How to fill out the trade license registration in Berlin [GUIDE]

Wohooo! You always wanted to register a business in Germany to sell your handmade products? You live in Berlin? You don't speak German and you're stuck on this "Einheitlicher Ansprechpartner Berlin" platform with all its lovely German forms? 

Fear not - here's your guide to fill out the trade license registration in Berlin on EA Berlin.

Please do read my post on How to register a business in Germany before you start working with this guide to check if you actually need a trade license. Maybe you're better off with a freelance registration!

So! You live in Berlin and you want to register for a trade license. Good news: You can actually start the process online! 

The official name of the online platform you need to use is "Einheitlicher Ansprechpartner Berlin" which you can find here. Click on “Directly start online application” and you’ll be forwarded to the registration platform. 

Switch to English if you want to and sign up here - you only need your name, your email address and a password at this point. 

You’ll get an email and can start the registration process right away. 

Click on to “Neuer Fall anlegen” and you should see this screen:

Fun fact – this part of the process is literally called “life situation assistant”. So! We’re going to tell the life situation assistant what we want to do.

We want to register for a trade license as we’re a small business owner so we check “Gewerbe” and click on “Weiter”.

As we’re starting a new business, we click “Ein Gewerbe anmelden” here. (You can also de-register a small business here, or change the address.) Then, “Weiter”.

Now, the fun part! What do you actually want to do?

There’s a long list of professions here – I’d recommend selecting “Gewerbeanmeldung (Allgemein)” which is at the top of the list, and then describe your business in the forms you need to submit. This leaves you a bit more flexibility further down the road if you want to add to or change the products you offer.

Now you need to enter the address of where you’re working (“Betriebsstätte”). Add at least 3 characters of the street name, and click on “Suchen”. The platform will automatically suggest street names, ZIP codes and house number.

You then select the one that fits, and click on “Weiter”.

Time to decide which legal form your new business should have! For the start, I’d recommend to go with “Einzelunternehmen (nicht eingetragen)”. This is a sole proprietorship that won’t be registered in the Commercial Register (“Handelsregister”).

A rule of thumb here is that as long as your profits are less than 50.000 EUR and your revenue is less than 500.000 EUR a year, you can choose “Einzelunternehmen (nicht eingetragen)” and don’t need to register in the Commercial Register. This also has the advantage that you don’t have to do double-entry accounting with a balance sheet as long as you’re below those thresholds and not registered in the Commercial Register.

You also want to tick “Ja” at “Möchten Sie Ihre Tätigkeit beim Finanzamt anmelden?” which let’s you submit the registration of your new business to the tax office through the platform.

With regards to the “Berufsgenossenschaft” – you can tick “Ja” to get your data automatically forwarded, but you don’t have to. The “Berufsgenossenschaft” is a type of accident insurance that becomes important once you have employees. If you’re just starting out on your own, I’d recommend to tick “Nein” and register later if need be. 

Now it’s time to fill in your personal details. From top to bottom, these are:

  • Anrede: Herr or Frau – you can also leave this blank.
  • Vornamen: Insert your first name(s) here.
  • Familiennamen: Insert your last name(s) here.
  •  Geburtsdatum: Select your date of birth.

Then, the address where mail reaches you (“Korrespondenzadresse”). This doesn’t have to be identical with where you do you work! Let’s say, you have an office and an apartment and would like all mail to be sent to your apartment, feel free to enter the apartment’s address here. 

  • Straße: Street name.
  • Hausnummer: Number.
  • Adresszusatz: If you live with someone and your name is not on the doorbell, you can add the “c/o Max Mustermann” here. You can also leave it blank.
  • Postleitzahl: ZIP code.
  • Ort: City.
  • Land: Country – Germany / Deutschland.
  • Telefon: Phone number.
  • Fax: Fax number.

Then it goes “Weiter”!

Some more fun questions about your current situation!

  • 1st question – click “nein” here. This is only applicable if you form a business partnership (“Personengesellschaft”) with more than 3 people – and as we established in the beginning, we’re assuming you’re starting your business alone, aka in a sole proprietorship.
  • 2nd question – also click “nein” here. Only applicable if you founded a business partnership or corporation (“Kapitalgesellschaft”).
  • 3rd question – also “nein”. This question asks you if you’ve registered your company in the Commercial Register. As established above, we don’t want to do that for a sole proprietorship like we are.
  • 4th question – again, “nein”. This is about whether you want to do double bookkeeping and a balance sheet. You don’t need to do that if you’re below 50.000 EUR profit or 500.000 EUR revenue per year.
  • 5th question – if you have a tax advisor, click “yes” here. I’m assuming you don’t so I click “nein” here. No worries if you’re not sure yet whether you want to have a tax accountant or not – just click “nein” and you can always have your new tax accountant added after the registration.
  • 6th question – Fill in your citizenship here.

