In Germany, you can find company information in the Company 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 through this link here.
To find a company's information on this platform, you only need the company name, but a more refined search will require at least one or more of the following:
- its registered office address;
- its legal status;
- its registration court;
- the type of register;
- its registration number.
Accessing company information is free of charge; however, accessing original documents is subject to a fee.
Additionally, the Federal Gazette (Bundesanzeiger), an online platform, serves as the official publication forum for any announcements from the government, courts or companies on corporate matters such as business disclosures, financial statements and the capital market. This platform is the German-version of European Business Registry. Companies can also use the Federal Gazette to store or publish any relevant and up-to-date information on their businesses. The search 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 further broken down into entities that differ based on capital, liability, management structure etc. These are:
- Sole Proprietorships
Sole Proprietorship (Einzelunternehmen)
This is an unincorporated business wholly owned by one person who invests all the capital in the business and enjoys all rights and bears all its liabilities personally.
These are usually started by two persons, companies or organisations. Depending on the type of partnership, the parties involved can either bear its liabilities wholly or their liabilities can be limited to their capital contributions. The types of registered partnerships are:
- General Partnership (Offene Handelsgesellschaft - OHG)
- Limited Partnership (Kommanditgesellschaft - KG)
- Limited Partnership on Shares (Kommanditgesellschaft auf Aktien - KgaA)
- Civil Law Partnership (Gesellschaft bürgerlichen - GbR)
- Limited Partnership with a Limited Liability Company as the only partner with unlimited liability (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung & Compagnie Kommanditgesellschaft - GmbH & Co. KG)
- Partnership Company (Partnerschaftsgesellschaft - PartG)
These are founded by one or more persons. The types of corporations are:
- Limited Liability Company (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung?- GmbH);
- Provisional Private Limited Liability Company (Unternehmergesellschaft - UG or mini - GmbH)
- Public Limited Company/Joint-Stock Corporation (Aktiengesellchaft?- AG)
- Non-profit Limited Company (gemeinnützige GmbH - gGmbH)
Businesses are legally required to identify their legal form (for example, by including the word GmbH after the name) so that the company's liability is immediately obvious.
Lastly, the Transparency Register (Transparenzregister) is an online platform which stores information related to all beneficial owners of legal entities and legal structures. Beneficial owners are natural persons who own or control these entities or structures. You can access the register here. However, to search on this platform, you need to register first.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.