Meaning of Trade Register

If you run a business that is neither a free occupation nor a so-called primary production, you have to register your company in the local community. You can find out everything about the trade register and the trade register center here.

What is a trade register?

The trade register in Germany is kept by the municipal authorities. Commercial operations are listed here that are based in the corresponding municipality and are obliged to report according to §14 GewO (trade regulations). When registering, you must provide information about the business owner (name, address, date of birth) and the company itself (management, activity, address). The trade register therefore provides information about the companies located in a municipality .

In principle, all traders are required to register . Only freelancers (e.g. doctors, lawyers, etc.) and original productions (forestry and agriculture) are exempt from this obligation. According to §14 GewO, an entry in the trade register is always mandatory if the following facts are present:

  • You carry out a commercial activity .
  • You are taking over an already existing business (data needs to be updated!).
  • You lay your fit business enterprise ( commercial re-registration ).
  • You’re setting up a branch .
  • You are changing the business direction within your company.

Every citizen can apply for information on the trade register. However, whether the request for information is granted depends on the competent authority at your place of residence.


If your activity does not fall under that of a freelancer or small business owner, you are subject to accounting obligations and are obliged to keep double-entry bookkeeping.

What is in the trade register?

All important information about your company is recorded in the trade register. In addition to the operation and the company name , this also includes the address of the company headquarters, the exact activity and the name of the managing director. In addition, your details as the business owner will be noted: name, address, date of birth and possibly your training status (master craftsman, bachelor, technician, etc.). According to § 14 Abs. 5 GewO , this data can be exchanged between authorities.

Who is in the trade register?

In the commercial register are all business owners an ongoing business enterprise according to the Industrial Code. For this, some principles such as planning, profit intent, independence and external impact must be given. The owner is entered by name and with some private data, such as address and date of birth.

Who is entered in the trade register?

In the commercial registers are all companies of a community noted that have their headquarters or a branch in the respective municipality. Businesses that have the following characteristics are considered to be commercial activities:

  • The trade must be subject to plan and the intention to make a profit, i.e. the activity is designed for the long term and should contribute significantly to the owner’s livelihood.
  • The activity is directed outwards. So it is advertised and you act on behalf of the company.
  • It is a self-employed activity in accordance with Section 84 (1) of the German Commercial Code . Accordingly, as the owner, you are not bound by instructions or you belong to the liberal professions (doctors, lawyers, etc.). In addition, you do not belong to agriculture or forestry.

All registered trades are subject to the trade regulations, which take care of applicable licensing requirements, the execution of the activity and much more.

What is the Central Trade Register?

Whether the two types of registers are very similar, you should not confuse the trade register with the central trade register (GZR). The GZR is managed by the Federal Justice Office and is a separate department of the Federal Central Register .

A Central Trade Register information is needed to make a business license issued to obtain. In such a case, you have to apply for document type 9 “Information to an authority” . If you as a private person would like to know about any entries, you can request document type 1 “Information to the person concerned” .

Put simply, an extract from the central trade register is a kind of certificate of good conduct.

What are the different entry options?

The GZR contains all violations related to your commercial activity. An extract from the central trade register can consist of four types of entries in accordance with Section 149 (2) of the Trade Regulations (GewO) :

  • Registration for administrative decisions
  • Registration of fines imposed
  • Entries for waiver
  • Entries related to criminal convictions

The Federal Office of Justice therefore only records in the central trade register those companies that have become conspicuous with regard to their righteous activities.

Who keeps the trade register?

The trade register is kept by the local trade office . In the case of smaller communities, this is usually the responsibility of the city, district or local authority. If the company is based in a big city, you usually have to go to the district or local office.

In contrast to this, the central trade register is managed directly by the Federal Justice Office and is part of the central federal register.

What is in the extract from the central trade register?

Any penalties associated with the registered company are noted in the extract from the central trade register. In addition to the general information on the company and the owner, the following entries can be seen in the extract from the central trade register according to Section 149 (2) GewO :

  • Fine decisions
  • Administrative decisions
  • Criminal convictions
  • Prohibition procedure
  • Take-back procedure
  • Renounce

Natural persons as well as legal persons and associations of persons according to § 149 Abs. 2 Nr. 3 GewO can be affected. Please note that such an entry will only appear on the extract if the company has violated applicable law. If the company has a “clean slate” – as with the certificate of good conduct – no note can be seen.

Trade Register