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Type of business & legal form

It is recommended that founders decide on their legal form at an early stage, as this will provide legal protection during the initiation process. When deciding on the legal form, you might want to consider your entrepreneurial objectives as well as the level of seed capital available to you.

business and legal forms for startups
© Mediaserver Hamburg / Christian O. Bruch / laif

The legal form defines the legal framework for an economically active enterprise. The individual legal forms in Germany differ mainly in terms of ownership structure and distribution of risk and/or liability of the managing directors.

Not all of the legal forms are suitable for a startup business. The following types of business are most common: Gesellschaft bürgerlichen Rechts (civil law partnership, GbR), Haftungsbeschränkte Unternehmergesellschaft (limited liability entrepreneurial company, UG), as well as Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (limited liability company, GmbH).

Legal forms in Germany
Overview of legal forms in Germany for setting up a business
Hamburg Chamber of Commerce

GmbH & UG (limited liability)
Detailed information about the two legal forms limited liability company and entrepreneurial limited company (limited liability)
Hamburg Chamber of Commerce

Consulting & Coaching

hei. coaching programme "Regulations" - Calendar of events
Various seminars relevant for entrepreneurs. Participants can receive a subsidy of up to 500 €. The events are usually held in German.
hei. calender of events

Bucerius Gründerkompass Recht
A startup-workshop that deals with the different legislative challenges of market entry (takes place annually)
Bucerius Gründerkompass Recht (german)

Notary search (Search engine)
Support in notary search (fee)
Hamburgische Notarkammer (german)

Software & Templates

German legal forms for companies
By answering a few questions about the startup project, the legal form finder helps you decide on a suitable legal form. Founder Platform (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action) (german)

Last accessed: Feb 2024