We trawled the net looking for up-to-date information on English-speaking lawyers in Germany’s capital city. We found a few lists, but most of them were dreadfully out of date or not organised in a useful way. So we decided to make our own directory, sorted by field of law. We spoke to all the lawyers personally to make sure they were happy to be listed. You can therefore be assured that these lawyers are responsive to contact requests and open to working with English-speaking clients. As we continue to receive positive responses from Berlin’s English-speaking legal experts, we will update the list. Here it is! Special thanks to Fiona Gillespie for her stellar work in compiling this directory.
Category Archive: Doing Business in Berlin
Today we’ll explore yet another area of infamously complicated German bureaucracy: business registration (Gewerbeanmeldung). A trade licence, known as a ‘Gewerbeschein’, is required for any newly-established commercial enterprise with a fixed premises. This also applies if you are self-employed (unless you’re truly “freelance” – what’s the difference?), moving your existing business to Berlin from another federal state or country. The Gewerbeschein allows you to run your business in the city in which you have registered it.
If you are a sole trader running your own business (self-employed), one of the managing partners of a business partnership, or a representative of a legal entity, it’s your job to take care of the business registration. Here’s everything you need to know.
Which documents do you need to register your business?
- Proof of identity – either an ID card (Personalausweis) or your passport together with your certificate of registration (Meldebescheinigung) – in some cases, you can declare your identity online.
- The business registration form (Gewerbeanmeldung), filled out – either get it from the local district office, download it electronically to print and fill out or fill it out and submit it online in certain states – see below.
- Residence permit – if you’re a non-EU foreign national, you’ll need to present your residence permit. Make sure it allows self-employment – it should say Selbstständigkeit erstattet or Erwerbstätigkeit gestattet.
- Excerpt from the Trade Register – if the business is listed in the Trade Register, you’ll need to provide the excerpt proving this. For businesses listed in foreign trade registers, you’ll need to provide both the excerpt and a certified German translation.
- To register a legal entity that is still in the process of being established, you’ll need to present a statement of approval from the partners.
- To register a legal entity with multiple representatives, you will need to fill out a supplementary sheet for registering representatives.
NB: To register a foreign business in Germany, you’ll need to have a domestic representative present your paperwork, along with a power of attorney and details of a German address for the business.
Can it be done online?
In 14 out of the 16 German Federal states, you can submit this application online. Each state varies – some allow you to sign it digitally, others need your original signature. If you’re applying in Berlin, there’s a brand new online process, available in English. We’ve tested it out, it takes around 15-20 minutes and is very comprehensive! There’s also no need to print and sign anything as there is a declaration of identity (Identitätserklärung) at the very end. After you’ve paid, you should receive an email confirming your business registration within a few days.
Where can you register your business in person?
If you need to talk to a human, you can still book an appointment at your district office (Bezirksamt). However, unlike registering your address (Anmeldung einer Wohnung), which can be done at any Bezirksamt, you will have to go to your local district office. This means the district office of your business’ premises, not your home address. If you live in Pankow but you want your business registered at your co-working space in Neukölln, go to Neukölln!
How much will it cost you?
The cost of registering your business varies slightly depending on the Federal state, type of business, number of legal representatives and chosen registration process.
The prices in Berlin are as follows:
- Sole traders – EUR 26.00
- Business partnerships – EUR 26.00 per partner
- Legal entities with one legal representative – EUR 31.00 (plus an additional EUR 13.00 for each additional representative)
- Online business registration – EUR 15.00
Book a Skype coaching if you’d like some help getting through the online business registration process. Submitting the form usually takes about 15-20 minutes and once completed, we’ll help you get a self-employed tax number and take you through the basics of staying compliant as a business owner in Germany.
