Businesses Subject to Permission

When you open a business, either as an individual or corporate, certain lines of business require permission and some only a registration. However, it can also happen that you do not need a permission to pursue your business, but you have to register it a certain authority. Sound confusing, let's unravel the mystery of starting a business.

What are the general rules? The general rule is that you are free to run any business you wish; i.e. without permission. All trades and corporations must register their business. Applying for a permission requires that you have previously registered your business at the trade office (Gewerbeamt) in their municipality. The list below will show common examples where a license is necessary – next to registration at the trade office.

Accounting Firms

§§1 pIII, 28 ff. Gesetz über eine Berufsordnung der Wirtschaftsprüfer (WiPrO) at regional chamber of accountants
assuming you have no German training, the permission can be exclusively for your home law

Alternative Practioner

§1 I Heilpraktikergesetz licensing at regional chamber of physicians

Arms, Weapons

All these mentioned lines of business require a license:

  • Production and Trade §21 Waffengesetz
  • Running Shooting Ranges §27 Waffengesetz
  • Production and Trade of Military Weapons §§2 ff. Kriegswaffenkontrollgesetz


§34 b Gewerbeordnung


  • §6 Luftverkehrsgesetz (airports)
  • §§20, 21 Luftverkehrsgesetz (carriers)


§§1 I cl. 2, 32 Kreditwesengesetz entry into Commercial Registry will only happen after permission has been shown to the registry, §43 Kreditwesengesetz

Bars, Pubs when serving alcoholic beverages

§2 Gaststättengesetz

Broker for Real Estate and Capital Investment Products

§34 c I cl. 1 no. 1 Gewerbeordnung


§§1 ff. Spielbankengesetz of the Federal States

Collection Agencies

§1 I cl. 2 no. 5 Rechtsberatungsgesetz

Commodity Futures

§32 Kreditwesengesetz


§§1, 7 Handwerksordnung entry into the Roll of Crafts; corporations require to show a certificate promising the entry in the Roll of Crafts prior to entry into Commercial Registry

Disposal Sites

§31 II Kreislaufwirtschafts- und Abfallgesetz

Distance or Remote Education

§12 Fernunterrichtsschutzgesetz

Driving School

§10 I Fahrlehrergesetz

Emigration Consultation

§1 Auswandererschutzgesetz

Employee Leasing

§§1 ff. Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz

Explosives: Handling, Vending, and Transportation

§§7, 27 Sprengstoffgesetz

Exposition / Ostentation of Persons

§33 a Gewerbeordnung

Facility with Harmful Effects to the Environment for opening and running

§4 Bundesimmissionsschutzgesetz

Ferry Operation

§39 I Landeswassergesetz of the Federal States

Financial Services

§§1 I a cl. 2, 32 Kreditwesengesetz

Gambling Halls, Penny / Amusement Arcades

§33 i Gewerbeordnung

Gaming Devices and Games with the Possibility to Win

§§33 c, 33 d Gewerbeordnung

Gas / Petrol Stations

§13 I no. 3 Betriebssicherheitsverordnung

Genetic Engineering Facitlities

§8 Gentechnikgesetz

Hospitals, Private General and Maternity

§30 Gewerbeordnung

Insurance Brokering

§34 d I GewO

Insurance Companies

§5 Versicherungsaufsichtsgesetz< br/> pursuant to §7 VAG, an insurance company is not permissible in the form of a GmbH

Investment Companies

§7 Investmentgesetz

Legal Consultation; Conducting Legal Business of Third Parties

§§59 c ff BRAO; Art. 1 §1 Rechtsberatungsgesetz

Loan Brokering

§34 c I no. 1 b Gewerbeordnung

Lodging Establishments

(with more than eight guest beds) §2 IV Gaststättengesetz


§§1 ff. Lotterieverordnung of the Federal States

Mining, Detecting Natural Resources

§§6 ff. Bundesberggesetz

Nuclear Plants, Storage of Nuclear Fuel

§§6, 7 Atomgesetz

Old People's Home

§12 HeimG (duty to report)

Participation in Companies

§1 Gesetz über Unternehmensbeteiligungsgesellschaften

Passenger Transportation (Taxis, Busses, e.g.)

§2 Personenbeförderungsgesetz

Pawn Shops

§34 Gewerbeordnung

Piercing Studio

§1 I Heilpraktikergesetz

Postal Services (letter forwarding)

§5 I Postgesetz


§8 Gesetz über das Apothekenwesen
not permitted to be run as a corporation


  • §13 Arzneimittelgesetz (Production)
  • §52 a Arzneimittelgesetz (Wholesale)
  • §72 Arzneimittelgesetz (Import & Export)

Poisons, Trading with Poison

  • §4 I, II Chemikaliengesetz: registration required prior to placing new substances on the market
  • §12 a Chemikaliengesetz: permission prior to bringing new biocidal substances on the market

Rail Companies (Infrastructure / Operation)

§6 Allgemeines Eisenbahngesetz

Real Estate Development

§34 c II no. 2 a und b Gewerbeordnung

Recruitment / Employee Assignment

§§1 ff. Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz

Realtors, Real Estate Brokers

§34 c I no. 1 a Gewerbeordnung

Road Haulage

§3 Güterkraftverkehrsgesetz

Security Industry

§34 a Gewerbeordnung

Tax Consulting Companies

§§32 III, 49 ff. Steuerberatungsgesetz
recognition required when incorporating


§6 I Telekommunikationsgesetz

Towing Services (for vehicles not needing repairs)

§3 Güterkraftverkehrsgesetz

Travel Business

§§55 ff. Gewerbeordnung

Traveling Performers / Carnies / Showmen

§55 I no. 2 Gewerbeordnung


§8 Tierschutzgesetz

Waste Disposal Plant

§31 I Kreislaufwirtschafts- und Abfallgesetz i.c.w. §4 Bundesimmissionsschutzgesetz

Waste Transport and Collection

§49 Kreislaufwirtschafts- und Abfallgesetz; §1 Transportgenehmigungsverordnung

Don't forget, applying for a permission requires that you have previously registered your business at the trade office (Gewerbeamt) in your municipality. If you apply for a permission first without having registered your business you can be fined. Even if you are in a hurry, register first and then apply for a permission. Of course, best is to do both simultaneously.

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