German business etiquette

What is useful vocabulary when doing business in Germany`

Before you get started, here are a few terms you must understand:

  • Aufenthaltstitel: residence permit, or visa.
  • Bürgeramt: the citizen's office. This is where you register your address.
  • Finanzamt: the tax office. The tax office (Finanzamt) is responsible for collecting taxes in Germany. When you start a business or become a freelancer in Germany, you must declare your business with them by filling the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung. You can find the correct Finanzamt for your area on this page. Just enter your postal code in the search box.
  • Freiberufler: freelancer. In Germany, this title is reserved to specific professions, so not every freelancer is a Freiberufler. See below for more details.
  • Gewerbe: trade or business. Self-employed workers that are not Freiberufler must register as a Gewerbe. You need a trade licence (Gewerbeschein) to operate as a Gewerbe. See below for more details.
  • Gewerbeschein: trade licence. This allows you to operate as a Gewerbe.