Then, “Weiter”!

Almost done! Just choose a name for your case (“Ihr Zeichen”) and click “Ja” below – which means yes, you do indeed want to use the online platform to submit your registration.

Then, click on “Fall Anlegen”.

Now, you have to wait a little (yes, German technology is slow sometimes ;)), and then you should see this screen:

Wohoo!! We’re 30% there!!

Now, we’re going to fill in these forms in the first part of the table one by one.

 

1.    Residence Permit / Aufenthaltserlaubnis

Click on “Hochladen” and then upload a scan of your residence permit / visa on this screen:

“Weiter” – and you’re done!

 

2.    Tax Office Registration / Finanzamtsanmeldung Gewerbe

This is the same registration form you need to submit if you’re a freelancer. It’s quite a long form, which is why I’ve written a separate guide for it.

You can read the entire guide here

Fill out the form according to the guide.  If you have Adobe Acrobat as your PDF reader, you can directly submit it. If you don’t, no worries – simply save it as PDF, print it,  sign it, and then scan it and upload the final PDF under “Hochladen” next to “Finanzamtsanmeldung Gewerbe”.

 

3.    Business Registration / Gewerbeanmeldung

Yay, some more screenshots!!

First off – why do you register your business? I’d assume because you’re starting a new one – then click “Neugründung des Betriebs”.

Also, add the start date of your business (“Tätigkeitsbeginn”). This should be either the date when you submit the registration, or, when you plan to start later, a date later in the year.

“Anzeigedatum” – add the date of the day you’re submitting your registration.

Here, you need to add in the legal form of your business again. As discussed above, the most likely (and useful) option if you’re just starting out on your own will be a sole proprietorship (“Einzelunternehmen (nicht eingetragen)”).

Select it and then click “Weiter.”

Now to the fun part!

First, you need to add a description of what you want to do with your business.  

If you’ve already filled out the “Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung” you’re familiar with this. You can simply add the same description here.

If not: This is super important! Keep it precise, but also try to find an expression that includes as many of the things that you can think of doing in the future.

A good description would be for example “Design, production, distribution and cooperations in fashion and textiles” or “Writing, designing, and distributing educational material for kids”.

As this needs to be in German, ideally get a native speaker to help you figure out the proper German wording. Google Translate is definitely NOT your best friend here.

Next, decide if you want to do the registration for the headquarters of your new company or a second location. Most likely, you only have headquarters (aka your office / co-working space / studio / shop / apartment) right now, so select the 1st option.

Then, you need to add what kind of business it is. There are four different ones that you can choose:

  • Industry / Industrie: This applies for companies that produce and process physical goods in large-scale plants – and most likely with a lot of automation. For your small business, this is probably not applicable. This leaves three options:
  • Crafts / Handwerk:
    • If you belong to one of the regulated crafts (see point 1 of the registration process for small business owners in the blog post for a longer explanation or the full list of regulated crafts here in German and here in English)
    • If you don’t belong to one of the regulated crafts, but still produce physical products by hand – say, you’re a seamstress or a photographer – you might also belong in this category. Check out the lists above for the non-regulated crafts professions (“zulassungsfreie Handwerke”). If yours is listed in there, check “Handwerk” here.
  • Trade / Handel: If you only sell products – you don’t produce anything – check this box.
  • Others / Sonstige: This is the one you want to check if you’re not sure in which category your business belongs or if there’s just nothing in the previously mentioned lists that resembles what you’re doing. Which, honestly, is quite often the case if you’re doing anything web-related.

Next, you need to add if you have something called a “craft certification” (“Handwerkskarte”). If you are working in a regulated craft you have this, if you don’t (which – as established – we’re assuming here), just check “nein”.

Then, you need to determine if you’re working in your new business part time or full time. As a rule of thumb, “part time” is when you work less than 15 hours per week on your new business. If you’re still working a full-time job while founding your own business, “part time” mean you’re not working more than 1/3 of you full time employment time on your own business.