A minimum wage (Mindestlohn) has already existed in many European countries for quite a while. Despite this, its introduction in Germany only happened very recently. In 2015, negotiations between the CDU, CSU and SPD saw a minimum wage of €8.50 introduced to Germany in accordance with the Act Regulating a General Minimum Wage. Over the following years, it increased gradually. Right now, it is 9.19 EUR per hour. As of 1 January 2020, it will increase to €9.35 per hour. Some industries have been given a transition period before becoming compliant.
You have spoken and we have listened. We’re happy to announce we’ve now made it even easier to pay for translation, interpreting, admin and coaching services with Red Tape Translation. Now along with the usual suspects: Paypal, TransferWise and a regular bank transfer, as of April 4th you can now pay with your credit card at no extra cost.
We understand that many of you wishing to take advantage of Red Tape Translation’s services have bank accounts overseas and there are usually teething problems with access to accounts when you move to a new country. With that in mind, we’ve taken this step toward making access to our array of expat expertise simpler and, hopefully, making your transition a little smoother.
Happy shopping and happy Friday!
Katie from Red Tape Translation
Congratulations on purchasing property in Germany! You’ve probably sat through the read-through at the notary’s office by now, and if your German isn’t terrific, chances are you had an interpreter tag along to help you out. Now the bank wants proof that you understand the loan documents before they pay out. What’s the easiest and most cost-effective way to get the money rolling?
This type of request has been popping up with surprising frequency. Here’s how it usually goes down. A customer who doesn’t speak German gets approval for a loan from a bank, either alone or as part of a joint purchase, and everything is ready to go except for one thing: the bank sends the loan documents with a requirement for a statement from a court-sworn interpreter. The statement should declare that the interpreter has read out the terms of the loan to the client in English and that the client has understood them. Why is this requirement from banks causing such waves of panic in the interpreting industry?
You say Steuernummer and I say Steuer-ID-Nummer,
You say Umsatz-ID-Nummer and I say Sozialversicherungsnummer.
Steuernummer, StIDNr, UStID-Nr, SV-Nummer, let’s call the whole thing off.
Hmm. Not really an option. So instead, I’ll take you through it simply, carefully and lovingly. I wish everyone would sing songs about tax.
There’s an old law from 1913 that will interest you if you’re a freelance teacher in Germany. It’s from §2 of Book 6 of the German Social Code, it covers the Statutory Pension System in Germany, and it goes a little something like this:
“I’ve got this great full-time job offer in Germany, but they want to hire me as a freelancer.”
This isn’t always ill-intentioned, but when your company offers to hire you in Germany as a full-timer but wants you to write them invoices as a freelancer instead of employing you, they might not have your best interests at heart. Or they might just have no clue about how employment law in Germany works. In any case, it might cause some serious problems for them and for you later down the track.
I coach English-speaking freelancers on setting themselves up as self-employed in Germany. A typical coaching will take you through the basics – how to get a freelance tax number, what information you need to have on your invoices, how the Finanzamt will treat you for tax purposes, information on the insurance system, dealing with clients in other countries, tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way.
Over the years, I’ve gathered a list of issues that really perplex expats. You might not think these things are a big deal right now, but they certainly would be if you get audited 5 years down the track. Here are some tips for starting out your German freelance adventure with great accounting habits.
Getting out of Unemployment with Self-Employment: The Gründungszuschuss
If you are facing unemployment in Germany or are right in the middle of it, you might be interested to know about a grant that the Agentur für Arbeit offers to job seekers on ALG1 unemployment benefits if they want to start a business in Germany. The idea of this “new business grant” (Gründungszuschuss) is to get people out of unemployment (ALG I) by encouraging them to become self-employed or to start a company. Naturally, this won’t suit everyone, so the Agentur für Arbeit is really interested in making sure that you’re the entrepreneurial type and that you have a viable idea before they approve your application.
It is difficult to find information about the Gründungszuschuss in English. Here are the basics.
A magical summer in Berlin has convinced you that you want to stay here forever. You’ve found the perfect apartment to buy at the right price and talked to your bank about financing. Here’s what you can expect when buying property in Berlin, from making an offer through to getting the keys.