Catalogs of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Within this webpage, an overview of the FAQ catalogs provided by the Business Service Portal (WSP.NRW) is presented.

FAQ Catalog for Online Services

For any technical difficulties, please direct your inquiries to our Technical Support at WSP-Support@digitales.nrw.de.

Should you have questions regarding the online procedures, kindly reach out to us via info@nrw-ea.de, or by phone, available from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., at +49 5231 71 34 50.

  1. The Service Account (Applicable exclusively to natural persons)
  2. The Company Account (Designed for partnerships and corporations)

For natural persons, registration can be completed at https://servicekonto.nrw/. You may either manually input your data under the "Username and Password" section or employ the online ID function for registration on Servicekonto.NRW. Managing directors/owners of present or prospective companies can also employ the service account.

The company account is tailored for partnerships and corporations, and registration is conducted through the ELSTER portal, necessitating your company tax number. Additional details on registering a company account can be accessed here.

Upon successful registration of a service or company account, access to the Business Service Portal (WSP.NRW) is granted, permitting the execution of desired online procedures.

The following payment options are available for online procedures:

  • Giropay (Payment via the current account)
  • Card
  • PayPal
  • Paydirekt

Please note that payment via bank transfer or in cash is not feasible.

The status of your online application can be accessed within your user account. Under the "My WSP" tab, you will find a comprehensive overview of your data, projects, general inquiries, drafts, applications under examination, and your submitted applications. For access to your account overview, please click here.

The "receipt" status signifies that your request has been transmitted to the relevant authority. Depending on the nature of the application, a receipt certificate will be made available, enabling the execution of administrative procedures, among other tasks.

The "In progress" status indicates that the competent authority is scrutinizing your request for plausibility and will get in touch if any clarifications are required.

The "Closed" status denotes the completion of the evaluation. In the absence of any further notifications from the competent authority, it can be inferred that your online application has been successfully processed.

Certificates pertaining to your online applications can be accessed within your WSP account. To do so, select your account overview under "My WSP." Among the listed items, you will find your submitted applications. By clicking on "Details," you will be able to view, for example, a receipt certificate or a fee notice stored as a PDF document.

Please take note that, in the case of an online commercial application, the receipt certificate functions as your trade license.

FAQ Catalog Covering Commercial Matters

A commercial activity is defined as any permissible economic, self-employed undertaking conducted independently, with sole responsibility, and with the intention of generating profit for a specified duration. Exceptions to this definition include primary production (e.g., agriculture, forestry, horticulture, viticulture, livestock farming, fishing, and mining), liberal professions (e.g., scientific, artistic, and literary pursuits), and the mere administration of one's assets.

The obligation to notify the authorities commences at the commencement of commercial operations. The following instances require the submission of a trade notice:

  • Initiating a new trade or commercial activity
  • Taking over an existing business as a new proprietor, be it as a buyer, lessee, inheritor, etc.
  • Establishing additional branches or subsidiary locations, such as sales offices or storage facilities
  • Relocating a commercial enterprise to a new headquarters, resulting in a change of jurisdiction for the local municipal trade authority
  • Introducing a new partner into a partnership
  • Altering the legal form of the business, for example, transitioning from sole proprietorship to a GmbH
  • Converting the business according to the Conversion Act (UmwG), such as through mergers, divisions, legal form changes, or asset transfers

The registration process for a trade is the same, irrespective of whether the business is considered small or not. You may choose between primary acquisition and secondary employment. The term "small business" is often confused with the small business sector, which is a concept in VAT law. Certain simplifications apply to small businesses. Further information regarding the small business regulation, including turnover thresholds, can be found here. You can register your business, whether small or not, online.

The "receipt certificate" for your trade advertisement, colloquially known as the "commercial certificate," can be found in your user account. To access it, navigate to your account overview under "My WSP".

Among other items, you will find your submitted applications. By clicking on "Details," you will locate the receipt in PDF format. This electronically issued receipt is valid without the need for a signature or seal, serving as the equivalent of a paper-based business license.

