Choosing your legal status

Please note

Since 31 July 2017, you have been able to use the Business Service Portal (USP) to set up a business electronically.

Before starting your own business, you have to choose your business' legal structure. This is an important decision to make. In simplified terms, the decision as to which legal status you should choose depends on:

  • the number of investors in the business (whether you are on your own or working with other entrepreneurs),
  • the size of the company,
  • the way it is financed,
  • arrangements regarding liability, etc.

Before you decide whether to set up as an sole proprietor or as a company you should weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of both options. You can take advice on this from a business specialist or from your accountant/tax adviser.

You can also find detailed information about the different legal structures on the

In order to encourage cooperation across the EU single market, the EU also gives entrepreneurs the option of setting up under EU law as a  European Company (societas europea), European Econmic Interest Grouping  or  European Cooperative Society zu organisieren.

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Last update: 30 March 2023
Responsible for the content:
  • USP Editorial Staff
  • Federal Ministry of Labour and Economy