Rechtsgrundlagen Gewerbe

Legal Bases

The German Code of Trade and Commerce [Gewerbeordnung, GewO] provides an important basis for conducting business.

Trade and Industry Law

Examples of activities requiring a permit include pawnbrokers, guards, auctioneers, brokers, investment advisors and insurance brokers. Furthermore, activities such as operating amusement arcades and setting up slot machines may also require a licence.

In addition, the German Code of Trade and Commerce includes regulations about trades that must be monitored. This includes businesses that do not require a licence, but do require special monitoring, such as the sale of certain kinds of used goods, detective agencies, dating agencies, travel agencies and locksmith services.

Furthermore, the German Code of Trade and Commerce includes regulations on the itinerant trade and on trade fairs and markets.

The German Code of Trade and Commerce is a German federal law which is implemented by the German federal states.

However, in North Rhine-Westphalia, the municipalities are responsible for the implementation of the German Code of Trade and Commerce due to the Competence Regulation [Zuständigkeitsverordnung]. The highest supervision for the area of trade and industry law is performed by the Ministry.

Since 1953, trade and crafts law has been regulated by the German Trade and Crafts Code [Handwerksordnung, HwO] which has been repeatedly amended and adjusted in line with current developments. The last major revision of the German Trade and Crafts Code was completed in 2004 and brought into effect the current trade and crafts law structure. The German Trade and Crafts Code is a federal law. The states may participate in making changes through the Bundesrat. This is one of the tasks of the department, as is the coordination of legal positions and procedures with the German federal government, other states and trades and crafts organisations.

Furthermore, the department oversees the activities of the North Rhine-Westphalian Chambers of Crafts and Skilled Trades, especially with regard to exemptions and entitlements to run a business for entries in the Register of Skilled Trades. This competence was transferred to the Chambers of Crafts and Skilled Trades in 2006 through the regulations on competence in accordance with the German Trade and Crafts Code and the EU/EEA Trade and Crafts Ordinance [EU/EWR-Handwerk-Verordnung, EU/EWRHwV]. Before applying for entitlement to run a business or for an exemption, free-of-charge consultation concerning the application requirements from the competent Chamber of Crafts and Skilled Trades is recommended, since a fee will be charged for an application, even if it is rejected.

NRW State Law

All legislative texts in force in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia are available on the portal "” This legislative portal is a service of the Ministry of the Interior of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (IM NRW). (legislative portal of the State of NRW)

NRW Data Protection Act

Federal Law

Through a joint project with juris GmbH, the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection provides almost all German federal laws online, free of charge, at Gesetze im Internet.

In addition, you can search for publications, announcements and other legally relevant company news, at no charge and without registering, on the website of the German Federal Gazette.

EU Law

The database EUR-Lex provides access to the legal regulations of the European Union. EUR-Lex is a database in which you can find, for example, contracts, international agreements, legal regulations and information about supplementary legislation.