Self-employment is presumed to be bogus if three of the following five criteria are met:

  • Self-employed individuals lack characteristics typical of entrepreneurs.
  • Approximately five-sixths of turnover is consistently derived from a single client.
  • No employees subject to social security contributions are hired.
  • Clients regularly engage in activities similar to those carried out by employees.
  • The nature of the work corresponds externally to tasks previously performed under an employment relationship for the same client.

The fees for these processes are governed by the General Administrative Fee Regulations NRW. Trade registration and reregistration costs EUR 26 for natural persons and EUR 33 for legal entities. For each additional legal representative in the case of legal entities, a fee of EUR 13 applies. Trade deregistration in NRW is free of charge.

A trade display is not required for the following activities:

  • Fishermen's farms
  • Construction and relocation of pharmacies (except when operating pharmacies)
  • Remunerated childcare, such as running kindergartens or day care facilities
  • Activities of lawyers, patent attorneys, notaries (individuals registered in the Legal Services Register)
  • Activities of auditors, auditing firms, and sworn auditors and auditing firms
  • Work carried out by tax consultants, tax consulting firms, and tax agents
  • Activities related to prostitution in accordance with the Prostitute Protection Act (ProstSchG). Nonetheless, GewO (Trade and Commerce Regulation Act) requirements must be adhered to when operating prostitution establishments.
  • Photovoltaic systems installed on self-owned buildings (regardless of size or capacity)
  • One-time, non-permanently designed activities, such as one-time assistance for a film production
  • Other activities falling within the scope of liberal professions; refer to additional details here.

Please note that these exceptions pertain solely to trade law and may not encompass all relevant considerations. Special tax law requirements should also be taken into account, and in cases of uncertainty, it is advisable to consult a tax consulting firm or the tax office.

If you intend to pursue a trade profession independently, trade registration alone will not suffice. You must also register with the competent Chamber of Crafts in North Rhine-Westphalia. Registration differentiates between trades subject to registration and those similar to crafts. Further information regarding registration in the craft role can be found here.

In general, the following documents are required for processing the application:

  • Identity document of the applicant (ID card or passport)
  • Residence permit indicating "Processive activity permitted" if the applicant is not from a European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), or Swiss country
  • If applicable, a current registration confirmation (if the ID document does not display a private address)
  • In the case of artisanal or craft activities, registration in the craftsmanship role of the Chamber of Crafts is necessary, if applicable
  • For businesses subject to authorization, a copy of the relevant permit or concession, if applicable
  • Possibly an up-to-date extract from the commercial register (if the business is already registered)
  • A copy of the notarially certified company contract or foundation agreement, if applicable

In the case of partnerships, individual members with the authority to manage the business must be registered as business persons, not the partnership itself, as partnerships lack legal personality. Thus, each partner in a partnership must submit a trade notice upon their entry, and the same applies when a partner departs. However, in the case of a limited partnership (KG), this typically only applies to personally liable partners, which can also include legal entities (e.g., GmbH & Co. KG). Partnerships must indicate the names of other partners on the trade notice, specifying their surnames and first names.

In general, a legal entity's commercial activity can be declared before its registration in the commercial register. However, when registering online, the company must already be registered in the commercial register. Therefore, in this case, it is advisable to contact the responsible trade office directly. Usually, you will need to provide a copy of the notarized founding contract for the registration process.

The Trade Office will forward your trade notice to various entities, including the Chamber of Crafts or the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Register Court, the Tax Office, and the Professional Association. If you hire employees for your business, you must apply for a company number from the Employment Agency and register your employees with the Social Security. You will not automatically receive a tax number for your business; you must apply for one yourself. For further details, refer to the question "How do I apply for my tax number/VAT identification number?"

Upon commencing business activities, you are obligated to submit the tax registration questionnaire to the appropriate tax office within four weeks of establishment. The tax administration provides online access to questionnaires through the ELSTER service portal. This online form facilitates the application for a tax number.

A trade reregistration is required in the following cases (in accordance with § 14(1), first and second sentences):

  1. Transfer of the business within the same municipality
  2. Change of company name
  3. Name change (for both individuals and legal entities)
  4. Expansion of business activities
  5. Change of business activities
    If you intend to relocate your business outside your current municipality, you must first deregister your trade in your current location and subsequently reregister it in the new municipality.

