Foreign Businesses in Germany
In principle, business activities in Germany are free from regulations restricting day-to-day business. German law generally makes no distinction between Germans and foreign nationals regarding investments or the establishment of companies.
Intellectual property is well protected by patent laws which extend the same conditions enjoyed by Germans to foreign entrepreneurs. Where necessary, investor rights can be enforced by Germany’s efficient judicial system.
Reliable laws enable companies to plan their investments effectively and licenses granted by the authorities provide a secure base for breaking ground on a construction project or operating a plant.
Foreign Trade and Payments Act
Germany has an open and welcoming attitude towards foreign direct investment (FDI). The legal framework for FDI in Germany favors the principle of freedom of foreign trade and payment transaction as laid down in the Foreign Trade and Payments Act (Außenwirtschaftsgesetz).
The Foreign Trade and Payments Act allows the imposition of restrictions on inward and outward FDI for reasons of foreign policy, foreign exchange, or national security. However, in practice, such restrictions are seldom imposed. There is no broad authority to review foreign direct investment (except for the defense and cryptology sectors).
Importers in Germany need neither an import permit nor an import control declaration. This applies to both residents, meaning natural persons residing in Germany as well as legal entities or partnerships with a registered office or management headquarters in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany.
On certain goods import duties apply, which over the past years have been constantly reduced. Some goods, such as agricultural products, food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and goods of strategic relevance are subject to certain import restrictions. In such cases import licenses and surveillance documents may need to be obtained before importing to Germany.