7 steps to set up your business in Berlin
30 years after the fall of the Wall, Berlin has become a motor of Germany’s economic development. The German capital has been leading growth statistics for years and over the last five years, Berlin’s GDP has grown by over 30 percent. Meanwhile employee compensation has grown by almost 40 percent and the thriving digital economy is playing an important role in this with average growth rates of around 9 percent per year.
As a thriving hub for entrepreneurs, Berlin is home to exciting startups like N26 and Clue, with hundreds more popping up each year. The capital also entices established businesses to relocate here, like former US-based ResearchGate and UK-based health start-up Ada. In addition to a high-quality lifestyle and low-cost living, the German capital offers full access to broad-based financing, an eclectic talent pool and one of the most open-minded creative scenes in the world.
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Make it happen in Berlin
When it comes to thinking outside of the norm, Berlin is a city that believes in daring to disrupt the status quo. However, every business owner, founder and talent has to take crucial steps to thrive in “Silicon Allee”.
Are you wondering where to start when it comes to setting up your business in Berlin? There are plenty of services to help you establish your business here and keep the momentum. These are seven key elements you should put in place:
1. Check your status
As an entrepreneur in Berlin, it’s important you identify and understand what type of visa and residential requirements you need to meet in order to relocate or set up a legitimate business here.
You can find out about required application processes, visas or other requirements via the Berlin Immigration Service (BIS). The BIS provides prompt advice and generally replies to enquires within 48 hours. You can also use the Quick Visa Check online survey to determine if you require things like residence or work permits.
As a non-German in Berlin, you also need to register at the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigners Registration Office) and can book an appointment online. Once you book your appointment, you should receive a confirmation, which includes a list of all required documents. You can also apply for a visa directly at the German embassy in your home country.
2. Choose a legal business status
Before relocating or setting up your business in Berlin, you need to register it at the appropriate office associated with the legal business form or type you chose.. The most common legal forms include GmbH, GbR, UG and Limited, though there are different options for individual founders and those with one or more partner. Your size, experience and level of risk all determine the appropriate legal form for your business. Check here for a detailed list of all legal forms for startups in Berlin.
The Point of Single Contact organisation can also give you advice to determine the best type of legal form for your business and help you register.
3. Pick your location
The combination of more affordable real estate and lower human resource costs than other major cities make Berlin a highly attractive business location. As the second-largest city in Europe, Berlin is made up of 12 distinct districts that offer unique and vibrant communities. Buzzing areas like Mitte and Kreuzberg attract an international tech crowd, while Aldershof is home to more specialised high-tech companies and research institutions. You’re looking for a more seasoned business environment? Then the western district of Charlottenburg is your place to be.
Scout the city, research businesses and speak to residents before you decide on an area. You can also search for your ideal location via the Real Estate Portal of the Business Location Center website. These services can give you an insightful overview of commercial real estate and spaces available across the city andhelp you compare and select the right property for your business needs.
4. Notify the authorities
Before you start your business, you must notify the regulatory agency (Ordnungsamt) in the district your business will be based. During your meeting with them, you’ll need to present your identity card or passport, any required licences, and documentation such as an extract from the Commercial Register, if registering a new corporation. You must also keep the Ordnungsamt informed about any changes you make to your business in the future.
The tax office, Employers’ Liability Insurance Association (Berufsgenossenschaft), Chamber of Commerce and Industry and/ or Chamber of Skilled Crafts will also be informed of this notification.
That’s it - you’ve covered all the legal basics. But don’t forget to explore other available support that can help your business excel.
5. Find financial support
Berlin enjoys an investment-friendly climate and offers the full spectrum of support options for startups, including funding programmes for all stages of your company’s development.
From business loans, funding, investments and loan guarantees, the Business Customer Centre at the Investitionsbank Berlin (IBB) and their Business Support Guide provide a wide range of support programmes for businesses in Berlin.
Also have a look at the Business Location Centre’s Business Financing Packages, which offer advice about appropriate funding and financing solutions tailored to your needs – whether you intend to move to Berlin, grow at your current location, or are planning an investment project.
6. Expand your network
Berlin is full of excellent opportunities to connect with peers and get a sense of the capital‘s tech ecosystem. The city is home to some of the best entrepreneur-focussed networking events in Europe, including Tech Open Air, Startup Safari and Startup Night to name only a few. Other important business networks in the city include Germany’s largest regional startup initiative Berlin-Brandenburg Business Plan Competition (BPW) and global business and startup connector Start Alliance.
7. Get help at every stage
From starting out to taking the next bold steps in Berlin, as a successful entrepreneur you have to put the right things in place to take your business forward. Berlin Partner can be your resource foradvice and support to help your business flourish or expand to new markets. For more information on Berlin business hub and city worth living in, keep on reading Reason-Why Berlin. Get started now!
Text: Trish Elms
Images: Pexels / Unsplash
This article has been previously published on UKTN here.
Would you like to find out more about the economy in Berlin or funding opportunities? Interested in doing business in Berlin?
Contact Berlin Partner, the Economic Development Agency for Berlin. We're happy to help you. Just give us a call.