If your company is registered in the commercial register, you should use that name on the form. Companies not registered in the commercial register may choose to use a fictitious business name (e.g., "Gaststätte zur Grün Baum – Max Mustermann," "Frisör Haargenau, Miriam Musterfrau"). When selecting a name, please ensure compliance with applicable legal provisions, which can be found here.

A trade deregistration is required under the following circumstances:

  • Complete cessation of business operations
  • Change of ownership while the business continues to exist, e.g., due to sale, inheritance, lease, etc.
  • Transfer of a commercial enterprise to the jurisdiction of another municipal trade authority
  • Resignation of a partner in a partnership
  • Change of legal form, e.g., from sole proprietorship to GmbH
  • Conversion in accordance with the Conversion Act (UmwG), e.g., due to merger, division, legal form change, or asset transfer
    The obligation to report the cessation of a commercial enterprise only arises when the business is permanently discontinued. There is no provision requiring the notification of temporary suspensions of business activities in the Trade Code.

The STARTERCENTER NRW provides assistance to individuals embarking on self-employment in North Rhine-Westphalia, offering free support for founders and young entrepreneurs across all industries from a single, centralized source. Further information about the Startercenter.NRW can be found here.

A principal establishment serves as the central hub for a standing trade operation and is typically situated at the registered office of the company for partnerships and legal entities. It may also be referred to as the main branch if no subsidiary branches or independent branches exist. Invoices can also be issued on behalf of the principal establishment, even if it is located in the proprietor's place of residence.

A branch is a separate entity with independent organization, resources, and accounting. The manager of a branch has the authority to independently conclude and execute transactions. Each branch necessitates a separate trade notice submitted to the local competent authority.

An independent branch is any fixed local installation or facility established for the conduct of a standing trade (e.g., a delivery warehouse). Such branches are entirely dependent on the principal establishment and issue invoices on behalf of the head office. Each non-self-employed branch requires a separate trade notice submitted to the local competent authority.

FAQ Catalog for the Individual Contact Person

The Point of Single Contact (EA) is an institution of the European Union. In compliance with the EU Services Directive 2006/123/EC, the Points of Single Contact within Member States are mandated to ensure the digital accessibility of all information pertaining to the procedures and formalities necessary for commencing a service-related activity. The Directive's primary objective is to streamline the establishment of businesses and the provision of services across Europe.

The EA functions as an information facilitator and coordinator of the procedures essential for commencing a service activity, establishing a business, or recognizing foreign professional qualifications. In its capacity as a public authority controller, the EA provides comprehensive information upon request and offers guidance regarding the submission of requisite documents to the appropriate authorities. To submit applications and monitor their processing status, you can utilize the Business Service Portal (WSP.NRW), which provides online access.

According to the EU Services Directive, Member States ensure that all procedures and formalities required to initiate service activities can be managed through the EA. This encompasses various aspects of business initiation and management in sectors such as crafts, industry, and services, as well as the recognition of foreign professional qualifications. Additionally, the single point of contact can be employed for a range of distinct individual services derived from relevant specialist regulations. An overview of the EA's individual services can be found here.

The EA does not manage service activities that do not fall within the purview of the EU Services Directive or the EU Professional Recognition Directive. These excluded activities comprise, among others:

  • Transport services, including local passenger transport
  • Health and pharmaceutical services
  • Audiovisual services
  • Gambling, including lotteries and betting
  • Social services related to housing, childcare, and support for families in need
  • Services provide by temporary employment agencies
  • Tax services

If your project does not fall within our scope of application but is closely related to your startup, we are available to provide information on your available options.

The technical EA in NRW is the Business Service Portal (WSP.NRW), supported by the EA's office. You can reach the EA office by phone from Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 10:00 using the service phone number +49 5231 713450. Alternatively, you can send your inquiries via email to info@nrw-ea.de, and we will promptly respond.

No, the services rendered by the EA are entirely free of charge. Any fees or costs incurred are related to the competent authorities handling your case.

