Germany: providing services and travelling for business

Guidance for UK businesses on rules for selling services to Germany.

The authoritative source for German market regulations is the German government. This guidance links to official German sources wherever possible.

Trade and services regulations in Germany

If you’re a UK business offering services in Germany, you need to follow regulations about:

  • getting an authorisation or a licence to provide a service
  • complying with local business regulations
  • EEA nationality requirements which could prevent you from providing services in some sectors

Use the Recognition in Germany portal to:

  • find out about providing services in Germany
  • understand local regulations
  • complete any relevant administrative procedures online

Consider appointing an English-speaking lawyer in Germany to help you comply with specific regulations. You can also contact your local chamber of commerce for advice.

To find out if EEA nationality requirements apply to you, contact the appropriate competent authority or the German Federal Foreign Office.

Trade reservations

To sell or provide services to customers in Germany, you must follow local laws. If in doubt, you should get professional advice.

Reservations are part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. They reserve the right of each party to keep or make new laws restricting investment, or the sale of services, in ways that would otherwise breach the rules in the agreement.

Check which reservations apply to the sale of services from the UK to Germany. This includes an interactive tool to find reservations that are already in place.

VAT on sales of digital services

To use the UK’s VAT Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) to declare sales of digital services to EU consumers, businesses need to register for MOSS in an EU member state.

Find out more about paying VAT on sales of digital services.

Ownership of companies registered in Germany

If you have a UK business, you might face restrictions on your ability to own, manage or direct a registered company in Germany or any other EEA country.

For information about setting up and running a business in Germany, please visit Germany Trade & Invest.

Read more about this in our guidance relating to the EEA and Switzerland.

UK legal professionals who have investments in law firms in Germany should contact the Germany Federal Bar Association (site in German) for information on what implications are for your investment.

Business travel and entry requirements

UK business travellers and service providers may need a visa, work permit or other documentation.

Check our travel to Germany for work guide for detailed information on:

  • types of visa and work permit routes available
  • exemptions that may apply to you or the activity you are planning to undertake

The German Consulate and the German Federal Employment Agency websites have more information about:

  • visas including intra-corporate transfers
  • work and residence permits
  • supporting documentation
  • other conditions

Check which actions travellers visiting Europe need to take.

Social security payments for employees

Find out if you need to pay National Insurance in the UK or social security contributions in Germany.

Recognition of professional qualifications

To check what you need to do in Germany, read our guidance on professional qualifications in the EEA and Switzerland

If you need to take action to secure the recognition of your professional qualification in Germany, these sources can help you:

UK statutory auditors working in Germany

For UK statutory auditors, the German Chamber of Public Accountants should be able to provide further information.

UK lawyers working in Germany

If you’re a UK-qualified lawyer working in Germany, using either a German professional title or a UK professional title, you should contact the local German Bar association (site in German) in the region in which you are working or the Germany Federal Bar Association (site in German) for specific advice.

Data transfer and GDPR

On 28 June 2021, the EU formally adopted ‘adequacy decisions’ for the UK, delivered through:

‘Adequacy decisions’ allow for the ongoing free flow of personal data from the EU/EEA to the UK.

Read guidance on using data in your personal business or other organisation.

Published 28 February 2019
Last updated 11 June 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added 'Trade reservations' guidance. Updated 'Recognition of professional qualifications' with new UK contact point.

  2. Updated the Business travel and entry requirements section to include a link to guidance on travelling to Germany for work.

  3. Updated sections on: overview, trade regulations, VAT on sales of digital services, business travel and entry requirements, social security payments for employees, recognition of professional qualifications, and data transfer and GDPR.

  4. Guidance for ‘Business travel and entry requirements’, ‘Social security payments for employees’ and ‘Recognition of professional qualifications’ updated.

  5. Update to guidance for business travel and entry requirements.

  6. Change to title to include travelling for business

  7. Update to 'Business travel and entry requirements' section

  8. First published.