register.
- You can agree upon a court of jurisdiction of your choice.
- You can also grant guarantees, debt obligations or acknowledgements of debt verbally.
- You must comply with the accounting and balance sheet regulations stipulated in commercial law.
The Commercial Register is a public directory kept in electronic form by the register courts.
You can also view the documents submitted to the register court when the company was registered. These include articles, lists of partners etc.
Note: All new entries and amendments are announced electronically in the register portal at www.handelsregister.de.
The register court in whose registration district the company or sole trader is domiciled.
Note: The register courts in Baden-Württemberg are the district courts in Freiburg, Mannheim, Stuttgart and Ulm.
Your application for entry in the Commercial Register must be submitted electronically in a publicly certified form. Please consult a notary for this purpose.
He will help you word your registration application, certify it and submit it to the competent district court (Amtsgericht).
The Chamber of Notaries in Baden-Württemberg will give you a list of notaries in your area on request.
- notarised application for entry into the Commercial Register
- depending on the legal form of your company, you will have to submit other documents, some of which must be certified or documented by a notary.
Note: Your chosen notary and your Chamber of Commerce and Industry will tell you exactly which documents you need.
The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Justizministerium released it on 18.02.2015. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.
In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.