The EA serves as a central point for information and procedural coordination and does not have the mandate to provide individual professional advice on a case-by-case basis. However, we can direct you to appropriate and qualified advisory centers and contacts.

The Business Service Portal (WSP.NRW) comprises two main components:

  • Information dissemination
  • Procedural coordination

If you wish to complete tasks such as trade registration, re-registration, or deregistration online, the portal offers a digital and media-free platform for these processes. Additionally, our electronic application system can be used for other administrative procedures related to business activities. You can find information on specialized services and the relevant authority for your request via the search function on the homepage. For professional recognition matters, the Recognition Finder is a helpful resource.

Your data is safeguarded against loss and unauthorized access by third parties. Personal data is collected exclusively during the registration and electronic application process and stored in a highly secure system. Data is shared with competent authorities solely in the context of the application through designated forms. Further information on data protection can be found in the data protection declaration of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection, and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MWIKE).

If a procedure is initiated through the EA, the relevant competent authorities will have access to the completed request for further processing. However, if the procedure is initiated directly with the competent authority, such as a trade office, only that authority will have access to your data.

The EA's jurisdiction is limited to North Rhine-Westphalia. If you plan to establish your business in another federal state, you will need to contact the relevant authorities in that state for assistance.

FAQ Catalog for One-by-All Implementation (EfA Implementation), Co-use, and Post-Use

A client-capable WSP.NRW is currently being implemented. It is possible to link and store specific parameters and settings to a client via a corresponding client configuration. The processes and forms can then be integrated into the client's own portals in various ways - from a simple parameterized link to embedding via web components or the direct use of APIs and interfaces. The login is done via an interoperable user account (ELSTER company account, if necessary additionally state-owned user account). Based on the incoming link, WSP.NRW identifies the origin/state of the user and derives appropriate environment parameters (e.g. color schemes, logos, etc.) as well as state-specific adjustments in the form. The complete linking guide can be found on the OZG information platform.

Technical: The forms are XÖV-standardized, the routing is to be carried out via FIT-Connect.Financial: This question is answered by the OZG program management as follows: "The implementation of interfaces in the specialized procedures of the downstream-using states can generally not be financed via the economic stimulus package. It is up to the EfA-giving country to develop an interface standard within the framework of the project. In principle, the downstream countries and their manufacturers of specialized procedures should be involved at an early stage so that all relevant requirements can be taken into account. The manufacturers of the specialized procedures - especially if there is competition - usually have a vested interest in implementing the interface. Depending on the specific project environment, there may be constellations in which the interface development represents a downstream hurdle or there is no competition from specialist procedures at all. In such cases, the EfA-giving state may consider implementing or licensing free interfaces with any remaining funds from the implementation project." WSP.NRW uses the official XÖV standards, if available, and makes the corresponding data available via standard interfaces (e.g. FIT-Connect).

Yes, we are in contact with various manufacturers of specialist processes and have already included this aspect in our connection concept. This can be made available on request (mail to ozgmwide@cassini.de).

The use of Jira is currently only planned for NRW; this is due, among other things, to the license model currently in use. In the EfA context, the connection of the downstream countries would currently be limited to the transfer of the application to the receiving agency. It is still open whether and how a return channel to the users can be designed.

The use of FIT-Connect is planned. At present, it is still unclear when and with which functional scope FIT-Connect will be available.

We are planning to use the EfA services from Q1 2022 and are working on creating the necessary conditions for this. In the event of joint or subsequent use, the following requirements must be met on the part of the connecting country, in addition to the naming of the online services to be considered for subsequent use.

After submitting the form, a payment provider is addressed, usually ePayBL. If your federal state also uses ePayBL, this can be used when re-using forms developed in NRW. In principle, other payment service providers are also conceivable, but this would have to be implemented separately.

The inbox 2.0 is not yet in use. We are currently working on an implementation.

A breakdown of the costs of EfA co-use can be found here.

Yes, there are dedicated contact persons for the EfA implementation projects. You can find them in the table on page 5 of the service catalog. For all general inquiries or questions, please contact us at the functional mailbox ozgmwide@cassini.de.

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