A commercial activity is any legal, profit-oriented and long-term form of self-employment. This excludes liberal professions (e.g. doctors, solicitors, architects, liberal scientific, artistic and literary professions) and agricultural and forestry (primary production).
As a central administrative law governing trade and industry, the GewO (German Commerce Regulation Act) provides a regulatory framework for all professional activity. The GewO is also an important basis of monitoring of trade under public law.
The GewO distinguishes between:
trades, which are only subject to notification,
trade requiring a licence, such as the security industry, insurance brokers and consultants, financial investment brokers, loan brokers, real estate brokers, developers and construction supervisors, the pawn broking trade, auctioneering and the operation of gaming halls,
trades subject to supervision, such as travel agencies, purchase and sale of motor vehicles, precious metals, gems and jewellery, dating services and matchmakers as well as the
You can obtain the trade licences from the concerned authorities either by yourself or through the Point of Single Contact.
If you want to do a trade subject to supervision, you must apply for licence prior to registration of the trade. If they are personal requirements, the trader must fulfil them by himself, while the managing representative does it in the case of establishing a legal entity (e.g. limited liability company (GmbH), incorporated company (AG)).
Requirements for licence are:
Reliability of the Applicant: it is assessed on the basis of a criminal record certificate, excerpt from a central trade register or a clearance certificate from the revenue office.
Economic performance: the Applicant must live in proper economic conditions. Disadvantages include, e.g. negative rating from credit investigation company or personal bankruptcy.
The commercial premises must be suitable for the business operations.