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In Germany you can find information about companies in the Companies register (Unternehmensregister). This central platform stores legally important company data such as financial and accounting reports, shareholder information, etc. You can access it in English via this link here.
To find a company’s information on this platform, you only need the company name, but a finer search will require at least one or more of the following:
- the address of its registered office;
- its legal status;
- its court of record;
- the type of register;
- its registration number.
Access to company information is free; however, access to original documents is subject to fees.
Moreover, the Federal Official Gazette (Bundesanzeiger), an online platform, serves as the official publication forum for all government, court or corporate announcements on corporate matters such as business information, financial statements and the capital market. This platform is the German version of the European Business Register. Companies can also use the Federal Gazette to store or publish any relevant and up-to-date information about their activities. Searching for publications on this platform is free and the platform is accessible here.
TYPES OF REGISTERED COMPANIES
Germany has 3 main types of registered business entities which can be subdivided into entities that differ based on capital, liability, management structure, etc. Those are :
- Sole proprietorships
Individual company (Einzelunternehmen)
It is an unincorporated business 100% owned by one person who invests all capital in the business, enjoys all rights and personally assumes all liabilities.
These are usually started by two people, companies or organizations. Depending on the type of partnership, the parties involved may either assume full liability or limit their liability to their capital contributions. The types of registered partnerships are:
- Global partnership (Offene Handelsgesellschaft -OHG)
- Partnership limit (Kommanditgesellschaft – KG)
- Partnership limited by shares (Kommanditgesellschaft auf Aktien – KgaA)
- Civil law partnership (Gesellschaft Bürgerlichen -GbR)
- Limited partnership with a limited liability company as the sole partner with unlimited liability (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung & Compagnie Kommanditgesellschaft – GmbH & Co. KG)
- Company in partnership (Partnerschaftsgesellschaft – Part G)
These are founded by one or more people. The types of companies are:
- Limited Liability Company (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung?– GmbH);
- Provisional Limited Liability Company (Unternehmergesellschaft – UG or mini GmbH)
- Public limited company/Société Anonyme (Aktiengesellchaft?– HER)
- Non-profit limited company (gemeinnützige GmbH – gGmbH)
Companies are legally required to identify their legal form (for example, by including the word GmbH after the name) so that the responsibility of the company is immediately obvious.
Finally, the Transparency register (Transparenzregister) is an online platform that stores information relating to all beneficial owners of legal persons and legal arrangements. Beneficial owners are natural persons who own or control these entities or structures. You can access the registry here. However, to search on this platform, you must first register.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.
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