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What to consider when starting a business in Germany?

Before starting your business in Germany several other aspects besides the legal structure should be taken into consideration. An overview of frequently asked questions to common problems can be found on the website of SaarLorLux. This list will give you an overview of the challenges to be considered when creating a business in Germany.

How does the social system work in Germany and what consequences does it have for your business?

Social security guaranteed by the government is one of the greatest achievements of a social state. One hundred years ago Germany adopted the first laws regulating health insurance and retirement funding. During the twentieth century these insurances where complemented by unemployment insurance and industrial injury insurance. The social insurance covers a minimum subsistence guarantee for sickness, unemployment and dependency caused by occupational accident. The mandatory liability insurance you need to pay or provide depends on which legal form a business entity has. Therefore, it is important for business people to know exactly, which amount of capital that needs to be reserved each month, in order to pay the mandatory employee insurances. All insurance payments are split between the employer and the employee, except for the industrial injury insurance which is solely paid by the employer. The table below provides an overview of the different types of insurances and the corresponding rates an employer has to pay in conjunction to the gross salary for an employee. The amount of social insurance paid by the employer is fixed at a maximum, which differs between the “Bundesländer" east and west. In addition, the employer is partially exempted from paying insurance contributions, when the job concerned is a so called “mini-job”, which does not exceed a monthly salary of 400 Euro.

Title Participation rate on total gross salary Insurance payment ceiling
West East
Monthly salary Annual salary Monthly salary Annual salary
Health Insurance 7.3% 3,750 € 45,000 € 3,750 € 45,000 €
Long-term care Insurance 0.975% 3,750 € 45,000 € 3,750 € 45,000 €
Pension Insurance 9.95% 5,500 € 66,000 € 4,650 € 55,800 €
Unemployment Insurance 1.4% 5,500 € 66,000 € 4,650 55,800 €
Industrial Injury Insurance Based on salary and risk classification of work performed: (average: 1.3%) - - - -

Collective agreements

Collective agreements are an important source for German labor law, especially since there is no fixed minimum wage in Germany. Following the principle of tariff autonomy anchored in the German constitution, the legislation is not in a position to intervene in this area, which remains subject only to negotiations between unions and employers organizations. In most cases the minimum wage and other benefits will become part of the discussion between employers and the unions. The unions and employers will decide on a collective agreement, which will set the minimum wage and other secondary benefits for the entire sector. Below you have a link to the major collective agreements of some of the industries in Saarland and Germany.
For more complete information, please go on the link below.

What amount of tax to pay?

Although every EU member state is responsible for its own fiscal law, the VAT legislation, which is based on European directives, has many similarities in the so called “Euro-Zone”. Nevertheless, it also has some differences. The VAT rates for example, differ per country in level and the exceptions to the different reduced tax rates vary in different countries.

For historic reasons, the VAT is still called the "turnover tax" (Umsatzsteuer) in Germany, although not the turnover is subject to taxation but the difference between the input and output, i.e. the added value. Generally, the consumer pays the value added tax, so it is strictly speaking an excise tax. The regular German VAT is 19% on goods and services. The reduced tax rate of 7% applies for a limited product circle.

How to find commercial areas for activities in Saarland?

The business area catalog “Gewiss” (“Gewerbeflächen Informationssystem Saarland” - information system on commercial premises in Saarland) was created by the Ministry of Economy and Society and the Saarland Economic Promotion Agency (gwSaar) in cooperation with the cities and towns of Saarland. The catalogs principle is to provide an overview of commercial areas which are currently available for potential investors. This tool can also be utilized for cooperation possibilities with other companies in the same area. Be aware that only areas larger than 0.5 ha have been identified. “Gewiss” allows searching based on municipals, size, availability and distance to the nearest highway.
Furthermore, there are several business incubators in Germany that support small and medium sized enterprises. Below are the addresses of several business incubators and technology centers that relate specifically to Saarland. (Websites are in German)

Regional Association Saarbrücken
IT-Park Saarland Nell-Breuning-Allee 8
66115 Saarbrücken
Telefon 0681/9762-102
Telefax 0681/9762-120

Science Park Saar GmbH Science Park 2
66123 Saarbrücken
Telefon 0681/30960
Telefax 0681/3096-2609

Starterzentren der Universität des Saarlandes- Startercenter University Saarland Campus Saarbrücken
Geb. A1 1
66123 Saarbrücken
Telefon 0681/302-2656
Telefax 0681/302-4270

FITT – Institut für Technologietransfer an der HTW des Saarlandes gGmbH- College of the Saarland Institute for technologytransfer Goebenstraße 40
66117 Saarbrücken
Telefon 0681/5850-40
Telefax 0681/5850-42

GTZ – Gründer- und Technologiezentrum- Founder and technologycenter Völklingen Rathausstraße 75-79
66310 Völklingen
Telefon 06898/513111
Telefax 06898/513100
UZP – Gesellschaft für Unternehmensansiedlung Püttlingen mbh- Society for business development Püttlingen mbh Viktoriastraße 26
66346 Püttlingen
Telefon 06898/6980
Telefax 06898/698-109

Region Saarpfalz
Gründerzentrum Handwerk – Founder and SME center and crafts incubators Saarpfalz-Park Bexbach
Gebäude 1 a
66450 Bexbach
Telefon 06826/52080
Telefax 06826/5208-28

BIZ Homburg GmbH Am Forum 5
66424 Homburg
Telefon 06841/101-209
Telefax 06841/101-252

Gewerbe- und Technologiepark- Industry and technology park Kastanienweg 15
66386 St. Ingbert
Telefon 06894/9040
Telefax 06894/904-111

Innovationspark am Beckerturm GmbH & Co.KG Kaiserstraße 170-174
66386 St. Ingbert
Telefon 06894/103-174
Telefax 06894/103-173

District Merzig- Wadern
Unternehmerzentrum Losheim Gemeinde Losheim am See - Entrepreneurial center Losheim community Losheim am See Rathaus/Wirtschaftsförderung
66679 Losheim
Telefon 06872/609-110
Telefax 06872/609-180

District St. Wendel
UTZ – Unternehmer- und Technologiezentrum St. Wendel – Entrepreneur and technology center St Wendel Werschweilerstraße 40
66606 St. Wendel
Telefon 06851/903-100
Telefax 06851/903-104


How do I find a company to acquire?

Establish a new company or acquire an existing one? This is one of first questions potential investors need to find an answer to when intended to start a business activity in Saarland. Sometimes it is interesting to take over an existing company instead of establishing a new one. An existing company has already expertise in doing business in Saarland and the connections with local suppliers and customers which eases the manufacturing or distribution of products.

The German Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology have created a professional business exchange platform, where enterprises have the opportunity to locate companies which are currently for sale or looking for cooperation possibilities. On the other hand, within the same tool interested businesses can publish their request to acquire or corporate with a business entity.

The request and participation conditions are available on the following link.
(Website in German)

For additional information, including information on government grants, please look up the FAQ’s section of Germany Trade & Invest.