Register of Skilled Trades
Issuance of Confirmation of an Entry in the Register of Skilled Trades Craftsman’s Card
If you want to set up in business in a craft or skilled trade, you must register with the Chamber of Crafts and Skilled Trades. The list of members of the chamber is divided into three sections with different registration requirements:
- Register of crafts/skilled trades that require a licence (“Register of Skilled Trades”): Annex A to the German Trade and Crafts Code [Handwerksordnung, HwO]
- Register of crafts/skilled trades that do not require a licence: Annex B1 to the German Trade and Crafts Code
- Register of craft-like trades: Annex B2 to the German Trade and Crafts Code
Who requires an entry in the Register of Skilled Trades?
If you want to set up in business in a craft or skilled trade that requires a licence, you must fulfill certain requirements for your business in order to be entered in the Register of Skilled Trades. Details of the professions that require a licence in Germany can be found in Annex A to the German Trade and Crafts Code.
Crafts/skilled trades that do not require a licence and craft-like trades (Annex B to the German Trade and Crafts Code) may be entered in the register without proof of qualifications (master craftsman’s certificate). The Chamber of Crafts and Skilled Trades keeps a register of the owners of businesses for crafts/skilled trades that do not require a licence or craft-like trades.
If a skilled tradesperson (e.g. a bricklayer) wants to open a business, he or she must include a copy of their craftsman’s card with their business registration. The craftsman’s card will be issued once the business has been entered in the Register of Skilled Trades.
Requirements for the Register of Skilled Trades
- You have a master craftsman’s certificate or have obtained equivalent qualifications in a foreign country.
- Other examinations will be recognised if they are “equivalent” (e.g. final examinations at a German university or a state-recognised technical school, or degrees from other EU member states).
- Experienced journeymen who can provide evidence of six years of professional experience for their craft/trade—of which four years have been in a management position—may apply for entitlement to run a business under Section 7b of the German Trade and Crafts Code and may then use the entitlement issued to them to set up their own business in a craft/trade that requires a licence. This does not apply to chimney sweeps, opticians, audiologists, prosthetists, orthopaedic shoemakers or dental technicians.
- Furthermore, crafts/skilled trades under Annex A may be legally performed as freelance/independent professions through issuance of an exemption approval. An exemption approval may be granted, for example, to persons for whom the master’s examination represents an unreasonable burden and who can provide evidence that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to set up in business on their own.
- A craft/skilled trade business for a craft/skilled trade that requires a licence may also be set up or taken over in the case that the owner does not have a master craftsman’s certificate, but has taken on a manager with the necessary qualifications.
Where can I apply for a craftsman’s card?
In North Rhine-Westphalia, there are seven Chambers of Crafts and Skilled Trades, each responsible for a particular region. You will need to contact the Chamber of Crafts and Skilled Trades for the region in which you want to set up your business.
You can find information on the procedure and the application documents at your competent Chamber of Crafts:
Which documents have to be submitted?
- a copy of your ID or of a comparable identification document
- completed and signed registration application
- for registration under Annex A of the German Trade and Crafts Code: proof of qualifications (master craftsman’s certificate / EU permit)
- when hiring a manager with specialist skills: manager’s declaration and employment contract
- if necessary, commercial register excerpt from the local court (for legal entities or other registered companies)
- if necessary, articles of association if a personally liable shareholder or a manager taken on with specialist skills fulfills one of the registration requirements for managing the crafts/skilled trade aspect of the business.
Registration application forms are provided by the chambers themselves. Please contact the competent Chamber of Crafts and Skilled Trades. The manager’s declaration is provided on the right-hand sidebar (“Downloads”).
Depending on the chamber in question, various fees may be charged for your registration, ranging between €100 and €400. Your Chamber of Crafts and Skilled Trades will be happy to provide information with regard to your individual case.