Client note: doing business in Germany


German law offers numerous alternatives for pursuing entrepreneurial activities. The corporate legal forms available for this purpose are for the most part defined in German statutory regulations which may be modified by contractual provisions to a greater or lesser extent.

This brochure intends to give you an overview of the various legal frameworks within which businesses can operate in Germany. The following text comments on the main characteristics of the various legal forms and their differences, the formation, functioning and the liability of the respective corporate forms. The analysis begins with the German limited liability company (GmbH) as the most common form of corporation in Germany. The focus then turns to the German stock corporation (AG) whose shares can be traded on a stock exchange, followed by the partnership limited by shares (KGaA) and the limited liability partnership (GmbH & Co. KG). The establishment of branch offices of foreign companies is also briefly dealt with. The brochure concludes with an overview of the most recent corporate law developments in European legislation and the various tax law issues applicable to businesses. 

Please regard this client note as a brief summary provided merely to give an initial overview of the various possible entrepreneurial models in Germany. Given the complexity of company law, it can by no means serve as a substitute for legal advice which our German offices will gladly provide at any time…

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