If – according to these guidelines – you’re working part time on your new business, check “ja” for this question; if you’re working full time, check “nein”.

Last, but not least, you need to enter how many full time employees (“Anzahl Vollzeitbeschäftigte”) and how many part time employees (“Anzahl Teilzeitbeschäftigte”) you have. Don’t count yourself into this, though!

Then, “Weiter” as usual.

Next step: Adding in all your personal details as the owner of your new business.

  • Anrede: Salutation - Herr or Frau
  • Titel: You can add an academic title (like Dr.) here.
  • Vorname: Insert your first name(s) here.
  • Nachname: Insert your last name(s) here.
  • Geburtsname: If your last name differs from your maiden name, you can add your maiden name here.
  • Geburtstag: Select your date of birth.
  • Geburtsort: Add the city you were born in.
  • Geburtsland: Select the country you were born in.
  • Staatsangehörigkeit: Select your citizenship.

Then, your address – this should be the same one as on your residence permit, i.e. the one where you’re officially registered.

  • Straße: Street name.
  • Hausnummer: Number (If you live in a building that has several numbers, e.g. Kuglerstraße 10-14, add the first one here, and the second one in the field below named “Hausnummer bis”.)
  • Adresszusatz: If you live with someone and your name is not on the doorbell, you can add the “c/o Max Mustermann” here. You can also leave it blank.
  • Land: Country – Germany / Deutschland.
  • Postleitzahl: ZIP code.
  • Ort: City.

Now, onto your contact data!

  • Telefonnummer: Phone number
  • Telefaxnummer: Fax number
  • E-Mail: Email address
  • Homepage: Website URL

Last, but not least, if your business needs additional permits – like a café for example – and you already have them, check “ja” here. Pro tip: Get all the necessary permits before you register your business!

You can find a list of all the businesses that need additional permits here (Sorry, German only – couldn’t find a translation in English. Let me know if you’d like one in the comments!) A café or restaurant (basically, anything with food) is the most likely case where a small business owner needs additional permits.

If you don’t need additional permits (which is most likely the case), just check “nein” here.

The next step is only applicable if you’re not a German citizen. As a German citizen, you will never ever even see this screen. If you’re not, you need to add in a bit of information about your residence permit.

First up, when was your residence permit issued? Select the date in the first box.

Then, add which official government institute (e.g. Ausländerbehörde Berlin, “Ausstellende Behörde”) issued your residence permit.

You can also add the ZIP code (“Postleitzahl”) and the city (“Ort”).

Next, you need to check whether your residence permit has any restrictions. If it doesn’t, just check “nein”. If it does, check “ja” and add the restrictions it has in the next box.

Then, click “Weiter”.

Now, you need to add the address of the location of your business.

  • Straße: Street name.
  • Hausnummer: Number (If you live in a building that has several numbers, e.g. Kuglerstraße 10-14, add the first one here, and the second one in the field below named “Hausnummer bis”.)
  • Adresszusatz: If you live with someone and your name is not on the doorbell, you can add the “c/o Max Mustermann” here. You can also leave it blank.
  • Postleitzahl: ZIP code.
  • Ort: City.

You can also add more contact details. Most likely they won’t differ from your personal ones you added a couple of steps prior to this, but just in case …

  • Telefonnummer: Phone number
  • Telefaxnummer: Fax number
  • E-Mail: Email address
  • Homepage: Website URL

And THAT’S IT! YOU’RE DONE! (At least with the trade license / small business owner application.)

Now, there’s one last step on the platform:

 

4.    Identity Declaration / Identitätserklärung

 Your personal details should be pre-filled here. If not, just add

  • Name, Vorname: Last name and first name
  • Strasse, Nr: Street and number
  • PLZ – Ort: ZIP code and city

Then, check the box next to “Identitätsbestätigung” – which basically just says that you say you are who you claim to be in your business registration – and click “Weiter”.

WOHOOO!

Now, you’ve successfully completed

  • Residence Permit / Aufenthaltserlaubnis
  • Tax Office Registration / Finanzamtsanmeldung Gewerbe
  • Business Registration / Gewerbeanmeldung
  • Identity Declaration / Identitätserklärung

and the status next to the documents should say “Vorhanden” instead of “Fehlt noch”.

You should also be able to click on “Jetzt einreichen” – which you want to do now!! Once you’ve done that, you’ve successfully submitted your registration for your new small business – congratulations!!