What does the German Company Register offer?
The German Commercial Register (Handelsregister) portal is run by the Ministry of Justice of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia on behalf of the other German federal states (Länder). It provides centralised access to all federal state registers of companies, cooperatives and partnerships and to announcements for the register.
General information can be found in English, French, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Spanish and Turkish on the Commercial Register portal; however, the actual information in the register itself is mainly in German.
Additional information on bankruptcies, accounting/financial reports and capital markets can be found on the website of the German Company Register. This platform has been translated into English, French, Italian and Spanish, although the information in the register itself is mainly in German (however, the information on capital markets is partly available in English and other languages). The German Company Register is, moreover, linked to the Commercial Register portal, so it is possible to run a data search in both registers.
Is access to the German Company Register free of charge?
Registration in the German Company Register is free of charge. Searching for individual companies and consulting publications and business owners data are also free of charge. For each retrieval of data linked to a specific registration number (e.g. the current version, chronological print-out, historic print-out or tree structure of documents), there is a charge of EUR 4.50 (print-out) or EUR 1.50 (tree structure of documents).
How to search the German Company Register
Depending on the information available, there are two search functions in the Commercial Register portal (normal search and advanced search). The German Company Register website also has a search function.
How reliable are the documents contained in the register?
Article 15 of the German Commercial Code (Handelsgesetzbuch) lays down the national provisions that third parties may rely on for the documents and particulars listed in Article 2 of Directive 2009/101/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 on coordination of safeguards which, for the protection of the interests of members and third parties, are required by Member States of companies within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 48 of the Treaty, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent (OJ L 258, 1.10.2009, p. 11), in accordance with Articles 3(5), (6) and (7) of this Directive.
Pursuant to Article 15: The company can only counter a third party on the basis of facts that have previously been listed and announced or those that were known to the third party beforehand (Article 15(1) of the German Commercial Code). A third party must permit such facts to apply that have been correctly listed and announced. This does not apply to legal actions initiated within fifteen days of the announcement, insofar as the third party can prove that the fact was neither known nor had needed to be known (Article 15(2) of the German Commercial Code).
If a fact that needed to be listed was announced incorrectly, a third party may rely on the announced fact with regard to the party on whose behalf the fact had to be listed, unless he or she was aware of the error (Article 15(3) of the German Commercial Code).
History of the German Company Register
All registration information recorded since 2007 is available electronically.
The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective Member State. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. The European Commission accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.