HOW TO CREATE A BUSINESS IN GERMANY
Frequently asked questions and answers on start-up supply in Germany:
1. I am thinking about taking up self-employment. Where can I obtain information and advice?
Brochures and books on setting up a business, providing a first overview of self-employment and its founding process, are available at different institutions. Most important are, however, the questions you have to ask yourself – ideally before setting up your own business. Among these questions are:
- what have you learned / been trained in?
- do these experiences match your business idea?
- are you prepared to bear the entrepreneurial risk?
- are you willing to work extra hours (at least at the beginning of your self-employment)?
It is best to discuss these issues with a business start-up advisor, e.g. the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK, www.ihk.de), the German Chamber of Crafts and Trade (hwk, www.hwk.de) or a foundation center (e.g. Cometa, www.cometa.de). Also the brochure “Ein Wegweiser für den Schritt in die Selbständigkeit”, published by the Federal Labor Office www.arbeitsagentur.de, as well as the business start-up portal of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy www.existenzgründer.de provide plenty of information.
2. Which institutions can give advice prior to and on my way to self-employment and support me financially?
There are many institutions which provide information on business start-up and start-up support, e.g. the chambers of industry and commerce or the local labor offices. Under www.dihk.de and www.arbeitsagentur.de you can find addresses and phone numbers of the regionally responsible contact partners. General and financial support is moreover provided by chambers of crafts and trade, professional associations, financial institutions and foundation centers. Useful websites are:
3. I am unemployed and want to become self-employed. Which financial support can I get?
First of all, you have to be registered with the labor office. If you receive unemployment benefits, you can apply for a start-up grant. If you receive benefits from a German Jobcenter, you can apply for an integration bonus as well as for loans and subsidies. Moreover, various institutions offer financial support for founders of a new business; different types of start-up loans are granted by the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) www.kfw.de / www.foerderdatenbank.de / www.kfw.de) or, in Bavaria, the LfA Förderbank Bayern www.lfa.de.
4. Does my labor office / job center support me in the course of preparing my self-employment?
Prior to setting up a business, the labor office or job center takes over the costs of individual measures as far as these are necessary for the preparation of setting up a business.
5. I have set up my own business only recently, but my income is not enough to live on.
Is there a possibility of applying for social benefits in addition to set-up subsidies or introductory benefits?
Yes, this possibility exists. Under the precondition that you are fit for work and entitled to benefits, you can apply for unemployment benefits in parallel to your self-employment. However, you have to inform the labor office / job center about any income as this has to be taken into consideration when it comes to the calculation of said unemployment benefits.
6. Where can I get / where do I have to apply for start-up support?
It is important to apply for start-up support prior to taking up self-employment as a main occupation. The Federal Labor Office will then check whether the start-up subsidy is the best method for your integration into the labor market. This also includes the search for possible employment alternatives subject to compulsory insurance. In addition, the labor office verifies your entrepreneurial aptitude and the sustainability of your business concept. Competent authorities such as chambers, foundation centers, professional associations and financial institutions have to present an attestation of sustainability to the labor office. If all documents are at hand, the local labor office will make its decision at its discretion.
7. To which amount and for how long do I receive start-up support?
In order to secure your subsistence, you can receive start-up support during the first six months equaling the amount of the unemployment benefits last received plus EUR 300.- per month for social coverage.
8. Can the start-up support be extended?
After the initial six months, further start-up support of EUR 300.- per months can be granted for another nine months.
9. Is the start-up support taxable income?
No. Only the income generated by your self-employment is taxable.